I fully understand where this question comes from. It is, unfortunately rare to find someone who is well trained Biblically, theologically, philosophically, and apologetically. So when we run across someone who has such specialized training, it is easy to assume they pursued formal education in order to obtain it.
What I want to tell people who ask (and seldom have the chance to do so fully in the span of a few seconds) is that I am nobody special and encourage them by getting them to understand that they can learn and grow just as well as I can and have1.
Stephen at “Chronological Bible Storying Journal – Rural Brazil”, in a post outlining lessons learned regarding discipleship [HT Alan Knox], observed:
Don’t be a Bible scholar. When I first arrived in Brazil, I loved to talk theology and apologetics. This was expected in many pastoral circles in America. Inadvertently, I began to create a dependency on me as the expert and not the Bible. People would not trust themselves to understand the Bible or apply it correctly. (Incidentally, this is an extreme problem in Brazil, even in evangelical churches. It creates a passive and shallow form of Christianity.) I had to change from teaching to asking questions, and guiding discovery. Huge difference.
I believe Stephen is dead-on, here. Which is why I take great joy in telling the people who ask me where I went to seminary: Nowhere, but I am Biblically trained.
If time permits, this answer leads gracefully into the obvious follow-up question of what resources I recommend to them to assist them in their walk.
We may not all have the resources or opportunity to attend seminary, but especially in the 21st century we do all have access to some excellent training material to make us all better biblical scholars.
For anyone interested, here is a list I wrote a while back where you can find some excellent training material.
- Not that I’ve learned all there is to learn, mind you, growth and learning is a lifelong commitment. [↩]