In the Beginning…
The original ministers of the Church of Christ were his Apostles. The bulk of Jesus’ ministry, in fact, revolved around Jesus preparing and training his Apostles to carry on the gospel work, after ascended to Heaven to sit on the throne of God, above all creation.
Matthew 10:1-8 –
And when he had called unto him his twelve disciples, he gave them power against unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease. …These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand. Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give.
After the resurrection and ascension of Christ to sit on the throne of God in glory, the Apostles carried on Christ’s work in teaching and preaching. As they traveled from city to city, preaching the gospel of grace, they established churches and ordained elders to rule over them.
These elders, in turn, took the message that was passed to them, and trained other faithful men to carry on the work of the gospel, after their departing.
Apostle Paul’s Letter to Timothy (2 Tim 2:2) –
And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.
As controversy arose, churches worked together to collect and disseminate written copies of the gospels and epistles, settle matters of controversy, share resources, etc. Partly out of necessity and partly through the corrupting influence of sinful man, unbiblical governmental structures began to form around the churches of Christ, transforming the Chruch into an artificial human political empire. The perversion of the gospel by pagan influences caused grace to give way to the foolishness of merit-based salvation in asceticism. Godly men no longer passed along they things they had been taught to other men in the church, but rather men began to seek salvation by taking vows of poverty and isolation in monasteries. During the Middle Ages, the monastery became the training ground for Roman priests.
Through much of the Middle Ages, Roman Priests were unlearned and even illiterate. They were only able to cite a few latin phrases and administer the orders and sacraments of the Pope. The twelfth centurty Rennaissance, however, brought with it the rise of scholasticism. Greek studies were taken up and pagan Greek philosophy became the center piece of Romanism as Universities were established to train the leaders of Rome in Aristotle and Plato.
By the 16th Century, the printing press had been invented and a few learned Doctors of the church had been audacious enough to provide translations of the Word of God into the language of the common people so they could drink the clean, pure, unadulterated springs of Life Eternal, unfiltered by anti-christ and his minions. The Roman Catholic response to Bible Christianity was to burn it away, and to banish what it could not burn, and to marginalize what it could not banish, and to fume and snort over what it could not marginalize. One major facet of the fuminations and snorts of Rome was the 16th Century Council of Trent. The council attempted to define salvation as being of works, took the Bible from the hands of men, and established itself as the arbitrator of salvation. One interesting note from the Council of Trent was the establishment of the Seminary for teh training of priests and monks. See CHAPTER 18 of the 23rd Session – Method of establishing Seminaries for Clerics, and of educating the same therein.
Now, the church had set up institutions for training volunteer men, post University, in the decrees, dogmas, and laws of Mother Rome. Upon graduation, Rome then assigned newly minted priests depending upon the needs of the institution. This, of course, is the model that predominates today.
Present Day Protestantism
The seminary model pioneered by Trent has continued today in the way most Evangelicals train their ministers of the Gospel. Young men, post University, volunteer for seminary training. These men move across country and take a short-term vow of poverty in order to receive credentials in the teachings of the church – but with one major difference! Unlike the Romanist model, modern Evangelical seminarians are not guaranteed a ministry upon graduation. Upon completion of their studies, graduates must create a resume and interview for jobs on the open market like any other mainstream profession. Good resumes and good looks/personalities sell, poor ones do not. A sharp sales campaign, a good resume, quality recommendations, a good singing voice, a great collection of jokes and illustrations, and a nice looking wife and kids are indispensable!
No one likes the present system. No one believes that ministers of the gospel, called at a mature age (child raising years) should have to quite a job and move family across country for ministerial training. No one likes pulpit committees and no one likes job interviews. On the other side of the coin, the alternative is to have lay pastors who are trained by the ruling eldership in a sort of mentorship-like program. These are the predominant methods in Indepdendant Fundamentalist churches where ‘education’ revolves more around indoctrination into the traditions of the elders than being trained in the things of God.
So the question is then: do you train your own pastor in the ministries and processes of the local church and sacrifice depth; or do you hire a pastor on the open market like any other professional and disregard Paul’s admonition of ‘appointing elders’ and committing these things to faith men who will be able to teach others, also?
Reformed Baptist Seminary has the answer! Distance Learning!
High academic rigour of RBS, coupled with the bewildering array of electronic tools available to the 21st Century educator – there is no need to chose. Pastors can be trained and mentored by local Pastors, without sacrificing the top-notch scholasticism of the academy. The academy provides the materials and structure, the local Pastor augments the training materials and provides the one-on-one guidance and mentorship needed to train a young man to serve the people of God.
The cutting edge of what RBS is doing today, will be the plastic handle of tomorrow’s cutting shear.