Christianity Knowledge Base

A seminary is a specialized university-like institution for the purpose of instructing students (seminarians) in theology, often in order to prepare them to become members of the clergy. This usually, though not always, applies to Christian and Jewish education. These institutions may also be known as theological colleges, particularly in the United Kingdom and South Africa. Where they are part of another tertiary education institution they are typically called a school of theology or divinity school. They usually offer professional graduate degrees (i.e. M.Div., Th.M., D.Min., etc.).

Bible colleges tend to provide a similar education, often at the undergraduate level and either evangelical or fundamentalist in orientation. Such institutions may also focus more on lay education.

Roman Catholic seminaries usually have their degrees conferred by a Pontifical university.

Although the primary purpose of a seminary is to prepare and equip candidates for religious service in the church or synagoguecongregation leadership—many people not intending to become such leaders may study in seminaries. Qualifications may be obtained majoring in pastoral work and similar fields, as well as in the more academic disciplines.

Many monks and nuns attend a seminary to enhance their qualifications. It is also quite common for lay people to study in a seminary to enhance their spiritual life, to explore academic interests, or to prepare for non-ordained ministries (for example, choir directors or Sunday school teachers).

Many Christian denominations cooperate in providing theological education for students preparing for ordination and a number of consortia or other cooperative arrangements have been established, for example in Australia there are the Melbourne and Adelaide Colleges of Divinity and the Australian College of Theology comprising a number of seminaries working together.

Youth seminaries[]

The word seminary also applies to a school of religious education for children that accompanies normal secular education. A prominent example of this is the seminary education system of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which provides extended study of theology and religious text throughout the school week, in addition to normal Sunday classes. These types of seminaries schedule classes before or after regular school time, or negotiate agreed "release time" permits with the nearest public school districts to allow students to voluntarily leave school grounds for an allotted amount of time (usually one class period) to receive seminary education. In predominantly LDS communities, LDS seminary facilities are commonly built on Church-owned properties that immediately neighbor the grounds of state-owned public schools, allowing individual students to simply walk between school and seminary during their scheduled release time. These arrangements work to ease the integration of secular and religious study into a child's school day without inappropriately (or illegally) violating the separation of church and state in secular society. In some cases, especially in states other than Utah, seminary is held before school. This is referred to as "early morning seminary" and is often held at a member's house or another building. Early morning seminary is very common when there are not enough Mormon members that attend the local school to justify building a seminary classroom.

Teaching seminaries[]

In many countries, the term seminary is also used for secular, mostly state-owned schools that train teachers. While the function of the teaching seminaries and religious seminaries is different, the terminology has not changed (compare the use of "dean" in education and the use of the term "dean" in religion). Teacher seminaries of the 19th century also employed stringent discipline and required impeccable behavior. In Nordic countries with a Lutheran state religion, there was little ambiguity, as the training of Lutheran priests was the duty of theology departments of the state universities.

When founded in the 19th century, teacher seminaries enrolled primary school graduates, but gradually the requirements were increased until, in the middle of the 20th century, the requirement was raised to high school diploma. At the same time, most teacher seminaries in the Nordic countries were incorporated into universities as part of their education colleges. Some–most notably the Seminary of Jyväskylä, Finland–formed the basis of entire universities.

See also[]

  • Graduate Programs in Religion

External links[]

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