The fourth part of the Book shifts gears as it starts to ask the question about what then happens after the student leaves seminary and begins their ministry. The book uses the examples it built earlier in the chapter and basically asserts that the fascinated students become frustrated in the ministry, the deeply troubled became despite to leave, the seed of doubt turn into the blossoms of unbelief, the diligent turn into the disenchanted. What you ultimately see and the authors bring out is that the fruit of what is taught in liberals seminaries has fruit which causes them to basically hate doing any part of the work that involves theology, preaching, teaching or dealing with people’s religious beliefs. Ultimately it leads them to find ways to cope that do not work or they simply quit.
I found myself as I was reading this morning becoming a little angry. It is not the fact that liberal theology is taught in seminaries, it is not that pastor’s question their faith or that this leads to problem in the ministry that angers me because given the seeds I am not surprised at the fruit. What angered me is that not one time in all the quotes from the students that struggled in the ministry was there any questioning of what they had been taught in seminary. The Bible became the whipping boy but they never bothered to see if the whip was faulty. There is no questioning in any of it about what they were taught being wrong and the Bible being possibly right. It is all one direction.
When then dealing with the New Transparency I begin to wonder if it is all that it is cracked up to be. Don’t get me wrong, information technology has some challenges to faith that need to be addressed but what happens when you had doubts before seminary and all seminary does is feed those doubts and you never really bother to be skeptical of what your being taught what does that say? Is the New Transparency really causing this or the blinders an individual person already has about their doubt? You can have all the transparent information available but if a person only wants to see what they want to see does it matter? I am not sure this is doubt so much as self-deception.
My point is this, bias is just as present in liberal seminaries as conservative ones. I think I got both sides first in that I had a Bible College education that had conservatives that genuinely took on liberal theories. I also had a seminary education that had both liberal and conservative professors and there was true and genuine debate between the two sides that students could see. What this causes is not reinforcement of already existing belief or non belief but instead a genuine debate as to the nature of truth and faith. The problem is I think what I experienced is very rare in terms of what is out there.
The problem is the authors never show a student who actually looks, using the new transparency, for solutions to his or her faith dilemma. What they show is that these students simply have doubts, reinforce those doubts but never really look at the possibility that their doubts may have faulty foundations. Either they are showing only what they researched which points to a flaw in the people with doubts to their faith, or they left these things intentionally out which given who the authors are I highly doubt. Perhaps later in the book (This is Cold Reading remember) they will deal with this question.
Next: From the Ivory Tower to the People in the Pew (Part IV)