Our Priceless Theological Seminary

A conference president student gives heartfelt praise.

By E. L. BRANSON, President of the Missouri Conference

Every true Seventh-day Adventist minister longs to see our special message heralded to the ends of the earth. Most of our men are ardent preachers of the funda­mental principles which we hold sacred. Yet, in a world filled with doubt, perplexities con­stantly arise. Historical landmarks are some­times questioned, and Biblical references to geography appear to confuse. Scientific prob­lems of all sorts demand attention. Where is the scholarship to really assist in such mat­ters? How can the average busy minister have access to library facilities adequate to meet these current questions? Our Theo­logical Seminary at Washington, D.C., has not solved all such problems, but in this school we have a plan which will come nearer to meeting the present exigencies than anything yet de­vised.

It was my privilege to spend six weeks last winter in the classrooms of the seminary. Confused and conflicting opinions had been expressed by some, and I wanted to find out for myself. I enrolled in three classes—the Sanctuary, Near Eastern Antiquity, and He­brew. The class periods were one and one half hours each, four or five times a week. The time I was not working on definite assign­ments, I spent in the General Conference library, the Review and Herald library, and the Library of Congress. I gathered together some facts I had long wanted to secure, and this in itself was of great value to me.

And what about the teachers in the school? Truth should be able to stand any amount of investigation, yet we have seen brilliant men become vague on definitely revealed doctrines. So I wondered, Will this group of men who have specialized in various fields of history, archeology, theology, prophecy, etc., be real Seventh-day Adventists? I can gladly say that the Spirit of the Master was indeed present at every class period. Never have I seen closer devotion to the principles of our distinctive faith. The Spirit of prophecy was consulted constantly as authoritative. It is the faculty that makes a school.

As a people we must avoid the two extremes exemplified in various religious organizations, —monastic scholasticism on the one hand, and enthusiastic misstatement on the other. Cer­tainly the president and faculty of the semi­nary are staying in the middle of the road. Their desire is that our message might be fervently preached with evangelistic power, and that correlated facts be historically true and scientifically accurate. The seminary needs a building to house its growing library. Well might it also provide space for the valuable Ellen G. White manuscripts, and the more than seven thousand advent source docu­ments acquired by the General Conference in the last few years.

A worker of years of experience asked me recently, "Tell me seriously, what do you think of the seminary now that you have beep, there?"

I replied, "I feel it is the greatest forward step this denomination has taken in many years."

He then soliloquized: "And no one paid you to say that either."

Brethren in the ministry, it is true ! I feel that I have been on a quest and have found a priceless treasure. I do not wish to appear overzealous, and if my expressions appear too enthusiastic, then I can only say that my ap­preciation is so profound that it would be impossible to overstate the esteem in which I hold this institution.

I believe in action in the field and hard work along all lines; but I am convinced that any conference worker will receive a fresh inspiration, will be more confident of the foundation principles of this message, will feel refreshed, and will accomplish more for the cause if he can spend some time at our gradu­ate school. Scholarship should be put to use, and those dealing with sacred truths should be scholars. I trust that the time will come when every active minister can attend the seminary for twelve weeks at least once in five years. Teachers are constantly studying to keep up in their fields. Doctors must go away for postgraduate work periodically. Doubtless if we came aside for real study from time to time, our ministry would be more effective than it is now. Not only does one learn important facts, but he is associated with fellow ministers and teachers from all over the world. It reminds one of the school of the prophets of old.

I appreciated the strong counsels given by the General Conference officers during the school session. Elder McElhany and others gave excellent practical lectures, bringing to us a larger view of our world program and stressing fundamental truths. President M. E. Kern deserves real praise for his spirit of helpfulness at all times. His leadership is definite and kind, and is appreciated by all.

If you are a wide-awake, progressive worker for God and want to find sanctified scholarship, then attend our seminary. If you question the program, then be fair to your­self, and investigate it. I am confident that you, too, will say with the students of the first winter session of the school's history (1937-38), that this school is an answer to our fervent prayers.

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By E. L. BRANSON, President of the Missouri Conference

August 1938

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