Why Seminaries Should Teach Prolegomena

As I have taught apologetics over the last several years, I always have to take some time to define apologetics and how it plays a role in both the local congregation and the culture around us. One thing that has always been on my heart is the need for all seminaries to teach what is called Prolegomena. Prolegomena is more of a formal study about theological method. Most Christian seminaries do a lot to equip students to exegete the Bible correctly. This generally happens by learning the biblical languages and hermeneutics (the art and science of biblical interpretation). While this is very important, my experience has shown that unless we teach prolegomena, we will continue to reap the results. And this is where we see a direct relationship between prolegomena and apologetics.

For example, let’s say you have thousands of seminary students who graduate who are very skilled at exegeting the text. While I am all for this, the problems is that the majority of these people (and teachers) start with a set of presuppositions that a fairly large part of our culture rejects. Here are some of the topics that should be discussed:

1. Metaphysics: What is the nature of reality? Is nature all there is?

2. Epistemology (the study of knowledge): How do we form a robust epistemology? What does it mean to say we know God exists?

3. God: What evidence is there that the Biblical God is the true God? Why not accept a pantheistic God or the God of process theology?

4. Miracles:  Without miracles (such as the resurrection) being both possible and actual, our faith is really not very unique. What about other miracle claims in other religions? There is an overall skepticism towards miracles in the West. How do we answer these issues?

5. History: Is history knowable? What historical method are we teaching our students? And as far as miracles, can history evaluate a miracle claim such as the resurrection?

6. Hermeneutics: Can we arrive at an objective meaning in the text?

7. Bibliology: Is the Bible an authoritative guide for us? What does it mean to say the Bible is authoritative and inspired?

8. Ethics: Is the Bible a source of ethics for us? How would we explain this to the world around us.

Conclusion

If we continue to start with the Bible itself without Prolegomena, we will end up causing thousands of Christians to beg the question to those we minister to. To beg the question is to take for granted or assume the truth of the very thing being questioned. My advice for seminaries is to make it mandatory for all students to take a class on Prolegomena.

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