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Missions 101

Theological Education: God's Sanctifying Servant to Women

Sep. 20, 2012By: Kristie Burns

As a woman who has been the recipient of theological education, I am thankful for Philemon’s recent post.  Even as I read through his reasons for encouraging women to pursue theological education, I thought of some recent examples of how theological education has made an invaluable impact on my life as a woman.  I have never felt called to be a pastor or professor.  My primary vocation is to be a wife and a mom, and good theological education has been God’s gracious sanctifying servant to me in those roles.   

1.  Substitutionary atonement and a nature walk with my twin toddlers.  On a recent outdoor adventure with my almost 3 year-old sons, we stumbled across a stick with several thorns.  Before my sons could get to the stick, I picked it up and explained that thorns could hurt them.  The thought then came to mind that this was a good teaching moment.  I went on to explain how a crown of thorns was placed on Jesus’ head before he died on the cross for sin and how Christ took the punishment that our sin deserved.  In short, I tried to unpack the doctrine of substitutionary atonement for their little minds.  If they had been a bit older, I would have probably gone on to explain how that precious doctrine is in danger of being tossed aside in our day.  If I had never been the recipient of theological education, I may not have had this opportunity and many more opportunities like this one to teach my sons the monumental importance of a doctrine like substitutionary atonement.

2.  The sufficiency of Scripture and a children’s devotional book.  While talking with a friend in the church, she mentioned that her kids had been using the children’s devotional Jesus Calling by Sarah Young.  I asked if she knew much about the adult version of the devotional.  Since she didn’t, I went on to explain that Sarah Young’s book is filled with recorded conversations as if Jesus were actually talking to her.  The problem with Young’s book is that it questions the very sufficiency of Scripture.  I have met numerous women who, after reading Young’s book, say, “It’s as if Jesus is actually talking to you when you read it!”  And I want to reply, “Isn’t the sufficient, authoritative Word of God in the canon of Scripture enough?!”  (As a side note, if you’d like to better understand how Sarah Young’s book undermines the sufficiency of Scripture, check out this article by Tim Challies).  Back to the example—my friend, who has also been the recipient of good theological education, quickly realized that she wanted her child to have nothing to do with a children’s devotional that undermines the sufficiency of Scripture.  If my friend or I had never received theological education that exposed us to the glory of the sufficiency of Scripture, we would have been ill-equipped to shepherd other women and our children. 

3.  Imputation and battling besetting sin.  As a fallen woman, I consistently find myself at war with the besetting sin of anxiety.  The disastrous results of the unbelief of anxiety would have eaten me alive if not for the doctrine of imputation—that through faith my sin has been counted to Christ and his perfect righteousness has been counted to me.  The very vitality of my spiritual life has been graciously preserved and strengthened through theological education.   

I offer these three examples just for what they are—examples.  Examples of how theological education for women can radically impact the way we raise our children, counsel our friends, and fight the fight of faith.  And as one who has been blessed with the opportunity to receive theological education, I realize that such examples are completely subservient to the authoritative Word of God.  So I look forward to Philemon’s next post regarding Scriptural reasoning for encouraging women to pursue theological education.   

Tags:  theological education, women
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