St. Stephen's Musings

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:: Friday, March 05, 2004 ::

Limitations of a Seminary Education

Tikhon notes something interesting about an aspect of seminary life that ties into my post yesterday:

"I may be learning more than most people in a typical parish may ever hope to learn, but the amount I can actually learn while I am here at seminary is still limited. I occasionally find myself hoping that seminary will make me an expert in all aspects of "church knowledge." Instead, seminary can only offer me training as a generalist in churchmanship."

A complaint I hear from time to time about seminary life (Orthodox seminaries not excluded) is that a seminary is fantastic at producing biblical and patristic scholars, but rather weak in creating well-rounded priests.

The argument is that seminaries in America give a decent academic education but tend to downplay or neglect the formation of spiritually sensitive confessors, down-to-earth homilists and teachers, and men of the Church who understand and appreciate the role of the intellect in the Christian life and are living an ascetic and balanced life.

The claim is that our seminaries, because of an over-emphasis of the intellect, do not do a very good job at teaching future priests the ability to have deep and meaningful relationships with others, particularly with other men.

Now it must be noted that these are problems Christians (especially men, clergy or otherwise) have across the board in our culture. Placing the majority of the blame on the seminaries seems harsh and simplistic. Taking the position that everything wrong in the Church is because of "the intellectuals" is also misguided and patently false.

However, it would be interesting to know how seminary life may exacerbate certain individualistic and myopic personality traits in our future priests. I am also curious how the structure and vision of the seminary itself may contribute to the lack of spiritual balance we so often see.

Lord willing, I may have the opportunity to find out the answers to these questions firsthand someday.

Update: Thomas muses a bit on this subject "In short, they don't need less study, they need: more languages, more history, and more immersion in the traditions of their communions. All of this should be within a nonnegotiable, given structure of daily prayer, sacramental life, and discipline."

:: Karl :: 7:49:00 AM [Link] ::

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