June 02, 2016
by Dr. John Neihof
King Solomon waxed eloquent of the Shulamite’s beauty when he proclaimed:
How beautiful are your feet in sandals,
O prince’s daughter!
The curves of your thighs are like jewels,
The work of the hands of a skillful workman…
…Your neck is like an ivory tower,
Your eyes like the pools in Heshbon
By the gate of Bath Rabbim.
Your nose is like the tower of Lebanon
Which looks toward Damascus.
(Song of Solomon 4:1, 4)
While Solomon’s description vividly described the beauty of the object of his affection, the Shulamite, he introduced us to a term that has become embedded in academia. The ivory tower is a descriptive term often attributed to academic pursuits. The term, ivory tower, when applied to academics connotes a certain aloof irrelevance to the real world problems human beings face.
Seminary is often subjected to the pejorative label “ivory tower.” Theology, biblical hermeneutics, philosophy, biblical languages, and theories are dismissed by some as the domain of spiritual nerds who have little or nothing to contribute to the “real world.”
Wesley Biblical Seminary is not an ivory tower of idle talk and irrelevant conversation. Wesley Biblical Seminary is the “real world.” WBS students are active in ministry and professions. They come to WBS with a hunger to study, learn, and apply their learning to the “real world” in which they are engaged.
One recent WBS alumnus looked at me across the table in a Southern eatery in Flowood, Mississippi and said, “Dr. John, I ‘did’ ministry throughout the entire duration of my studies at WBS.” He went on to describe how WBS shaped his mind, his theological understanding, his love for holiness, and his hunger for scripture. But he was always feeding his congregation out of the overflow of his learning.
William Barclay wrote: “… nothing helps us clarify our own opinions like pitting them against someone else’s. Mind sharpens mind as iron sharpens iron. The danger is that religion can so very easily come to be regarded as a matter for argument and debate and discussion, a series of fascinating questions, about which a man may talk for a lifetime–and do nothing. There is all the difference in the world between being an argumentative amateur theologian, willing to talk until the stars go out, and a truly religious person, who has passed from talking about Christ to knowing him” (In The Gospel of John, vol. 1, 1955, pp. 244-245).
WBS. Not an idle ivory tower of words. We don’t just talk theology. We seek to know God, and share Him with others.