Study theology out of Nagaland: DOING IT RIGHT OR WRONG

The scope, ‘out of Nagaland’ here would mean mainland India. At first glance, this write up may seem extraneous and irrelevant in the popular populace. I would plea, linger longer, you won’t regret to know what you will read, it can save a life (spiritual), a whole heap of money, the spiritual degradation of some churches, and a sabotaging deception. This read will serve and succor you if you, a sibling, a relative, a friend, a church member is aspiring to do theology out of Nagaland. I bet you fit into one of them because the statistics of Nagas strolling across each year to do theology is overwhelming, evidently in terms of hundreds if not a thousand.

Doing it Wrong
In 2011, there was this clique of young enthuse wannabe theological students roving on rail from Dimapur to Chennai, Coimbatore, and Bangalore. I could outguess their gust of delight, their exceeding excitement, their pride of progress, and their wild crazy curiosity about the new world they would blend in. Long story short, as I set in train to confab with them, my initial inquisitive query was where they were going to study. No wonder, they had superficial answers, none among them had a calling letter or a confirmed admission from a College or Seminary but they were just going hoping some Seminary will admit them. I bid my byes to them wishing them the best in their venture. But I was saddened as I saddled away from them. You may wonder now, why was I saddened? Stay tuned, the facts below will disheartened you too about such theologians.

• No Seminary worth their salt will admit them, a week before the new Academic year much less the accredited Seminaries.

• On rejection from good Seminaries, they will run hither, thither and yon desperate for any admission because they cannot handle the embarrassment of going back home to their family, church and friends who profited so much pride in them.

• Upon no choice, they run into Seminaries which welcomes them. Mind out your mind! Such Seminaries does the dog and pony show and will not hesitate to play down and dirty.

• Such Seminaries will have them to pay arms and legs to be admitted and to get through with a degree. There is nothing betwixt, between and beyond the student and the professors or Seminary; no discipleship, no devotion, no vision, no missions, whatsoever. Pay and pass, period.

• Their academics apparently would not be up to par. They classes are as irregular as the electricity in Nagaland as there are no proper faculty. For worst, in addition to their irregular classes, there will be ten twenty students attending the class through the year. But lo and behold! On graduation day, the students are multiplied, there will be hundred students graduating for the same degree. The other unknown students just bought the degree. They have three rules in the Seminary and they are; money, money and money. Only money matters.

• If worst comes to worst, such Seminaries have their library, classrooms, chapel, cafeteria, dorms (both boys and girls), quarters for faculty in one single rented building. Crumbing heck!

I ran into many Nagas in such Seminaries. They are not proud of their school. Most of them are embarrassed to even tell they are studying in such Seminaries. I get piqued on the thought that Nagas are in those theological dumps. Such Seminaries fritters their faith away. Their passion, their zeal, their visions are eventually disturb and distort in dribs and drabs finally to dump them deep down in the dumps. Deceptive of all, their parents and church back home pays a king’s ransom thinking their child is studying in the city getting very good education. Alas!

Doing it right
We know Jesus is coming soon, may be very soon, but that doesn’t necessitates or even mean the good Lord wants a person to go hustle and bustle in pursuit of a theological degree without using one’s noodle and to go off half-cocked ending up in a seminary mention above which is not up to snuff. A person decides to do theology and that is not the end of story rather it is the beginning. A good standard accredited Seminary is the need and that is not a hop, skip, and a jump ahead rather it goes miles just to get admitted. Here are some standard procedures and insights to get admitted in a standard Seminary:

• Start hitting the bricks in the streets for information about the city and the Seminaries in and around it.

• Two places that can guide or misguide are; Christian magazines and older theologians or alumnus as in a pastor or leader. Magazines have the best possible picture of the Seminary, which can be and is superficial. Can’t trust them and don’t. The alumnus or leader graduated from a certain seminary in the 1990’s when the Seminary had its glorious days suggests the aspiring ones to the same Seminary. In some case, the problem with that is, Seminaries doesn’t stay the same forever.Some of them did great in the past but are hardly running today.Many Seminaries have worn out, gone are the days when they were the best.

• To be on the safe side, try to get in touch with a theological student who is studying currently in the Seminary or city where you want to study. Get solid up to the minute facts from him/her.

• Be wise as the old owl; Take the trouble to go down to the last details on the Seminary academics. Start with the Professors, library, and campus. You may also want to know about your area of interest/subject. Different schools has different emphasis, you don’t want to be in a Missions emphasized school when you are interested in Biblical Studies even though they still may have Biblical Studies.

• It is vital to glance through the Statement of Faith of the Seminary because at times it may be radically different from the particular denomination you are in. It can affect your study later on.

• Watch out for the Seminaries where they offer all the degrees available in the world. No Seminary can afford that. The clichés applies, “jack of all, master of none.”

• If homework on the above mentioned are done, time to pick and choose to apply.

• Seminaries in India typically take new students in summer (May to June). Note this, the application process starts before that, usually in spring (Jan – March). Visit their websites for the forms and more information.

• One has to go through the process of applying with the application form with multiple reference forms from Pastors and leaders. When that is cleared, an entrance is inducted in the Seminary or in centres around India (depends on the Seminary). Only when a person clears the entrance then is admitted for the program.

• As a side note, it is better and safer to have a Bachelor of Theology or some preliminary study first in Nagaland for context, doctrine and practise and pursue to go out after that.

I have no liking to lampoon any Seminary in my write but I have seen many many many Nagas each year coming for theology, ending in bad Seminaries as mentioned. Education in bad Seminaries is one main cause for bad theologians back home. I am talking about those theologians who have no vision, no burden, no mission, no zeal and no idea about how to do things in the church. They stammer at every prayer and stumbles at every sermon. Had they been trained in a good Seminary? It would be different. They can, actually with the same money and time they spend in that bad Seminary. Their only mistake was they chose the wrong Seminary because they didn’t care to do proper homework beforehand. My only plea here is when anybody aspires to do theology, be wise in choosing the Seminary.

All the aspirant theologians, Blessings!