Things They Never Told Your Pastor In Bible College Or Seminary
I wish to clarify from the beginning that in this article we are not attacking the many well-meaning hard-working pastors and church leaders who dedicate their lives to serving others. But what we are attempting to do is educate both church leaders and other Christians about things that greatly impact the effectiveness of the local church and the spiritual health and growth of all believers therein. And we are attempting to point out some serious flaws in the overall education system of pastors, elders and other church leaders.
We all have heard the expression “The road to hell is paved with good intentions”. Well we could also say “The road to bible school is paved with good intentions”. Many Christians, some genuine and some not, head off to Bible school with the intention of passionately serving God and serving others, never realizing that they are about to be indoctrinated into the unbiblical clergy/laity system and they are about to be taught false ideas and doctrines, by instructors, who simply don’t know the truth – but who think they do. And at the same time, these Bible schools neglect to teach certain vital truths about Christian doctrine and practice. These errors and omissions are “systemic” – they exist across the majority of Bible schools.
A bible school telling its students that the conventional clergy/laity church system is unbiblical would be like the pharmaceutical industry telling their customers that the conventional allopathic medical system is unhealthy and they should therefore go to homeopathic doctors and avoid the pharmaceutical industry’s drugs.
Some say that the clergy system is a product of the protestant Reformation… that those Reformers who came out of the clergy system in Catholicism carried it over into the Protestant churches they founded, without ever examining the biblical patterns of the original New Testament Church. That does appear to be the case.
While there are undoubtedly many things the “average” pastor is not taught in Bible school or seminary, we will just concentrate on the most important issues. We will also discuss issues that Bible schools teach incorrectly. Believe it or not, what many people who attend Bible schools are taught is actually unbiblical and even heretical. Many of these people go to Bible school to be able to dedicate their lives to serving the Lord and His people, not knowing that they are about to become part of a very unbiblical “system”. As they head off to Bible school, they don’t know that they are about to embark upon a journey that includes perpetuating a system that is all backwards… a system that hinders discipleship and evangelism far more that it helps. What it hinders the most is the personal growth of the very people that these aspiring church leaders think they are going to be shepherding some day soon. And since many of them trust their Bible school professors far more than they should, they just memorize erroneous information, pass their exams and march out of Bible school with an impressive certificate or diploma that will then allow them to get a job in the “preaching business”, preaching all the errors and false doctrines they memorized at Bible school. And since the folks in the pews are usually just as apt to blindly trust their pastors and elders, as those preachers were apt to trust their bible school instructors, we end up with enormously ignorant and misinformed Christians on a worldwide scale.
Since the folks in the pews (as well as those in the pulpit) are often unable (or unwilling to take the time) to think critically – to “think outside the box” as they say – and question their trusted ecclesiastical “authorities”, they (both the clergy and the laity) often carry their theological errors to the grave and even pick up lots of additional error along life’s way. Of course these church leaders (who run these 501C3 corporations that they call churches) end up sharing their erroneous doctrine with others – resulting in disciples who become just as off-base, if not more so, than themselves.
1. The Unbiblical Clergy-Laity System
The very system that seminaries and bible schools are designed to support is utterly unbiblical in and of itself. All Christians are supposed to be disciple makers – it’s not supposed to be a job that only “professionally” trained clergymen do. Neither does God want there to be a clergy/laity class-distinction in HIS church. All true believers are kings and priests in the Kingdom of God, of which the Church is the earthly subset of. No Christian is supposed to be untouchable, uncorrectable or in some special class. But the clergy/laity system is designed to foster such an environment, where the second-class citizens (the laity) are expected to never ask questions or offer corrective statements when the paid professional (pastor) up front is giving his monologue speech to the audience (the congregation) in the pews. The clergy/laity system is a great tool for the controllers of the people to keep things the way they want and avoid change or correction. As Paul indicated in 1st Corinthians chapter 14, church meetings were (and are supposed to be) interactive so that everyone can contribute, comment, correct and be corrected. The interactive nature of the Corinthian church had its problems but they were doing what is supposed to be done at a weekly church meeting – seriously and meaningfully interacting. It just happened that they were not always doing things orderly, but that is all. They had the right approach, the right pattern for their gatherings, an approach that enabled all the members of the local body to share what gifts and talents God gave them and to learn and teach simultaneously. Also, the primary focus of church meetings should not be for evangelism, and that being done by one solitary man, but for discipleship and fellowship. These meetings are not meant to give a paid “professional” an opportunity to “do his job” as the audience – who paid for his “performance” – sits quietly on the sidelines, watching the “show”.
And in America, most so-called churches are not really churches at all but actually state-sanctioned corporations, 501C3 corporations to be precise, with corporate bylaws, corporate board members and a whole host of state-defined rules and regulations, none of which can be found in scripture. Well, you may say “So what? What’s so bad about that? Doesn’t the state require that, so you don’t have to pay income taxes?”. The answer is twofold. First of all, no church is America is required to register as a 501C3 corporation, because ALL churches are exempt from taxation – without having to incorporate. But the state just loves the ignorance of the people, as this allows them to not only know who is doing what in each church (like who contributes financially and how much), but also to DICTATE what a church can say or do, because, unknown to most church leaders, their bible schools forgot to tell them that 501C3 incorporation causes them to voluntarily put themselves under legal obligation to obey the state and its laws – regarding corporations. And if those church leaders ever bother to read the IRS 501C3 tax code, they will see that they are legally bound to never promote political candidates and anything else the state has forbidden 501C3 corporations to do, and those corporate laws can change – to be even more restrictive – at any time at the will of the state.
This clergy system ROBS almost all the local saints of opportunities to participate fully or even partially in the weekly gatherings of the congregation, thus robbing them of the chance to use their gifts, ask questions, make valuable comments, share an important testimony, share a hymn or a scripture and so on. At the same time, the clergy system results in unreasonable demands on the time and energy of the church leaders, who end up robbing their wives and children of quality time they need be spending with their husbands and fathers.
The clergy system perpetrates the idea that the most important credentials for church leaders is which and how many degrees they have after their names and perhaps which clergy training schools did they attend. This results in people hiring outsiders to lead their church when their current pastor moves on. This is a catastrophic view of church leadership, because the most important credentials for church leaders is their moral character and their relationship to their wives and children which is made very clear in 1 Timothy chapter 3 and Titus chapter 1… And how in the world do you determine that in a one or two hour interview – or even in a few days or weeks? You simply can’t. Which means it is beyond essential to raise up church leaders from within the local congregation over an extended period of time.
The clergy system also perpetuates the idea that there is a biblical basis for some kind of official church membership. It is God Almighty, by way of the infilling of the Holy Spirit, that causes a person to become a member of BOTH the corporate/global Church as well as a member of whatever LOCAL body of believers they happen to live in proximity to. For some reason, church leaders think that becoming an official church member somehow creates commitment. But then they go and usher their “members” into an institution that neither creates nor nurtures commitment. Commitment requires an ENVIRONMENT that allows local believers to really get involved in each other’s lives. Sitting in rows in pews (or chairs) a few times a week does little if anything to foster commitment. However, meeting in relatively small interactive groups, either by way of home groups or house churches or at least meeting in small enough groups to foster interaction – where fellowship is considered a MAJOR component of local church life – is guaranteed to foster commitment. And such was the pattern of the first century church, though you will have a difficult time finding a Bible school that will teach such a radical idea – which is such a threat to the very existence of the clergy/laity system.
Based on what we see in many conventional churches, church leaders often don’t learn about evangelism properly in their theological schools. They don’t learn that it is not a matter of attracting a crowd to a church building for one guy up front (the seminary graduate) to practice evangelism every week on the crowd in front of him. It is a matter of EVERY Christian sharing one’s faith everywhere they go, in various ways shapes and forms: talking to people, handing out gospel literature, street preaching, Internet evangelism, etc. And it is a matter of sharing one’s faith everywhere EXCEPT perhaps the local church meeting place, such as when you are out running errands, or going to rest stops, busy downtown areas, public parks, places where people are congregating, like local street fairs, college campuses, and also places where you can minister to physical needs as you share the gospel such as food banks/kitchens, disaster relief, as long as you are not prevented from sharing your faith at such places. Also, Christians in the local church should strive to follow the biblical pattern of going out in groups of two or more. This allows for mutual discipleship, mutual encouragement, mutual accountability and it shows the world that Christians actually like serving the Lord along side each other.
Meetings of the local church are supposed to be primarily for the edification of BELIEVERS – the local body of Christ – people who love to get together with each other and talk to each other about the Bible and to pray, sing spiritual songs and have intimate Christian fellowship and bear each other’s burdens. In fact, that is how you know who the REAL Christians are. People who flock to buildings to hear a speaker may simply be going there to perform some “religious duty” that they think will get them to heaven some day. And believe it or not, having highly interactive, participatory church meetings is a great way to figure out who those “religious” people are, who do not have the spirit of God dwelling within them. More information on evangelism can be found HERE.
3. Church History
If Bible schools did a good job of teaching church history, perhaps more of their graduates would be cognizant of the fact that some major doctrines being widely embraced today were once widely understood to be biblical heresy, such as the doctrines relating to the false free-will gospel. However, most bible schools are part of the problem. Their instructors are just restating the errors that they were taught. Some pastors and their congregations think that “Sola Scriptura” (Scripture Alone) means that creeds and confessions are bad and that it is a virtue to not only avoid studying them, but it is a “badge of honor” to speak out against those documents. Nothing could be further from the truth. Those creeds and confessions may not be 100 percent biblically accurate, but they were painstakingly developed to avoid the many kinds of doctrinal errors that are so prevalent in the Church today. The Bible itself encourages us to seek counsel from others: “Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counsellors there is safety” Proverbs 11:14.
4. The Gospel
The one thing that pastors are frequently not taught at bible schools is the TRUE gospel of Jesus Christ. Sure they are taught something they call the gospel but it is accurately called Arminianism or the false free-will gospel. In times past, many bible schools, colleges and seminaries were staffed by teachers who actually knew the true gospel, the gospel that includes election, predestination, total depravity, particular atonement and the sovereignty of God in the salvation process. But those days are long gone. And all that is left on the staff in many of today’s bible schools are misinformed or even unregenerated teachers who teach:
- Easy believism
- Decisional regeneration
- Altar calls
- Salvation formulas such as salvation by reciting a prayer
- Pointless humorous stories
- Grace without God’s law
- Salvation without repentance
- Mercy without God’s wrath
- Heaven without mention of Hell
- Madison Avenue advertising techniques
5. Bible Versions
Your pastor was very likely taught that there are the “King James Only” bible fanatics and then there is everybody else. They probably heard that most modern English Bible translations like the ESV and NASB are based on the “best and most reliable” manuscripts. What they may not have been taught was that the KJV Bible and a few other Bible versions (such as the MKJV and YLT) are based upon the Received Text, which truly is the best and most reliable set of Greek Manuscripts for the New Testament scriptures. There are thousands of copies of the Greek manuscripts for the Received Text and only a few copies of the corrupt “Alexandrian” Greek manuscripts that modern English Bible versions are translated from. It just so happens that some of the Alexandrian texts happen to be among the “oldest” but their lack of use indicates that the true Church did not trust them and instead was using the widely proliferated Received Text. What disturbs me the most about the bible version issue (and the manuscripts issue more precisely) is that Christians were once willing to be burned at the stake for the sake of the truths of the bible. Yet in our day, pastors and bible teachers seem totally unconcerned about the fact that thousands of words and hundreds of verses are missing from the modern translations. Oh well, we wouldn’t want to cause division over something as trivial as the accuracy of the Word of God, now would we? After all, any translation will do, will it not, as long as not too many major doctrines are affected. More information on Bible versions can be found HERE.
So What Should A Bible School Teach?
A bible school should have in its curriculum all of the subjects mentioned above. Here is a brief review of them:
Bible Versions: they should teach the difference between the Received Text and the corrupt Alexandrian Text and teach about the apostate men and women who produced and promoted the corrupt text.
Ecclesiology: They should teach how a local church should operate and how it should not operate, including the importance of interaction for all members and the need to avoid having some leader who “does it all” and who is not open to correction “on the spot”.
Evangelism: They should teach Christians about the many ways to engage in evangelism and the extreme importance of every Christian sharing their faith and spreading the Gospel. Also, unbiblical ideas about evangelism and the gospel should be exposed such as the love gospel, friendship evangelism, the free-will gospel, altar calls, sinner’s prayer and four spiritual laws.
Church History: They should teach about the important Protestant creeds and confessions including the 1689 London Baptist Confession and the Westminster Confession. They should teach about denominations that say they are not Protestant and why they may claim to have predated the Reformation.
Soteriology: They should teach about Arminianism, Calvinism, and about the writings of the best Bible scholars who support those perspectives on salvation. Variations of those views should also be taught including Hyper-Calvinism, Molenism, and Universalism. Prevenient Grace and other non-biblical ideas used to justify Arminianism should be explained also.
Eschatology: This category is not talked about above but is included here since it is a subject that seems to consume a lot of time in the teaching ministries of many churches these days and it is a subject that can greatly affect a Christian’s view of things to come. They should teach about the Pre-Trib Rapture theory and how it came about and what are the scriptural problems with it. They should also teach about alternative views and how those alternatives line up with scripture or perhaps may not line up.
Should Bible schools teach other things also like hermeneutics, biblical Greek and biblical Hebrew? Sure, but I have only listed some of the more important subjects that are either not taught or are taught incorrectly or incompletely.
We “the people” – the body of Christ – need to be careful that we don’t assume that just because some so-called professional clergyman knows a bit of biblical Greek and Hebrew or has a certificate from some Bible school, that he is right about all the Bible doctrines that he preaches and practices. Rather, it is the norm that these “professionals” don’t have a clue about what was NOT taught to themselves in Bible school. After graduation, they only reinforce the idea that they are adequately trained by fellowshipping with other clergymen like themselves who are just as misinformed about doctrine and practices as they are. To make matters worse, these clergymen go on to lead churches where the church structure is such that people in the congregation are discouraged from or prevented from questioning and correcting the bad doctrine and practice of their church leaders, and questioning them afterwards in private doesn’t count. They should be corrected or asked for clarification on-the-spot, so that others who may also have the same or similar concerns can hear the issues in question expounded upon. And if the speaker can’t offer clarification, perhaps someone else in the meeting can contribute to the conversation. Assuming that all teaching must come from specially trained leaders does not help to encourage spiritual growth in the local body of Christ. As a young Christian I learned the most when I was given the opportunity to prepare lessons for bi-weekly bible studies, even though I had never taken a single Bible course or attended a day of Bible college. You don’t help believers to grow simply by preaching at them week after week. You help them grow by challenging them to teach others and by doing that, they teach themselves at the same time.
This information about the ill-trained and misguided clergy should not be a surprise to the person who is still able and willing to engage in the dying art of “critical thinking”. You see, the government schools (i.e. public schools) are cranking out brainwashed “zombies” by the millions and have been doing so for decades… students who are spoon fed the doctrine of the state – and who often totally believe that corrupt doctrine – about morals, evolution, secular humanism, transgenderism, homosexuality, abortion and allegiance to the state – above and before allegiance to family and God. And the bible schools are run by and attended by the same kind of people, who have no clue about what has been done to them and is being done to them by the system they are a part of. To quote the prophet Jeremiah:
“The prophets (bible school teachers) prophesy falsely, and the priests (church leaders) bear rule by their means; and my people love to have it so: and what will ye do in the end thereof?” Jeremiah 5:31
The question for YOU is, are you also one of these people who may even think that he or she is testing the spirits, proving all things and earnestly contending for the faith and yet you never knew you were duped by some false teacher in a bible school or in a pulpit? Will this problem of false doctrine and orchestrated ignorance ever be resolved? Not by the clergy/laity system and their “institutes” of indoctrination (or higher learning as they perceive them to be). It can be resolved among each believer individually, as we truly investigate all teachings as the Bereans of Acts 17:11 did – and not trust anyone without checking scripture and without checking with “a multitude of counselors” (Proverbs 11:14 – i.e. trustworthy outside sources).
Any “clergy” person reading this article should seriously consider that perhaps you are in an unbiblical system and not in a true biblical church. Remember… to whom much is given, much is required (Luke 12:48). And be sure that you neither seek nor exercise some kind of special, exclusive authority over other believers that God has never granted to you. God has granted ALL believers authority over each other, to correct and rebuke, and that authority they have is over YOU as well as over each other.
What are my credentials for writing this paper? How would I know what most pastors and preachers learn or don’t learn in Bible schools? Well I will tell you… The Bible says “Ye shall know them by their fruits.” Matthew 7:16. Thirty five years in a wide spectrum of churches and listening to a great number of bible teachers and preachers, some considered very orthodox for that matter, has shown me exactly what these leaders are learning from the “system’s” educational institutes. And not being at all content with just their side of the story, I have done a great deal of research to see what other Christians have to say about ecclesiology, soteriology, eschatology, hermeneutics and various other Biblical fields of study. When I say “other Christians” I am talking about those who were part of the “system”, the institutional church, including in leadership roles, and who have since left that system. I am also talking about Christians who are true Bereans and true detectives when it comes to examining doctrines and practices that need to be examined and questioned … and then rejected in many cases. The apostle Paul stated that he had learned to be content in all things. He was not referring to being content with complacency or bad doctrine or bad practice, because he also said:
“Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain.” 1 Corinthians 9:24
And that is my hope for you dear reader… that you may run the race in your Christian life, so that you may obtain the prize. — R.M. Kane
Additional articles about church doctrine & practice:
- What Most Churches Don’t Teach Their Members
- How To Identify A Religious Cult
- The Clergy System
- The Royal Priesthood
- A Sincere Appeal
- Words They Never Taught Me In Sunday School