In October of this year our seminary commemorated its 25th year with a celebration event at the university. Alumni, representatives from our founding denominations, former professors and current faculty and students got together to thank God for his work in establishing this important ministry for the Slovak church.
Theological Education and the Church
Paul, in his letter to Timothy, emphasized the importance of passing on responsibility for Christ’s church to those who are well equipped for the task.
what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also
2 Tim 2:2
In fact, if you read his letters you’ll find throughout them the importance of holding on to good doctrine and passing it on to others. One way of doing that is through seminary training.
For students, seminary is a period of life dedicated to gaining a foundation of biblical knowledge and skills that they will build on and use through a lifetime of ministry for God’s kingdom. It gives them the foundation they need to “rightly handle the word of truth.”
Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.
2 Tim 2:15
For the church, the seminary means there is an institution entrusted with the specific task of training up the next generation of church leaders. And it’s more than that. In the academic environment of the seminary there are people who not only teach, but people dedicated to studying the Scriptures carefully and to thinking carefully about how the Scriptures should shape life in an ever changing world.
How should we as evangelical believers think about immigration? In a world with rapidly changing values with regard to sexuality and gender, how should we engage society on these issues? In a world where science is the primary force driving worldview, what are we to think of the Biblical account of creation?
So the seminary provides not only an environment for training up the next generation of leaders but also an environment for gifted people to dedicate their lives to the study and application of biblical theology.
A Herculean Legacy
Many stories could be told about how God worked to start and sustain the ministry of our seminary. There’s the story of how four denominations decided to work together for God’s kingdom since no one by itself is large enough to sustain its own seminary. Or there’s the story of Matej Bel University looking for a department of theology at the same time these four denominations realized it might be best to cooperate with the public university system.
I suppose my favorite would be how God used dedicated and gifted people to form the core that would become our faculty. Remember that under communism it was practically impossible to do graduate studies in theology. Our first professors were not professors at all. They were pastors committed to the importance of theological education. And so these first professors faced the task not only of establishing a completely new curriculum (teachers, think of that first year of prep), they had to prepare all the original class materials (not just syllabi but textbooks, class notes, everything) while working on their own PhD studies.
I am grateful to all these people who made huge sacrifices in order to start this ministry. I am grateful to God for sustaining it through his supernatural oversight. And I’m looking forward to seeing how God continues to use this ministry to grow his church in Slovakia.