Sunday, July 02, 2006

What is a Seminary? The Basics

Sorry, forgot to start with enough of the basics to stop the conclusion jumpers from getting the tops of their heads bruised. ;)

A seminary is a specialized and usually live-in university-like institution for the purpose of instructing students (seminarians) in philosophy, theology, spirituality and the religious life, usually in order to prepare them to become members of the clergy.

From the Seminary entry on Wikipedia.


The word "holy" simply means "set apart for some purpose." The word ordo (order, in Latin) designated an established civil body or corporation with a hierarchy, and ordinatio meant legal incorporation into an ordo. In context, therefore, a Holy Order is simply a group with a hierarchy that is set apart for ministry in the Church.

From the Holy Orders entry on Wikipedia.

So, does a seminary ordain (set apart for ministry in the Church) anyone? If you answered yes, you are assigned remedial reading on the nature of seminaries and clergy formation before continuing. If you answered no, you can continue to the next part.

Priesthood is a Holy Order. A Seminary provides an education. An education is a part of formation as clergy. Like the bowl of cereal in the ads surounded by food is a "part of a complete breakfast." What does grant or convey Holy Orders is an Ecclesia (aka. Church).


Ecumenical does literally mean “world-wide” (at least in the sense of the world-wide Roman Empire). Pan and universal can also mean “world-wide,” however its use in English is generally restricted to the religious meaning. It has come to mean movements toward unity, or to indicate that which has such a spirit. It does not imply governance.

Christian ecumenism is the promotion of unity or cooperation between distinct religious groups or denominations of the Christian religion.

From the EcumenicalWikipedia article.
Therefore, Gnostic ecumenism would be the promotion of unity or cooperation between distinct religious groups or denominations of the Gnostic religion. (To keep it simple.)

Those interested in something other than jumping can also avail themselves of the Gnosis Institue Higher Education FAQ.

You are then cleared to read or re-read the article Towards a Gnostic Seminary.

5 comments:

Roger Kuhrt, PhD said...

troy: Your URLs are dead links--perhaps you are working on them.

I would encourage you NOT to use the term Ecumenism re: any Gnostic collective or effort. I would prefer something along the lines of Integral Gnosticism--as yet to be defined.

Cheerfully, RK

Rev. Troy said...

Thanks, I fixed the links.

When a term like 'seminary' has to be defined to be used, I'm not sure if I want to either continue to use terms and teach folks what they mean or just make up some new ones, like 'Integral Ministry Preparation and Support Center.' ;)

But I think I'll stick with terms that people can at least theoretically be familiar with, or look up, for now. Even if I have to educate them.

We are not speaking of ultimate names here, I'm just trying to broach the subject. And doing that is going to require a few articles to cover the basics before I can try that.

Roger Kuhrt, PhD said...

My concern is that Ecumenism is significantly a failure as a movement. Thus I would not hitch my wagon to that star so to speak.

Cheerfully, ROK

Jordan Stratford+ said...

I don't think these things need to be defined (much less redefined); but as the seminary process in place is inextricable with the current formation/ordination process, what needs clarification is how you propose to go about disentangling these two (admittedly distinct) ideas.

For example, in our STL program, the Formationer has to research and write papers on history, logic, theology, etc. The presentation of these materials IN CONTEXT of the almost daily exchange with administering clergy gives the Church a broad base of interaction against which to evaluate the "promise" of the student.

I wonder how we would replace that experience, were the instruction delegated to a third party. Not saying we wouldn't, I'm just wondering what that would look like.

Rev. Troy said...

Oy! I've been having connectivity trouble.

Roger, Gotcha. Not only has ecumenism largely been a failure, it is inherently limited. However, I think Gnostics have more of an advantage in that area. Plus I don't see it as ecumenism per se, but as being a larger community together. Using the term to mean that is isn't focused upon a particular denomination or even one particular form of ministry. Maybe I'll have to break out the Latin and Greek Lexica and see what 'new' word I can rediscover.


Jordan, apparently it was necessary to define these things. But now we are making some progress. (IN CONTEXT even ;)

If someone completes an MDiv degree and enters formation, what would you do? You would do things differently, they wouldn't need an STL, yet they would still undergo formation within the church. There is always a larger formation process and discernment process. And there is no one process-fits-all on that level. These things are not inherently entangled, it has just been done that way largely due to limited resources.

What I am proposing is an educational program, just like the countless ones that exist out there. Right now, if someone wants to study and prepare for ministry or deepen their ministry they have no direct options. If we build something then not only will we come together, we will all grow--and not just as a community.

You are also making so many other assumptions that I don't think I'll address them in a comment, probably due to this STL program. (From what I can tell it is quite different in direction, scope, and focus; being an AJC specific formation program.) But if you could give them a rest, and continue to try to see what is being put forward, I think you'll be pleased.

This is needed, and is a logical step in setting up educational programs in the Gnosis Institute.