Online Divinity Degrees
Daniel Wallace has an excellent post here on "Online Divinity Degrees: Two-Dimensional Preparation for a Three-Dimensional World." Wallace is not simply being a Luddite but expresses legitimate concerns related to online education and those preparing for ministry.
I read this post with mixed feelings. I agree that for many situations, particularly for academic preparation, there is nothing like being present at an educational institution. Who could argue against the value of interning for Dan Wallace for a year?
Nevertheless, I think that institutional vs online education is the wrong comparison to make. The percentage of people who can step out of normal life to pursue a graduate degree is small. There may be many reasons for this. Financial, family, other career considerations, etc. The real comparison to be made is not institutional vs online. The real comparison is online vs none. How many pastors are there struggling in ministry because they have no theological education? They have been called to a ministry position, perhaps because their gifting has been noticed, but never had the opportunity to get the education that would help them. They cannot leave their positions (ministry, wife, kids, home, etc.) and take three or four years out of their life to get an education. The few who can come back with graduate level debt to a job that often pays the rate of a low-level laborer.
Further, there are some advantages to an online education that cannot be had at a brick and mortar school. If I am a student at a seminary, I can take a class and wonder how I might use this. It is left to my imagination how the stuff I am learning in my biblical counseling class might play out in a real-life scenario I will encounter a few years down the line. If I am already in a full-time ministry position, I know right away how I can use this info. In fact, my immediate needs might drive me to deeper study because I can see it will have immediate application, immediate impact in the lives of the struggling couple I am counseling. Ditto for preaching, youth ministry, apologetics, in short, everything I am studying.
The real comparison to be made is not institutional vs online. The real comparison is online vs none.
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