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Seminary and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

January 13, 2011

In an attempt to keep in touch with students, I’ve taken to reading the Philly Metro. (For those unfamiliar with this publication, it’s a free daily paper in Philadelphia, New York and Boston with a reporting style that is like Sparks notes of USAToday.) The other day the Metro had article by Judy Weightman entitled “Considering an Education Option That’s Best for You.” I found the following quote interesting:

You may not need a traditional college degree. Depending on your career goal, you might do best with a school that will train you for that career. Examples are skills training for specific trades (like carpentry, hair-styling or auto mechanics) schools in the performing or visual arts and seminaries or rabbinical schools. (Emphasis mine)

What I found interesting about this quote is 1) it implies that you do not need a college degree to attend a seminary or rabbinic school, and 2) it equates an ecclesiastical calling with auto mechanics. I’ll leave the latter for others to decide, but I’m certain the first is wrong.

  1. January 13, 2011 1:52 pm

    According to the primary accrediting agency for Christian seminaries in the US and Canada, the Association of Theological Schools, a small number of students can be admitted to a seminary without an undergraduate degree depending on other factors without jeopardizing a seminary’s accreditation. There are such students in seminaries across the US including attending those in the Philadelphia area. Rabbinic schools have different accrediting and admissions systems. As to the second point, if vocations are God-given, then all vocations are equally worthy of respect as are the persons who hold them.

    • January 14, 2011 10:18 am


      Thanks for the info! It makes sense that there would be special conditions for students coming from unaccredited schools or countries with different paradigms for higher education. However, these cases are the exception that proves the norm, no?

  2. Wezlo permalink
    January 19, 2011 7:01 am

    Isn’t that the case for all graduate schools, though? I must do some reading.

    Jim’s right, though, it’s the exception that proves the rule. On the other hand, isn’t our MDiv a bachelors of divinity in Europe?

  3. February 2, 2011 1:22 pm

    You’re right — I phrased that badly. (And, as someone with a PhD in sociology of religion who attended a graduate school — Drew University — with significant program overlap with its seminary, I absolutely know better than that.) I was trying to cram in too much information, and my limited word count ended up trumping my meaning.

    It is the case that most mainstream denominations expect an MDiv for ordination, and that most people entering an MDiv program would have a bachelor’s. There are other denominations, however, that do not have that expectation, and there are denominations in which one’s religious calling might not lead to the ministry. That’s what I was trying to get at with “seminaries.” “Rabbinical schools” was just a misguided effort to be inclusive, and it was clearly wrong.

    Thanks for the correction — I’ll be more careful in the future.

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