Most of us are influenced either directly or indirectly by certain myths. These are usually evident when it comes to decision making in practical life. By its very nature, a myth is a false belief about a particular thing that we hold tenaciously, most often because we are ignorant about its reality. When it comes to choosing a career, vocation, or work, the influence that such myths exert upon us become so real than we would ever have thought. As the case usually is, most people who have been influenced by myths are always ignorant about it.
When it comes to theological education in general, I have observed that there are certain myths that are commonly held people either ignorantly or deliberately. Such kinds of myths are mostly held by people who are “outside” the theological circle. By “outside” I mean people who watch from afar or who are desirous of having such an education. This however does not necessarily imply that people who are undergoing theological studies are totally exempted from being victims of such myths. Experience has shown that some theological students may still be influenced by them.
Permit me to share four of these myths that I have discovered with you:
1. Theological Education provides an automatic growth to Spirituality: It is surprising how common this belief is held among Christians worldwide. While it must be admitted that good theological education ought to enhance one’s spiritual growth, this is not always the case. The fact of the matter is that without proper spiritual grounding prior to theological training, the tendency for one to go down the drain afterwards is very high.
2. Theological Education has nothing to do with the arts and the sciences: So many people think of theological education as something that is totally unrelated to the arts and the sciences. As such, they think theologians are ignorant people when it comes to knowledge about the arts and the sciences. But if the truth be told, it is only in theological education that almost all kinds of knowledge are brought together as an integrated whole.
3. Theological Education is for Failures: In some parts of the world, theologians are seen as failures, people who are not brilliant or intelligent, people who cannot cope with the rigorous demands of other disciplines. But theological education is too “great” to be reduced to such a derogatory category. Theologians who have had other disciplines prior to their theological education do testify that theology involves intelligent reasoning in relation to understanding and solving difficult issues.
4. Theological Education is an Inferior type of Education: Some people who have been wrongly influenced by the myth that theological education is a discipline for failures end up concluding that theology is an inferior type of education. They fail to realize the fact that historically theology has been said to be the “queen of the sciences.”
Are you planning to embark on theological education or are you undergoing the training already? Go ahead with your plans without feeling intimidated by such myths as outlined aboved. Remember that theological education is one of the noblest educational trainings you can ever receive. Pursue your dream with the whole of your heart and see to it that nothing deters you from achieving it!
By Seth Kajang Bature. Seth currently attends Westminster Theological Seminary.