It’s an old joke among Christian leaders to “accidentally” refer to seminary as cemetery. “Back when I was in cemetery…er, seminary…” Or to a young prospect for the pastorate: “So, you’re heading to cemetery…er, seminary, eh? Well, hang in there. You’ll be involved in real ministry eventually.” The joker’s purposeful subliminal slip assumes that theological education and vital, faith-filled ministry are in tension with one another, if they’re not outright enemies. Well, if seminary is where an aspiring minister’s faith goes to die, then Presbytery meetings must be purgatory.
For Presbyterian denominations within Christ’s church, Presbytery is the deliberative assembly of elders from a particular geographical region that gathers to make decisions which will guide the local congregations within that region. The Synod (or General Assembly) is the Presbytery meeting of all Presbyteries in the denomination. All the stereotypes, the alleged faith-killing aspects of seminary – dry discussions of dust-accumulating documents written by dead theologians who were barely interesting in their own day – are made to live again in debates among seminary graduates and other church leaders. Any vitality from fresh ideas in these debates is short-lived; soon those sparks of life are laid to rest in the coffins of […]