WE LIVE in a day of rapid change. Old foundations appear to be crumbling and long-established institutions are being questioned. The spirit of change has invaded the field of theological training. There never has been a time when the preparation of ministers has received such widespread attention. The claim is made that the type of education formerly given in theological schools will not prepare ministers to cope with the problems of modern society. The human race is undergoing profound changes and is groping in the dark for guiding principles and for solutions to the problems presently facing mankind.
1. Necessary to Understand Humanity
The American Association of Theological Seminaries has appointed various committees to restudy the curriculums of theological seminaries in an attempt to bring the training of ministers into step with current needs. Years ago Ellen G. White saw how necessary this was when she wrote, "As workers for God we must reach men where they are."—The Ministry of Healing, p. 511. Also, "He who seeks to transform humanity must himself understand humanity."—Education, p. 78. In the preparation of our ministry we must not ignore the present world in which we live. We must be aware of the problems that confront men today. We must keep abreast with the times and be alert to what the people are thinking. Only as a minister is able to understand the thoughts and feelings of others is he able to help them meet their needs. A thoroughly prepared minister will understand the factors in today's society that contribute to the shaping of lives.
2. Conviction of Commission Necessary
Important as human understanding and a knowledge of current social problems are to the Seventh-day Adventist minister, these alone are not enough. He must recognize that he is commissioned to proclaim a distinctive message to the world. He must not fail to teach all the doctrines of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. He must emphasize the soon return of Christ, and the coming doom of God's judgment upon an impenitent world.
Christ's ministry now proceeding in the heavenly sanctuary is of primary importance.
The ministry is obligated to speak out in no uncertain tones on moral issues. In a time when emphasis is being placed on "situational ethics" leaving people uncertain and with no definite guidance, it is the minister's duty to set forth right standards of faith and morals. Otherwise men have no foundation on which to make moral decisions. It must be emphasized that the law of God is the only standard by which character is to be measured.
3. Preaching With the Spirit's Power
We have emphasized two important aspects in the training of the minister. First, a knowledge of humanity and current social problems. Second, a thorough knowledge and conviction concerning the importance of the three angels' messages. But there is a third factor that is pre-eminently vital. That is the power of the Holy Spirit to finish the work of God. After the early disciples received the Holy Spirit, they preached with a new power. "The Jewish leaders had supposed that the work of Christ would end with His death; but instead of this, they witnessed the marvelous scenes of the day of Pentecost. They heard the disciples, endowed with a power and energy hitherto unknown, preaching Christ, their words confirmed by signs and wonders. In Jerusalem, the stronghold of Judaism, thousands openly declared their faith in Jesus of Nazareth as the Messiah. The disciples were astonished and overjoyed at the greatness of the harvest of souls."—The Acts of the Apostles, p. 44.
Our message is to be proclaimed with greater power than that of the early church. "But near the close of earth's harvest, a special bestowal of spiritual grace is promised to prepare the church for the coming of the Son of man. This outpouring of the Spirit is likened to the falling of the latter rain; and it is for this added power that Christians are to send their petitions to the Lord of the harvest 'in the time of the latter rain.' "—Ibid., p. 55.
We must see that renewed emphasis is placed on spiritual revival and the urgent need of the gift of the Holy Spirit.
We are stirred by the appeals that are coming through the pages of the Review and Herald and THE MINISTRY magazine. In answer to the appeal of the General Conference president the students of the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary drew up and signed the following statement:
November 29, 1966
Elder Robert H. Pierson
General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists
6840 Eastern Ave., NW. Washington, D.C.
DEAR ELDER PIERSON:
We, the theology students of Andrews University Theological Seminary, have carefully appraised your letter of challenge as published in the November, 1966, issue of THE MINISTRY.
We understand the need of this hour, we sense the urgency of your appeal, and though partially confined within the walls of a university, we wish to respond to your challenge.
With you, we pledge our allegiance to the gospel committed to us, we rededicate our entire lives to its speedy proclamation, we envision its culmination in this generation, and we eagerly look for that blessed hope.
May the evangelistic resurgence for which you call quickly encompass the entire church, and for this we earnestly pray.
In token of our response to God's challenge through you, we attach our names hereunder.
Sincerely yours in the blessed hope,
This spontaneous response from the students in our Theological Seminary brings courage to our hearts and promises that strong reinforcements will soon enter the field to carry the message to all the world, and thus hasten the coming of Jesus.