( Jeremiah 3:15 )
The Nigerian Baptist Theological Seminary, Ogbomoso takes pride in offering excellent theological education since 1898. As an academic institution, the Seminary promotes and offers Christian education (learning that is God-centered, based on biblical revelation and applied to life and ministry). Of a truth, the quality of NBTS instructional process is good, thorough, deep and comprehensive.
Foundation of Sound Academics
God is the source of knowledge and wisdom. His understanding is limitless and unfathomable (Isaiah 44:28).God knows everything perfectly (I John 3:20; Job 37:16). Wisdom is right application of knowledge. God is also “the only wise God” (Rom. 16:27). God is thus omniscient (that is all-knowing) and the omniscience of God is an encouragement for children of God to seek knowledge and wisdom through academic studies rationally and empirically.
The Nature of Knowledge
NBTS is a leadership development institution. Leaders are trained both for gospel work in the church (ministers – as pastors, teachers, evangelists, missionaries, musicians) and also for the development of society (professionals – as teachers, farmers, journalists, bankers, engineers, business persons, nurses, doctors, lawyers, politicians and community leaders). In the Biblical tradition every leader of God’s people is a shepherd. Kings, priests and prophets are all shepherds. Through Jeremiah God declared his resolve to raise shepherds to lead his people.
Then I will give you shepherds after my own heart,
who will lead you with knowledge and understanding
(Jeremiah 3:15, NIV).
God is not opposed to knowledge and understanding. Unfortunately, today, knowledge has a bad press because worldly wisdom and philosophy promotes worldliness (I Cor. 1:20-21) and it is opposed to the intelligence and wisdom of the cross (I Cor. 1:18-19cf. 2:6-10). The critical issue is that abuse of a thing does not invalidate its use. Ignorance is no bliss. God is not a god of ignorance. People perish without knowledge (Hosea 4:6). The goal of NBTS academic work is to train and equip leaders to know God and love God with their heart, soul and mind. According to Jesus Christ, the first and greatest commandment is this:
Love the Lord your God with all your heart
and with all your soul and with all your mind.
(Matthew 22:37, NIV).
Theological education is neither understood nor appreciated, understandably by the public. Most people called by God enroll for formal ministerial formation with the thought that the training programme is just like a spiritual retreat. The problem is that when we talk about knowledge today the emphasis of people is on head knowledge. This is a very wrong notion. Christian knowledge is not mere acquisition of information. The information is meant to provoke and aid transformation. The preacher thus laments justifiably that knowledge and wisdom that do not promote the fear of God is meaningless and vain (Ecclesiastes 1:12-18). The truth is that such knowledge often puffs up (I Cor. 8:1). It promotes pride and arrogance. Many theologically trained gospel ministers have made the mistake of preaching and teaching above the level of church members. Such intellectual bullies neither glorify God nor grow the work of the gospel.
Knowledge in biblical sense is wholistic – spiritual and academic, and a person with correct knowledge is one with sound heart and mind. Whereas people consider the head to be the organ of thought, we are also required to think with our heart in biblical revelation (Prov. 23:7, KJV; Mark 2:8). The focus of theological education is first of all knowledge of God, to help a person to know God, to love God, to fear God and to obey God. Knowledge that is not God-centered is idolatry. The Lord thus declares that the true hall mark of knowledge is not merely theoretical but experiential and practical.
But let him who boasts boast about this: that he understands and knows me,
that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth,
for in this I delight,” declares the Lord
(Jeremiah 9:24, NIV).
It is because of the wholistic nature of knowledge that theological education curriculum is integrative. The studies integrate several disciplines: general, biblical, theological, historical, missional, ethical, philosophical, educational, musical and worship studies. The study also takes place in a community that balance worship, faith, learning and service. Students are thus prepared for life beyond the training period which is often a combination of diverse daily activities – personal, family, church, community, spiritual, social and academic.
Dynamics of Academic Transformation
NBTS students are adults (young, median and senior). Since adults learn by self-discovery, the Seminary educational process is strong in continuous assessments. Students are assigned personal reading, group works, research and field works, etc and the teaching-learning dynamic is evaluated through both formative and summative examinations. Through exposure to information (theories and principles) students are prepared and developed for practical ministries.
Illustrative Example: Daniel
The Word of God provides many examples of godly intellectuals who served the purpose of God. Discuss how Daniel exemplified godly knowledge.
- Daniel 1:4: He showed aptitude for every kind of learning, he was well informed, and quick to understand.
- Daniel 1:20: He excelled in wisdom and understanding.
- Daniel 2:19, 28: He received mysteries from God by revelation.
Hymn: “The Master Hath Come”
- The Master hath come, and He calls us to follow
The track of the footprints He leaves on our way;
Far over the mountain and thro’ the deep hollow,
The path leads us on to the mansions of day:
The Master hath called us, the children who fear Him,
Who march ‘neath Christ’s banner, His own little band;
We love Him and seek Him, we long to be near Him,
And rest in the light of His beautiful land.
- The Master hath called us; the road may be dreary,
And dangers and sorrows are strewn on the track;
But God’s Holy Spirit shall comfort the weary;
We follow the Savior and cannot turn back;
The Master hath called us: tho’ doubt and temptation
May compass our journey, we cheerfully sing:
“Press onward, look upward,” thro’ much tribulation;
The children of Zion must follow their King.
- The Master hath called us, in life’s early morning,
With spirits as fresh as the dew on the sod:
We turn from the world, with its smiles and its scorning,
To cast in our lot with the people of God:
The Master hath called us, His sons and His daughters,
We plead for His blessing and trust in His love;
And thro’ the green pastures, beside the still waters,
He’ll lead us at last to His kingdom above.
Prayer: Pray that you may grow in the knowledge of God, to love God, to fear God, to obey God, to live for God and to serve the purpose of God.