By Mike McQueen
“The mission of Urbana Theological Seminary is to provide graduate theological education which prepares people for Christian ministry and leadership, equipping them to love, know, and serve God.”
When we chose this mission statement for Urbana Seminary, I was at first a little concerned we’d gotten part of it backward. We say we want to equip people to love, know and serve God. It seemed to me that “know” should have come first. After all, doesn’t knowledge precede love? Paul didn’t seem to think so. In 1 Corinthians 1, he says,
“For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written: “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.” 20 Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?” 1 Corinthians 1:18-20
Knowledge, Paul will later go on to say “puffs up”, but love builds up (1 Corinthians 8.1). That is not to say that knowledge is not important. But if it does not find it’s proper place in a person’s life, then it doesn’t lead to greater love for God. It will actually blind them to the very thing that they hope to discover.
It is the cross, with its message of love and reconciliation that leads a person to the love of the God who was willing to give it all for the beloved. And as we begin with the cross, and emphasize first the love of God, knowledge and service come forth naturally (and supernaturally!) to the glory of God, rather than the glory of the “wise man” and the “scholar.”
That doesn’t mean that scholarship is unimportant to us in the Christian community or Urbana Seminary. We are, after all, a graduate theological institution. But it does mean that as instructors, lecturers and professors, we want to emphasize that all we do flows from, and to, and for the love of God.
Knowing this and living it are unfortunately too often different things. Hence it’s essential to have education in community and with accountability. Please pray for us as faculty and students alike, that we grow to love, know and serve God in HIS way.
This is what the LORD says: “Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom or the strong man boast of his strength or the rich man boast of his riches, 24 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 these I delight,” declares the LORD. Jeremiah 9:23-24
Lecturer in Evangelism and Missions