I knew a young man who came from a rural area who enrolled as a student at the Evangelical Seminary of Southern Africa. He walked into the library on his first day and wished he had never enrolled. When asked why, he said, "If am expected to read all those books I will never succeed." Could it be that an institution of spiritual learning could impede our spiritual formation by its overbearing presence?
Watching the seminarian's at the grandiose opening of the 'Seth Mokhitimi Seminary' in Pietermaritzburg I wondered if they were traumatized or encouraged by the large edifice and monumental speeches.
Speaking from my own experience and no doubt far to Eurocentric. We may loose our personal contribution as we are traumatized by corporate vision. When we think that 'our becoming' demands we look like another product of the seminary we may loose our bearings. If we think we ought to have the capabilities of all that is flaunted as 'expected' we may fade in its shadow. Our seminarian growth ought to flourish as we are joined together by 'Presence' rather than 'Vision". This may seem heretical in today's language but "Presence" for me is the life throbbing dynamo we have with God through Christ, actualized by the fertilizing Spirit of God. When we speak about a 'Seminary' in my eyes we are speaking about a well-kept hothouse where this dynamo is nurtured carefully. It is a place where all different plant DNA types are matured for their God created actualization. There is none alike, each cherished for what it can contribute to the function and beauty of the world. It is not about being a Methodist or a Charismatic, a Church builder or a Pastor, an Artist or an Accountant exclusively. The power of encouragement grows us into the plants we are meant to be – nothing more and nothing less. Spiritual formation is discovering the boundaries. It may even lead us outside the confines of Methodism. I had better stop there.
(Seminary mid-15c., "plot where plants are raised from seeds," from L. seminarium "plant nursery," figuratively, "breeding ground," from seminarius "of seed," from semen (gen. seminis) "seed" (see semen). Meaning "school for training priests" first recorded 1580s; commonly used for any school (especially academies for young ladies) from 1580s to 1930s. Seminarian "seminary student" is attested from 1580s.)