Jesus Would Have Failed Seminary


Dan FosterDan Foster in Backyard Church has written an article about why “Jesus Would Have Failed Seminary“.

It is good that he is aware of that big anomaly. But his idea of why Jesus would not get his degree in Religious Studies may not be totally correct or only partially right.

Seminaries or institutions of theology

Normally a seminary and another school of theology, theological seminary, or divinity school is an educational institution for educating students (sometimes called seminarians) in the nature of the divine and, more broadly, of religious belief, called theology, and the study of so-called sacred or holy writings or scripture, generally to prepare them for ordination to serve as clergy, in academics, or mostly in Christian ministry.

Dan Foster looks at those places of formation as:

The place where aspiring ministers of the Gospel of Jesus Christ go to be trained and equipped for the good work they will do for the Lord. At seminary, budding pastors are taught to handle the word of God with appropriate care and respect and how to administer the highest office in the church faithfully.

All pastors are expected to go to seminary at one point or another.

However, the more I think about it, the more I believe that Jesus would have failed seminary.

He has very, very good reason to think so.

When we look at the present schools, institutions and universities where they offer such training to become a minister, pastor or priest, we see that most attention is given to philosophically oriented discipline of religious speculation and apologetics and that the majority of the subjects are about different writings by human beings instead of spending more time to the writings God Himself provided. When we look at the time spent on the real study of the Word of God, the Bible in comparison with the number of hours spent on the writings of so-called theologians (‘learned people about God’ or ‘Godfathered’) the Bible gets just a minimum of attention against those other writings.

Themes of Theology

The themes of theology include in most colleges not The God, the Elohim Hashem Jehovah, but the Trinity and other godheads or gods, humanity, the world, salvation, and eschatology bringing a doctrine forward referring to Jewish, Christian, and Muslim beliefs about the end of history, the resurrection of the dead, the Last Judgment, the messianic era, and the problem of theodicy (the vindication of God’s justice).

In those institutions also a lot of time is spent on the history of religion, which is not bad, and can give a very good background for the one who is going to pull others to his or her faith. Knowing the faith or beliefs of others is very important to be able to talk and discuss with them.

Human theories and philosophy

Man has created a lot of theories around the human being and its place on earth, the position of the soul and its mortality or immortality and migration, the incarnation of gods and human beings, rebirth, resurrection, and the end of time or time of the end or end times, which all receive a lot of time throughout the years of training to become a minister or preacher of the Word of God.

The concept of theology that is applicable as a science in all religions and that is therefore neutral is difficult to distill and determine. The problem lies in the fact that, whereas theology as a concept had its origins in the tradition of the ancient Greeks, it obtained its content and method only within Christianity.

Pope Gregory XIII, original name Ugo Boncompagni or Ugo Buoncompagni, taught jurisprudence at the University of Bologna in the 16th century. He appointed committees of cardinals to investigate abuses among ecclesiastics and to draft the Index Librorum Prohibitorum (“Index of Forbidden Books”). To carry out the council’s decree ordering the establishment of seminaries, he founded several colleges and seminaries, including the Gregorian University, and delegated their direction to the Jesuits, whom he patronised. These schools trained missionaries for those countries that had established Protestant state religions.

To belong to a faith group or particular Church or Denomination

There starts one of the first reasons why Jesus would not be allowed to such a college of religion because to enter such an institution mostly the applicant has to belong to the faith group of the college. Most often a non-believer or a different believer has no chance to enter the institute for the ‘formation of clergy’.

Foster admits:

All pastors are expected to go to seminary at one point or another.

However, the more I think about it, the more I believe that Jesus would have failed seminary. Actually, I think his enrolment would have been terminated well before he had the opportunity to fail. There’s no doubt in my mind that Jesus would have caused all kinds of grief for his professors with what would have been viewed as insolent behavior. And, imagining that Jesus somehow, miraculously managed to graduate, I can’t image a church ever wanting Jesus as a pastor, anyway.

For Jesus Christ, no church is at the forefront. He is the cornerstone of the Church. But most Christian institutions have elected citizens of their own ranks as leaders of their church.

To accept several gods

However, the biggest stumbling block for Jesus to succeed is that he would have to agree that there are three deities, namely a God the Father, a god the son and a God the Holy Spirit. But that is of course unheard of for Jesus and inadmissible for his heavenly Father, who Jesus sees as the Only True God whom we as humans must worship and honour. Jesus does not expect nor want to be seen as god or God and knows very well that God is much higher than him and that he can not do anything without God who authorised him to speak in God’s Name.

Teachings against Jesus his way of thinking

Too many teachings t those colleges would also go in against his way of thinking and would cause serious debates with his professors.

Actually, the above facts are already the main reason why Jesus would not have a chance to attend a University course in Theology or a theological institute or Bible college. Furthermore, his thinking and behaviour would constantly clash with the reasoning of those different educational institutions of divergent religious groups among whom there is absolutely no unity of thought while they all allegedly base their faith on the Bible.

He hung out with the wrong crowd

Like Foster indicates Jesus was moving around in the wrong types of population.

There’s absolutely no way that a guy who hangs out with prostitutes is not going to be issued a “please explain” from their seminary professors.

he writes

Yes, Jesus was renowned for keeping company with all kinds of disreputables — the gutter trash of the society of his day. He would dine with tax collectors, who were among the most despised people in his culture. He would allow women to speak with him in public — conduct that was culturally unacceptable for Rabbis like Jesus. He even touched lepers. Ewww!

Even today, for several churches, it is unacceptable to stay in certain circles or to stay in contact with certain categories of people.

His posse of personal followers included a religious extremist, a tax collector, and a bunch of blue-collar fishermen — not exactly known for their good standing in the community.

Imagine it, today an aspirant preacher being in contact with extremists and fundamentalists, be it on a religious or political level. Just talking with them or trying to convince them to come to another way of life, would for some still be all right, but going to eat with them and even going in their houses would not be acceptable today.

Foster wonders

If Jesus came today, I wonder who he would hang out with? I wonder who would be in his inner circle? Somehow, I don’t think it would include a white-haired, liver-spotted, bible-clutching preacher wearing a neatly pressed pinstriped suit.

Jesus keeping to the Bible

As mentioned already above, Jesus worshipped one God, the God of Israel, of Whom he believed that This Godhead has given His Won Word for mankind to build up life. Jesus very well knew the Bible and used it all the time to refer to. This would annoy a lot of preachers and theological teachers.

He butchered the Bible

Jesus used to quote scripture all the time. Of course, the only scripture that Jesus had was the Old Testament, and he was more than fond of whipping out a verse here and there.

The only problem is that when it comes to interpreting Scripture, Jesus did everything that lots of seminary students are taught not to do when they got through seminary. According to Foster Jesus took verses out of context, which he did not. Jesus was so clever, he knew very well to place the Biblical texts in context. Foster writes

He was more than happy to put his own twist on time-honored mosaic laws and add a few things here and there. One of his favorite lines was,

“You’ve heard it said… but I say this.”

But that did not mean Jesus would not have agreed with the Biblical (Old Testament) text. He only showed people the danger of their attitude to take certain texts literally and not being able to read between the line, coming to see the essence or true meaning of the saying.

Jesus saying him to be the Messiah

I do agree that when there would come a person to a university or seminary claiming him to be the Messiah, this would be a good reason not to allow him to the courses and even to come to curse him.

Jesus defended his association with sinners using the Old Testament (Mathew 9:13) and even had the gall to claim that the Old Testament prophecy about the coming Messiah was actually referring to Him (Luke 4:18–19). That would surely get you kicked out of seminary!

That Jesus was not married would for sure not at all be a reason to not allow him in the courses. Though for certain protestant groups this would be a problem if we may believe Dan Foster, who writes:

You just can’t walk into a pastoral job of any kind unless you have a trophy wife at your side. Maybe Jesus could have scored a gig as a youth pastor while he was single, but there’s no way he would be promoted to the main stage until he had proven himself to be, err… heterosexual enough and able to be the head of a family.

Yes, even though Jesus was single, the church inadvertently perpetuates the idea that singleness is bad.

On this aspect, Foster seems to have an idea like many ordinary citizens who look at celibacy as something not normal. Though here in continental Europe clerical celibacy seems something common, and in the Catholic churches essential, so the church members are going to ask more questions when they see their priests living with a woman in the same house. So I doubt what Foster writes:

When Christians remain single, we begin to wonder what’s wrong with them as they get older. Are their standards too high? Are they… you know… gay?

It might well be that

Eventually, we pity them, as if they were destined for a miserable life.

Yet, the Apostle Paul comes along in 1 Corinthians 7 and lifts up singleness as a legitimate way to live — calling singleness a gift. However, it’s not enough of a gift to qualify single people for ministry. Seriously, how many single pastors do you know? In the evangelical church, husband and wife are virtually a package deal — with husband at the head, of course!

Jesus had little regard for institutionalized religion and found himself clashing with religious leaders all the time

And that would not be different today. Today it would be even worse than in his day and where he lived. Because in the region where Jesus was preaching the majority kept to his heavenly Father, the Only One True God, whilst today the majority of people have no god at all or worship a different god than Jesus worshipped.

Jesus was more than happy to point out when religious institutions had lost sight of God in favour of performance-based religion and rule-keeping. Very often his discussions with such temple leaders are notated in the New Testament. Jesus was not at all afraid to rebuke them and to give his own opinion. Such an attitude would be considered inappropriate and even arrogant. Present-day teachers also would not appreciate it, Jesus regularly interrupting them or to indicate where they have wrong ideas, in front of other college students, would not be appreciated nor tolerated. They would consider it an affront if Jesus dared to rebuke them in public or point out errors in their interpretation.

When Jesus saw hypocrisy, he called it out and he would not do it differently today. Jesus came to connect people to God and make God known as a God for all people and was scathing on anything and anyone who stood in the way.

All too rightly, Mr Foster thinks

I can only imagine how Jesus might relate to many churches and church leaders today. Let’s just say I don’t think too many preachers would be opening up their pulpits to Jesus.

And since seminary is also a religious institution, I can’t imagine Jesus breezing through a theology degree without making some serious waves for the people in charge.


If someone could deal with biblical texts as fluently as Jesus could, it would shock many theology teachers today and make them shun such a character as Christ and certainly not allow him or her into their institutions, even not as a guest speaker.

But the most disturbing element for most theology courses is that he would bury many doctrines. Because they are totally against the teachings of the Bible and even against God’s commandments..


  1. Church enemy of faith
  2. NWT and what other scholars have to say to its critics
  3. Seminar on Bible Translation in Prague
  4. Hello America and atheists
  5. Strange Fire conference 2013
  6. Inculturation today calling for a different attitude
  7. American fundamentalists win
  8. AJC Global Forum 2022: World at crossroads Democracy versus Tyranny
  9. Festival of Freedom and persecutions
  10. High Holidays not only for Israel
  11. Deliverance and establishement of a theocracy
  12. Southern Baptists tackle sex-abuse
  13. A Jewish Theocracy
  14. Many churches in Ukraine robbed and destroyed by the Russians


Additional reading

  1. To find ways of Godly understanding
  2. From the 18th century museums to the present Jewish Museum in New York city
  3. Old and newer King James Versions and other translations #7 Jewish versions
  4. New York Jewish Museum’s Discomfort with Religion
  5. A Jewish Theocracy (Our World)
  6. Hebrew Language #1: Teaching “Sticky” Hebrew
  7. American Conservative Judaism
  8. The one who breached the wall of the academy
  9. Welcoming Interfaith Families, Maintaining Tradition – Eqev 5781
  10. Donald W. Shriver Jr., who called America to repent of racism, dies
  11. United Congregational Church plans to sell its brick Georgian-Revival style church to the Bridgeport Islamic Cultural Center
  12. Wagner the NAR and new wineskins
  13. What is the Shepherding/Discipleship Movement (SDM)?
  14. Isolated students and internet learning
  15. Our brothers in Kyiv’s northwest suburb Irpin



  1. Christian bible institute amp seminary doctorate degree programs
  2. Doctor Of Ministry The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
  3. Severe Abnormalities: Fetal and Papal
  4. Alive In Christ
  5. My Seminary Testimony
  6. Are we in academe’s “faith and work moment”?
  7. Survivor Story: Bill Kessenich
  8. A Pastor’s Story: I Left Vegas a Winner
  9. What Bible College doesn’t teach you Part III
  10. Thoughts on faculty change management and innovation
  11. Christian Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
  12. Shepherding Like The Good Shepherd
  13. Where Did That Year Go?
  14. Graduation to Degradation
  15. Prioritizing Celebrity Pastors Over Faithfulness in the Local Church
  16. What competencies should we be training pastors for?
  17. American Pancho
  18. A Mysterious Legacy and a Pink House – Our Story continued, #18
  19. “Goodbye…Hello!” -the missionary mantra -Our Story Continued, #19
  20. Ten Books Pastors Should Read – Part 2
  21. Hong Kong: Christian college requires students to pass government security exam
  22. On a Young Man from Georgia
  23. Faithful Even Unto Death
  24. Scattered Thursday Thoughts
  25. 3 things I wish I knew before starting Seminary
  26. Letters From A Senior Saint To A Junior Saint

Published by Marcus Ampe

Retired dancer, choreographer, choreologist Founder of the Dance impresario office and archive: Danscontact-Dansarchief plus the Association for Bible scholars, the Lifestyle magazines "Stepping Toes" and "From Guestwriters" and creator of the site "Messiah for all". - Gepensioneerd danser, choreograaf, choreoloog. Stichter van Danscontact-Dansarchief plus van de Vereniging voor Bijbelvorsers, de Lifestyle magazines "Stepping Toes" en "From Guestwriters" en maker van de site "Messiah for all".

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