Several years ago as we sought to develop the credibility and expand the usefulness of Covenant Baptist Theological Seminary, the necessity of having a clear constitution for the Seminary became clear to us. I was charged to write that constitution. That responsibility forced me to think carefully through the philosophy of theological education we had developed as an institution. This philosophy was developed from the Word of God applied to the particular providences which have molded CBTS. It is, of course, altered here somewhat in its form from the Preamble to our Constitution.
I. The Material Substance of Theological Education
The first thing to be considered in a biblical philosophy of theological education is the question, “What is it that theological education seeks to teach?” This question has to do, then, with the material substance of theological education. In what does the subject-matter of theological education consist? That is, “Into what intellectual material does theological education intend to introduce its students?”
A. The Supreme Importance of Christian Truth (John 8:32; 14:6; 17:17, 19; 18:37-38)[i]
Here we must surely remind ourselves of the premium which the religion of the Bible places upon “truth.” As the passages cited above from John’s Gospel make clear, it is the truth which liberates men from the dominion of sin. The Scriptures make clear that this truth is the truth centered in the Mediator who said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” Those liberated by this truth centered in the one Mediator between God and men are further sanctified in their life and conduct by this truth. Finally, it is this truth, as the passages also make clear, which a fallen world either completely denies or deeply doubts can be known.
B. Christian Theology as Christian Truth
Clearly, theological education has as its goal to acquaint its students with the science of theology. An extended examination of the definition of theology is out of place here. Suffice to say that this essay assumes that theology is the science of God. When properly expanded and analyzed, this definition of theology means: “the science of God and His relations to the universe as He has revealed himself and them for our knowledge and worship unto His glory and our salvation.” If this expanded definition is correct, then theology is substantially identical to (what we have called) Christian truth. The science of theology is simply the systematic or scientific study of Christian truth. Theological Education is, then, the task of educating men in what is the supremely important area of human knowledge, Christian truth.
Thus, the assumption of this attempt to provide a biblical philosophy of theological education is that Christian theology—properly so called and properly understood—is just Christian truth carefully, systematically, comprehensively understood. The science of theology, in other words, is just the science of Christian truth. It is the science of the truth as it is in Jesus (Eph. 4:21)[ii].
[i] John 8:32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.
John 14:6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.
John 17:17, 19 Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth. 19 For their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they themselves also may be sanctified in truth.
John 18:37-38 Therefore Pilate said to Him, “So You are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say correctly that I am a king. For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.” 38 Pilate said to Him, “What is truth?” And when he had said this, he went out again to the Jews and said to them, “I find no guilt in Him.
[ii] Ephesians 4:21 if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught in Him, just as truth is in Jesus,
Dr. Sam Waldron is the Academic Dean of CBTS and professor of Systematic Theology. He is also one of the pastors of Grace Reformed Baptist Church in Owensboro, KY. Dr. Waldron received a B.A. from Cornerstone University, an M.Div. from Trinity Ministerial Academy, a Th.M. from Grand Rapids Theological Seminary, and a Ph.D. from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. From 1977 to 2001 he was a pastor of the Reformed Baptist Church of Grand Rapids, MI. Dr. Waldron is the author of numerous books including A Modern Exposition of the 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith, The End Times Made Simple, Baptist Roots in America, To Be Continued?, and MacArthur’s Millennial Manifesto: A Friendly Response.