Sunday, July 24, 2011

Philipp Jakob Spener on Pastoral Training

"In regard to the education of pastors, Spener [1635-1705] argues that they must be trained in universities and schools that should be recognized as 'workshops of the Holy Spirit rather than places of worldliness and indeed of the devils of ambition, tippling, carousing, and brawling.' In the selection of candidates for the ministry, Spener is convinced that 'a young man who fervently loves God, although adorned with limited gifts, will be more useful to the church of God with his meager talent and academic achievement than a vain and worldly fool with double doctor's degrees who is very clever but has not been taught by God.'" - William Baird, History of New Testament Research Volume 1: From Deism to Tübingen (Minneapolis: Fortress, 1992), 61.

Baird calls this "implicit anti-intellectualism." I wouldn't call it that as long as Spener didn't consider academic training dispensible.


Jeromey said...

Spener's writing to combat the state (-church)-controlled training of pastors for ministry, under which system (he perceives) candidates require any longer neither moral nor spiritual commitment to become ministers but only scholastic achievement.

Who can blame him for that?

I've found Spener's /Pia Desideria/ (from which this passage comes) foundational for my own philosophy of Christian education.

(I wonder to what extent the charge of "anti-intellectualism" just choruses Reformed anti-pietism stereotypes?)

d. miller said...

Thanks Jeromey. I've added Spener to my reading list after Baxter's Reformed Pastor.