There are many valid reasons to attend an online theology school, but people often don’t warn you about why you shouldn’t attend an online seminary. The hidden truth of the shortcomings of online seminaries is now revealed. Here are 3 reasons why you should keep away from an online theology school.
There is no commute time
If you choose to attend an online theology school, think of the hours of “me” time you will miss by not commuting. You won’t get to listen to music, enjoy road rage, or drive around campus for 30 minutes looking for a parking space. Attending an online theology school is the most narcissistic thing you can do. Think of the people in the business office that will lose their jobs because online students are not buying parking decals every year. Commuting is simply good stewardship.
There is nothing better than being stuck in traffic on your way to school. It develops character and your prayer life. Who needs the prayer closet when you have a long commute to seminary? Without a commute, you miss the opportunity to pray for the man in the next lane who is giving you a hand gesture, or the woman in the MINI Cooper with a COEXIST Peace Religion sticker on her window. What about the extra credit you will lose from your evangelism class if a “Honk if you love Jesus” sticker on your bumper no longer counts? Surely an hour in traffic is an hour of witnessing. If you are stopped for speeding, police are sympathetic of seminarians driving and memorizing Greek using flash cards. When the police approach your vehicle, practice your Greek and say “εἰρήνη.”
An online school doesn’t build up the immune system
How can you fulfill the biblical command to greet one another with a holy kiss (Romans 16:16) if you meet in virtual space? Sitting close to fellow students who carry viruses and other communicable illnesses is a necessary part of the educational process. If you work on your studies at home, you don’t build up the immune system. A germ-filled environment develops patience, longsuffering, and love for fellow students. Putting aside Lev. 15:5, 7, 11, and 13, sharing germs is one of the highest forms of fellowship. Not only do you receive the blessing of colds, mono, influenza, intestinal disorders, conjunctivitis, and other “itis,” you also get to share these microorganisms with colleagues, family, and friends. Online schools are certified GF. We’re talking Germ Free, people. GF is more demonic than Gluten Free desserts.
There is no anonymity in an online theology school
The hallmark of theological training is hiding at the back of the class. And if you have divine favor, the professor won’t ask you a question about the reading assignment or ask for your opinion. Anonymity, for lack of a better word, is good. Anonymity is right, anonymity works. Anonymity clarifies, cuts through, and captures the essence of higher learning. Anonymity, in all its forms, anonymity in the classroom, in worship services, small groups, and in the community, has marked the upward surge of education. And anonymity, mark my words, will not only save theological education, but the malfunctioning institution called the Church. (Thanks to Gordon Gekko, in the movie “Wall Street,” for this inspirational thought.)
Education is to be a consumer event, a spectator sport. Students asking questions, sharing faith experiences with colleagues, and working in teams to solve real ministry challenges is unproductive and ineffective. Being able to study on your schedule and to interact with students every day of the week is postmodern. The brain was never wired for such hyperactivity and social engagement. Interactive learning is a new age philosophy that is destroying theological education and warping the minds of seminarians. There is nothing more spiritual than sleeping undisturbed through a 3-hour lecture and regurgitating the facts on a test.
In conclusion, commuting, immunity, and anonymity are three good reasons to keep away from an online theology school that allows you to develop your ministry skills without leaving your family and ministry field.
About the Writer: Dr. Daryl Eldridge has served as Dean at one of the largest residential theological seminaries, served on staff at several churches helping to develop the ministry skills of leaders, taught in blended programs, and is now the president of Rockbridge Seminary, a fully online accredited seminary.