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Formal secular education in ministerial duties

Publishing Date : 14 November, 2017

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We have noted the influence of formal education to religious figures and we proceed with that discussion today. This was also the case with Paul of Tarsus, as testified by Festus (Acts 26:24).

The  man  was a Pharisee ,schooled by Gamaliel ,the great Pharisaic rabbi(Acts 22:3).So well read was he that he knew the legal implications of his conduct .For example ,he could assert his rights as a Roman citizen whenever occasion demanded and could even invoke an appeal(Acts 26:32) and review whenever there was a miscarriage of  substantive and procedural justice .He was also well versed with the various modes of acquiring Roman Citizenship(Acts 22:25-29).

Educated as he was, his presentation of facts reflected thorough research, organizational skills (coherence and cohesion), word power, sound argumentative stamina and a highly analytical approach. So armed was he to the teeth with a wide range of oratorical stylistic devices that his message was irresistible.   He could write  and speak so forcefully and convincingly  that he almost won the heart of  Agrippa (Acts 26:28) and became a spiritual father to many Churches as in Corinth ,Romans ,Thessalonians and Galatians.

In fact he knew what to say ,when and how! And deliberately varied his message to produce an intended effect (compare Acts 22:9 and 26:12-18) As an academic, Paul was well versed with the history of the Jews and exploited it to his advantage (Acts 13:16-41). This ‘shrewd’ man had a way of dividing his opponents to his benefit, as evidenced by his dealings with the Pharisees and Sadducees in the Sanhedrin (Acts 23:6-10). It is this Paul who, through his organized conduct, the term ‘disciples’ graduated to ‘Christians’ at Antioch in Syria (Acts 11:26). From his learning he could easily dovetail religion with science and common sense. He could, as a result, easily teach people on such worldly matters as marriage and lawsuits.

Also ,he was flexible enough to know how to deal with Christian and Non Christian people ,New Converts and Old ones(1 Cor 8:1-13). No doubt, such greats are needed to deal with the hardened skeptics and convinced atheists who are indeed a tough lot to influence! Like Christ, he knew areas needing faith as opposed to those which could only be addressed through a scientific approach. Can you imagine how the illiterate fisherman, Peter, would have fared in a Civilized  society like Rome ,and  Greece ,for that matter ,where he would have constantly rubbed shoulders with the  Stoic and Epicurean Philosophers ,for example?(Acts 17:18-22). And the educated Paul could easily invoke deducto-inductive reasoning.

The original uneducated 12 Apostles were handy to an unsophisticated mind found in Galilee and other similar rustic societies. It was  therefore by design that Jesus Himself chose Paul of Tarsus by force, just like God did to Moses(Exodus 3:1-14). It is therefore easy to understand why Paul, who rose to stardom later on in the Ministry, did outshine the ‘rock ‘and original apostle Peter. It is also easy to understand why his disciples at Corinth constituted a faction that pitted against those of Christ, Peter and Apollos (1 Corinthians 1:10-31).

Above all, the writing art, acquired from formal education, is vital since it permanently preserves information for the benefit of future generations and that information can also find its way to areas whichwhere the apostles never set foot. It is precisely for this reason (LACK OF WRITING) that African oral religion and culture, alike, could not withstand the test of time. Another advantage of writings by oneself is that having a secretary risks having one’s message distorted due to the promiscuous nature of language and the writer‘s interests.

Against that background, it is easy to understand the reason why Alexander, the Medo-Persian, who was given the epithet, The Great, and who was tutored by Aristotle, one of the Greatest Philosophers of all time, is regarded one of the greatest political and military strategists of all time. It is also for the same reason that Luke, the learned Greek medical ‘woman’, is considered a prolific and or distinguished writer.  Yes, to a smaller extent, if we are to be evaluative, raw talent and divine calling also contribute to one‘s ability but formal education largely makes one complete. The concluding remark, after having said this, is that formal education can make one the best preacher or leader in any given field.



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