If you are discerning whether to attend seminary, this article is for you. I made many mistakes when deciding to attend seminary, and I want you to be amply prepared ahead of time, so you do not make the wrong decision.
Discerning whether or not to go to seminary is a difficult question that must be prayed over. Before I attended seminary, regrettably, I didn't place much time in prayer and research before choosing the first seminary I would attend. If you are discerning whether to attend seminary, this article is for you. I made many mistakes when deciding to attend seminary, and I want you to be amply prepared ahead of time, so you do not make the wrong decision.
Those around me influenced me to go to a seminary that was not the right place for me. From my own experience, I don’t want you to make the same mistake. If you decide to go to seminary, that’s great, but do plenty of research and see what the school teaches. Unfortunately, where I attended for my first year of seminary, I was at odds with most of my teachers because they were teaching unbiblical information to the class and were putting women down every chance they could. Sadly, in the South, more and more seminaries conform to the standards of the first seminary I attended, which is a great disservice to Christians across the globe.
A major part of discerning whether or not you should attend seminary is if you want to attend. Don't attend seminary just because everyone else is attending, and don't attend seminary because you feel like God would be upset with you if you didn't. God already loves you as you are (John 3:16-17). Nowhere in the Bible are we told we have to go to seminary for God to love us, nor are we told that we have to go to seminary to thoroughly understand the Bible.
When I was discerning where I would attend seminary, I was largely influenced by my friend circle from college. Rather than deciding where to go, I went to the same seminary they went to, and let me tell you, that was one of the worst decisions I ever made. Granted, I can now educate others about these extreme seminaries and their unbiblical teachings, but when I was there, it was stressful and damaged my mental health. I say this not to scare you but to warn you and encourage you to do thorough research on a seminary before you send in your transcripts for acceptance. Don't choose to go to a seminary simply because that's where your friends are going or because that's the “in” seminary. Choose a seminary that teaches the truth of the Bible and doesn't put females down for wanting to further their education.
It is important to pray when discerning whether or not you should attend seminary. By talking to God through prayer, you can express your concerns and questions to God. Prayer is powerful even if it seems that your prayers are never answered. God does answer all of our prayers—He might answer “no” or “not now” more than “yes.” Yet, we can trust God because He knows what is best for us and always does things for our good. By talking to God in prayer, you acknowledge your dependence on Him.
Even if your prayer is not answered immediately, you can trust God and count on Him. God speaks to us through the Bible; therefore, make sure you are actively reading the Bible and listening to what God is trying to tell you through scripture. God can also speak to us through other trusted Christians in our lives. Consult other Christians in your life, such as a professor from undergrad, your pastor, or another spiritual leader in your life. Often, God can use other Christians to speak to us and help us with decisions.
Choosing whether to go to seminary is a struggle for almost everyone. A helpful tip I heard from a friend after the fact was to make a pro and con list of whether the seminary will be a good choice or not. On one side of your paper, write the “pros” or the positives of going to seminary, and on the opposite side of the paper, write down the “cons” or the negatives of going to seminary. It is important to be aware of the pros and cons before committing to seminary because I discovered that you don't want to wind up at the wrong seminary.
If you discern through prayer, Bible reading, and speaking with other trusted Christians that you are going to attend seminary, that is great, but if you decide you shouldn't attend seminary, that is okay too. There is nothing wrong with not attending seminary, and there is nothing that makes a person a “superior” Christian by going to seminary. I went to seminary and never viewed myself as superior to someone else simply because I did extra schooling. We can learn much from others whether or not they attended seminary. That said, a person can become well-equipped and well-educated in the Bible without attending seminary.
If you want to learn more about the Bible, you don't have to attend a seminary. You can learn more about God and the Bible by studying it on its own and by reading other textbooks and biblical commentaries to help you learn more about theology. I recommend various works by Charles C. Ryrie, Ken Ham, John Walvoord, and Roy B. Zuck. The authors I read during undergrad and graduate school taught me much about theory.
Thus, discerning whether to attend seminary or not is a difficult decision, but God will help you through many avenues. Be active in prayer, active in Bible reading, and consult other believers in your life. In addition to these, ask yourself if you want to go to seminary. Seminary is a great place to further your knowledge of theology, but it is also a place of hard work, deadlines, and emotional rollercoasters. It is best to know these things before making a decision you regret later.
This is not to discourage you because I fully support the decision to go to seminary as long as it is a biblical school. However, it is best to know what you will do in seminary before sending your transcripts. Seminary is a great place to learn more about God and devote time to discern God’s plan for your life. Stay faithful to the course God has set before you, and He will give you the strength to finish strong. May we say with Paul, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7).
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Vivian Bricker loves Jesus, studying the Word of God, and helping others in their walk with Christ. She has earned a Bachelor of Arts and Master's degree in Christian Ministry with a deep academic emphasis in theology. Her favorite things to do are spending time with her family and friends, reading, and spending time outside. When she is not writing, she is embarking on other adventures.