An Update from DLI Associate Director Jonathan Roberts
Benefits of Latin for “regular” pastors? Well, what’s an irregular pastor? While I’d argue Latin is beneficial to all pastors, whether those of mega, medium, or minor congregations, there are certain pastors who may never study Latin—the Irregulars. Their ministries are somewhat restricted, perhaps only to the pulpit, with staff and assistants handling many daily administrative tasks that plague the schedules of mule-pastors who carry many ministry stones on their shoulders: bulletins, frequent visitation and counseling, or unclogging toilets forgotten by the few deacons busy that week anyway.
The second generation Wolfgang Musculus’s (1497–1563) Loci Communes in usus S. Theologiae Candidatorum parati (1560) is a fine, early example of a Reformed system produced to aid pastoral students of theology.
What sort of person enrolls in a class in Reformation studies? It is a seemingly easy audience to profile. For those few programs which offer such a course, we expect it would be required for any student pursuing a degree in Christian history or theology; for young Reformed individuals who desire a deeper understanding of their tradition but whose career aspirations lie elsewhere, it might be a suitable elective. In short, it is a comfortably esoteric subject with few adepts, and so it has been for centuries. So why are more students suddenly enrolling in these courses?
Until recently, Latin was a staple of any Western curriculum. From medieval times to America’s founding, no education was considered complete without it. Instruction usually began at a young age; by graduation, students could recite Virgil or Cicero with ease. It was not until the education reforms of the 1960s that it was all but erased from American classrooms, dismissed as irrelevant and elitist. However, in recent decades, there has been a quiet resurgence in classical learning. Recognition for its beauty and usefulness has led to its slow re-introduction into a handful of classrooms. While there is much still to do, organizations (like the Davenant Latin Institute) are breathing new life into these ancient flames.