Martin Bucer Seminary: European School of Theology and Research Institutes
“for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; …” (Ephesians 4:12)
1. What Do We Want Martin Bucer Seminary To Be?
“Many German seminaries are becoming increasingly irrelevant to ministry. Either they emphasize ‘practical theology’ at the expense of important subjects like ethics, church history, sects, original languages, etc., or they give academic degrees with little emphasis on character development, and provide little contact with experienced pastors or missionaries. MBS seeks to provide the best of both.” Prof. Dr. Thomas Schirrmacher
Innovative and Flexible
MBS allows students to create a course of study that equips them specifically for their ministry, rather than forcing the student to “fit a system.” It is one of the few theological institutions that recognizes work done at other theological institutions. MBS caters to those who can only study part-time. And we would rather send a seminary to the students than send students to a distant seminary.
Only God’s eternal commandments are inviolable, not our cultures or traditions. To paraphrase Jesus’ comment on the Sabbath, educational institutions and theology are for man, not man for education.
MBS does not see the world as an enemy, but rather as a part of God’s creation that is to be reconciled with Him; therefore, we aim to take every thought captive (II Cor. 10:5) and to test our thinking and actions regarding how they address and transform the surrounding culture.
Multicultural and International
Christianity is not limited by national borders; consequently, MBS is intentionally open to learn from Christians from other cultures. We welcome teachers and students from all over the world to give our students a global perspective on God’s kingdom.
Thomas Schirrmacher, founder of MBS writes, “The MBS goal is that all aspects of theological education are directed towards church planting and world missions. Missions are at the center of the curriculum.”
Our training program is intended to enable our students to fulfill their various personal ministries not only in their own lives, but also in the lives of their congregations and in the global church (2 Tim. 3:17). We consciously judge our program on its relevance for practice. Our instructors have practical experience in ministry and missions. Experience in church and missions is central to our study programs.
Theologically Grounded in the Word of God
Paul’s missions mandate is spelled out in greatest detail in the book of Romans. MBS sees good, thorough biblical doctrine as the motor which drives us to evangelize. Germany is the beachhead for theological liberalism in Europe. The undermining of the authority of Scripture still riddles the church and its seminaries. MBS is one of the few theological schools based in the German speaking countries which holds to the infallibility of the Word of God.
Just as Paul based his missionary activity on the careful and extensive explanation of his gospel in the book of Romans, we want to encourage local and global missions based on thorough, thoughtful, biblical foundations. We will strive for academic excellence without retiring into an intellectual ivory tower or speaking a language incomprehensible to educated lay people. Like Paul, we will attempt to speak the whole counsel of God both to believers and to our cultures.
We are not satisfied with summarizing and repeating old familiar truths, but seek to discover new depths of understanding in various fields of interest and to stimulate our students’ enthusiasm in questioning, study, and research. We encourage them to test and improve on what they have learned rather than merely accepting the opinions of others. We think this research orientation will help students become future leaders.
“Our training program is intended to enable our students to fulfill their various personal ministries in their own lives as well as in their congregations, and in the global church.”
We consciously seek to link theology with other fields of learning, such as medicine, psychology, law, linguistics, politics, literary analysis, and Islamic studies – to mention a few. We always benefit from taking a look at the other side of the fence! Many of our students and instructors seek training in “secular” fields as well in theology, because we see the secular world as a place to serve God!
Since most of our branches are close to state universities, we can easily visit academic lectures or seminars held in other fields and many of our students acquire other academic degrees along with their degree in theology. We do not want to leave any aspect of private or public life untouched by Christian thinking and activity.
2. Educational Principles
You will find our educational philosophy stated in 21 proposals in the article “An Appeal for Alternative Education Models for Church and Mission.” It is available as a download as MBS Text 14.
Here is a short summary:
- Our program is designed to fit the student, rather than insisting that students fit our program. We try to create a flexible program for every student, no matter the circumstances in which he lives or the learning style he prefers.
- We combine high academic training and research with practical experience and discipleship. The skill to research a topic independently and the skill to be a good leader and visionary in church and missions are interdependent.
- It is often better to send a seminary to the students than to send students to a distant seminary.
- Being and working in a local church is part of the training. Many students officially work part-time in their churches and have been asked by their local churches to study with us.
- All teachers have extensive experience as pastors, missionaries, etc., and without exception are still engaged in ministry to varying degrees. Their goal is to communicate an authentic Christian lifestyle, together with passionate theological conviction.
- Students learn to know and understand different theological traditions in their best present form and are encouraged to work toward unity among evangelicals while still holding strong convictions. Debates over theological differences (e.g., baptism, tongues) are not avoided, but are initiated by those lecturing and are viewed as necessary to a well-rounded education.
- We urge students to acquire knowledge from other schools, from specialized organizations (e.g. media, business), and from other believers, churches and schools in the Third World. We encourage trips to and internships in Third World churches.