Adequate Training for Task

Adequate Training for Task—No.2

By way of suggestion, it might be well to give some study to the advisability of arranging for fourteen-grade ministerial graduates to have one year of internship before they go on and complete the sixteen-grade course in col­lege.

By Louis K. DICKSON, President Northern California Conference

Undoubtedly we should always have a way whereby superior, exceptionally endowed men of maturity may enter the min­istry in spite of the fact that they have not reached the higher levels in scholastic training, should the Lord indicate that He is calling them to take up this sacred work. But quali­fied men cannot usually be found today among those who have reached only the fourteen-grade level. There are, of course, exceptions to this rule, but very few.

By way of suggestion, it might be well for this company of experienced leaders to give some study to the advisability of arranging for fourteen-grade ministerial graduates to have one year of internship before they go on and complete the sixteen-grade course in col­lege. Such a plan would give conference lead­ers a chance to measure the students' natural ability for the ministry, and to advise early in regard to the probability of their making a success in this calling before they spend their time in acquiring a complete college ministerial course.

There are many good and sufficient reasons why we should call for a sixteen-grade educa­tion in our ministry, but there are also some grave dangers of which we should not be un­mindful as we emphasize this rule. May I hasten to say, however, that I believe the need demands it, and the good accomplished by lift­ing our standard for the ministry far out­weighs the dangers that lurk in such a plan.

Now let us look at some of the dangers. First, let us remember the dangers which have confronted our schools and educators ever since we as a denomination have sought for the higher levels in our training schools. These same dangers will confront the ministry as we emphasize higher education for the preacher. Foremost among these is the danger of mistaking scholarship for education, and of making degrees the dominating test of men for our leading positions. We have been told:

"It is loving earnestness that God requires at this time. Ministers may have but little learning from books; but if they do the best they can with their talents ; if they work as they have opportunity ; if they clothe their utterances in the plainest and most simple language ; if they walk in carefulness and humility, seeking for heavenly wisdom ; if they work for God from the heart, actuated by love for Christ and the souls for whom Christ has died, they will be listened to by men of even superior ability and talents. There will be a charm in the simplicity of the truths they present.

"The men who have spent long terms in the study of books are not all revealing in their lives that earnest ministry which is essential for this time. Some do not have a simple, straightforward testi­mony. Among ministers there is a need of the in­fusion of the Spirit of God. The prayerful, earnest appeals that come from the heart of the wholehearted messenger, will create conviction. It will not need the learned men to do this ; for often they depend more on their own learning than upon their knowl­edge of God, and of Jesus Christ, whom He has sent. All who know the only true and living God will know Jesus Christ, the only begotten of the Father, and they will preach Christ and Him cru­cified."—Mrs. E. G. White in Review and Herald, Aug. 2, 1898.

There is also the danger of thinking along negative lines rather than positive. The es­sence and spirit of much of modern research is skepticism. Much of scienc.e and a large part of philosophy today are destructive rather than constructive. Sad will be the day when this ministry becomes in any sense dominated by such so-called learning.

Third, in placing the emphasis which should be placed upon higher levels of learning for the ministry, there lurks the danger of the lack of ability to do creative thinking—a lack seen in the lives of too many of our college gradu­ates. They have gained such a lofty admira­tion for men of higher learning that they have emerged merely as copyists rather than creators of thought. If the training of our ministers will not bring them forth as in­dependent, creative thinkers, with the ability of using facts which they have learned in the giving of the gospel message in its truest setting, they will be better without it. As we reach out for higher levels in training and thinking, there must ever be preserved true humility, mental humility with knowledge among the ministry. There are forces and influences at work in the circles of higher learning, even in the midst of our own col­leges, which, if imbibed by the ministry, will paralyze and defeat us on the very thresh-hold of the church's greatest and final triumph.

Transcending every other consideration in importance in connection with the ministry of this movement is the question as to whether, with our new recruits to the ministry, we shall preserve that which was bequeathed to us by the founders of this movement. Is the minis­try today clothed with the mantle of the pioneers of the advent movement? In our preparation of young men for the ministry, do we send them forth clothed with a like mantle? This matter is of vaster importance than the question of how we shall meet the issues of the present hour. This is the mightiest issue which we face. The pristine, primitive spirit of this movement must be preserved at all hazards. There is a real danger that in the acquisition of higher learning in preparation to meet the world in this hour, we shall lose the identifying spirit which God placed in the hearts and lives of the pioneers of this move­ment.

It is not the onslaughts of the educated classes of the world which form the greatest dangers to this work. The greatest danger that we face as ministers of this cause is that of veering our course away from the true objec­tives and standards placed before us by God in the beginnings of our work. We should be more concerned today about preserving those things which will deepen the spirituality of our people and tend toward a better representation or Christ, than about gaining educational standing and merely intellectual prowess. Our supreme concern now should be over whether this movement is losing in any degree, at the hand of the ministry, that identifying character with which it was first endowed. These are the things of greatest moment in fitting a peo­ple to stand in the presence of the Lord.

Uncertainty has marked the product of higher learning in these modern times in the world. That same danger, born of intellectual egotism, confronts this ministry in its reach­ing out for a much-needed higher learning and training. We must needs have the product of that higher training, and we must, under God withal preserve these most precious posses­sions of our heritage.


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By Louis K. DICKSON, President Northern California Conference

March 1939

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