A long time ago I “started” one of the likely millions of neglected blog series in which I was hoping to address theological education: It’s needs, it’s shortcomings, it’s potential and future(s). Being inspired by several posts of late I wanted to take this series up again. The possibility of re-configuring theological education is something that I take rather seriously and am passionate enough about to consider strongly participating in in my future.
A quick review:
- In one post I said that so-called “ecumenical” seminaries are overrated. If your priesthood is concerned with apostolic succession and sacramentology then it makes no sense to take the majority of your education in a Baptist school, though for “us” the “Anglican Year” is a brilliant stroke that lessens the ambiguity of ‘ecumenical’ schooling. School for your denomination and theology is what I say.
- In another, in answer to the musings (I and II) of Pastor Carol Merritt I replied that, No, we cannot afford educated clergy, but neither can we afford uneducated clergy; so we’ve got to find a way to do both.
Having laid a framework with these two statements I would like to build on it. Having said what I think about “ecumenical” seminaries, from this point forward I speak as an Episcopalian to Episcopalians but I would hope that what I write would not be relegated relevant to Episcopalians only. In fact I think that much of it could be highly relevant for most fellowships as most are facing financial setbacks and serious issues of a lack of Christian identity.
There is a place, a VERY important place, for “research” institutions in the Church, but I’m not convinced that every seminary should be such an institution, or at the very least, we should not be expecting all or even most of our seminary professors to be on the forefront of modern academic theology; writing articles for “Modern Theology” and composing exhaustive tomes of critical work. It seems to me that there is a near anti-christian pace of academic-theological anxiety: “Publish, Publish, Publish!”
For most seminaries, the training of priests should be the single most important task to which everything else is secondary.
I would greatly appreciate any and all input especially for those who have been through seminary, are in it now, are teaching for one or who are soon to attend.