Perhaps the time has come for us to completely abandon the seminary model. Don't quit reading just because of the radical nature of that comment. Remind yourself the church existed for 1800 years without it. Let us just look for a moment at the fruit of the seminary.
Most Reformed and Presbyterians would agree the high point of the seminary was Old Princeton. It gave us B.B. Warfield, Charles Hodge, Archibald Alexander, and J. Gresham Machen just to name a few. It was faithful for 100 years. And we can be thankful for those great men.
Yet, during this 100 years of faithfulness the Presbyterian Church split multiple times. It had the Old School - New School split. It had the Northern church and Southern Church split as even the Old School guys could not manage to stay together. And the 100 years ended when the Liberals took over and the OPC split occurred. Prior to the creation of Princeton Seminary the denomination split 1 time for a total of 17 years before it reunited. And that split revolved around the proto-seminary of the "Log College" under the Tennent family.
The RCUS had a similar experience splitting for the first time when they created a seminary and required men to go there. What would become Mercersburg Theological Seminary started off an entire generation of warfare in the RCUS ending with liberalism in control.
And let us not forget that these seminaries feuded with each other. Princeton feuded with Union Theological Seminary over Scripture. Princeton and Mercersburg feuded over the Lord's Supper. And we could go on and on.
Today the situation is even worse. Westminster Seminary California feuds with Mid America Reformed Seminary over Two Kingdoms. Reformed Theological Seminary fires a professor for his creation views, and Knox is right there to hire him. Covenant Seminary is in the middle of fights for the PCA putting it occasionally at odds with Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary. Westminster Theological Seminary cut ties with Westminster Seminary California because they are not the same, and Knox cut ties with its western campus, which becomes New Geneva Theological Seminary, because they are not compatible. And these debates/arguments do not stay at seminary, they are brought into the church. If you disagree, go tell a recent MARS graduate you are Two Kingdoms and just see how the conversation goes.
And should I even get started on the "Academic Freedom" issues? This issue comes up any time we get a Norman Shepherd or Peter Enns, and it is brought up because the seminary is modeled after academia where academic freedom is deemed an important thing. The seminary model is the academic graduate school model. You go to class, pass class, and get your higher degree. Professors are encouraged to publish, and need to be a drawing point for the seminary.
The problem with this is of course ministry is not an academic pursuit. I am not saying people should not be educated or smart. By no means! But there are other ways to get an educated ministry. And one is the old mentorship model or even the Oxford model that is mostly reading based. Even a return to the Log College or Swamp College days would be preferred. The academic model has been tried now for 200 years, and it seems to be failing.
The academic model has brought us the "celebrity" pastor culture. It has brought on a multiplication of independent seminaries, which are not the church. The very nature of the independent seminary beast seems to require a quarreling about words in order to draw out a niche group of students so that the seminary can make money, which will also lead those seminaries to give degrees to men who are not gifted nor qualified for ministerial office. Telling a passing student "you are not cut out for this job" is something that probably never happens at seminaries because 1) its the church's job and 2) they need the tuition. Does this cross the line of I Timothy concerning "godliness for gain" and needless "quarreling about words"? It is worth thinking about.
At the very least it is time to stop and give honest assessment to how we are training men for the ministry. The seminary model has serious problems that the church cannot afford to ignore.