The Glory Has Departed


Norma Boeckler, Artist in Residence

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Luther's Sermons, Lenker Series
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Friday, January 13, 2017

Lutheran Education and Teaching


 ELDONA's early commitment to UOJ is shown by its joint
meetings with the Rolf Preus Synod.
Heiser said of UOJ fanatic Rolf - "We'll get rid of him later."


Someone asked about seminary, earning theology degrees, and the future of teaching theology.

As I wrote before, I would never suggest wasting money on the following seminaries:

  • Concordia, Ft. Wayne, LCMS.
  • Concordia, St. Louise, LCMS.
  • Mordor - Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary, Mequon, WELS.
  • Little Mordor - Bethany Lutheran Seminary, ELS.
  • And the micro-mini schools, like ELDONA, with no faculty and one student. They have a "deacon" who is not qualified to teach and they reproduce the old error of academic in-breeding, teaching themselves the doctrinal errors and obsessions of their own sect.

As far as I can tell, Fuller Seminary has become the Walmart of denominational education. Setting aside the wildly pan-sexual, Universalist, lavender seminaries of the National Council of Churches (which also have Fuller links), the so-called conservative schools are populated with Fuller graduates and promote Fuller publications.

That Fuller saturation is especially true of the WELS, LCMS, ELS, and CLC (sic). I would be justly accused if I failed to mention the Roman/Eastern Orthodox factions at both Concordia seminaries and to some extent in ELDONA.

Wasting a ton of money at a seminary where the denomination will gladly let a man borrow himself into insolvency and then expel him - that makes no sense at all.  The Missouri Synod is famous for that. Someone said that the population of expelled LCMS pastors are largely Walmart workers today. I have no idea if that is true, but a Missouri MDiv prepares a man for nothing except aping the latest LCMS fads and groveling before the DP.

ELDONA suggsts that potential candidates leave good jobs and find a new career near Malone, Texas, for $10 an hour. For future security, I suggest also marrying the  daughter of an ELDONA pastor. Having a wife who will commute 100 miles each way for a real job is also a plus.



Alternatives
At this point an MDiv from anywhere is good if the governing body lets someone into their precious sect. I would definitely bargain-hunt with an eye to the future.

The brick-and-mortar seminaries have set up alternative programs which are making the actual campus and library obsolete. Online MDiv or MA degrees are possible - and even quite the bargain - compared to paying LCMS and WELS professors a fortune to read their yellowed notes to students. Why leave a real job for a gig at Starbucks? Why make one's wife an indentured servant of the synod? Long ago, Concordia St. Louis assumed the Mrs. would put her husband through seminary. This may lead to polygamy for the sake of professors' salaries. Time will tell.



Teaching in Higher Education
The denominations are coming apart, and so are their systems of higher education. When WELS decided to underfund their own schools, they drove up costs so high that the prep school, Northwestern College, Mordor combination became far too expensive to support. The others are no diferent.

The worst possible goal is to pursue a fake doctorate at a synodical school (LCMS) or a D.Min. (really the old STM degree, watered down). Many teaching jobs are available, but not teaching synodical loyalty to an indifferent population of college kids.

The important part of teaching at the college or graduate school level is having a balanced education, not all theology. Any hot program will get stone cold in time, so jumping on one topic for too long will be damaging. I took computer science for publishing, maybe for a job, when that was red-hot. That also died down after Y2K, so computer jobs were good for a block-long line out the door, massive layoffs, and other bad news.

The community college hired me for computer science, and so did a university. When that teaching field dried up, my liberal arts background got me into a bevvy of fun courses - business writing, communications, critical thinking, world religions, ancient history, and the history of the humanities. Seeing that I was treading on the quicksand of change, I earned an MA in adult education and took some journalism courses.

No seer could have told me what I would be teaching in the future. Once I had the paper in hand, doors opened. At the moment, I mostly teach Old Testament in graduate school, adult education in graduate school. I have taught young kids right out of high school or home-school, and grizzled old geezers like me.

Someone who wants to create a career in higher education should earn a doctorate. Anything below that will be seen as not tenure material. Tenure may go away, but schools love the doctorate. The normal rule now is a master's degree in the subject to be taught, but that depends on demand. When demand is high, fogging a mirror is enough.

My lab friend began teaching at the community college without having an undergraduate degree. I encouraged him. His two assets were being bi-lingual and patient with foreign or elderly students, the population of the so-called slow course. Now he has a doctorate. I am proud to say I got him enrolled to finish his degree and found a scholarship for him.