Category : Seminary / Theological Education

(The Coast) Atlantic School of Theology: Being Ready to Accept the Call

Typically to be accepted into the Master of Divinity program at the Atlantic School of Theology, you must have an undergraduate degree; Dawn-Lea Greer was accepted with an equivalency.

She worked with the AST faculty to submit a 300+ page portfolio of all of her work, courses she has taken and extensive volunteer experiences to be accepted into the program.

“I thought that I couldn’t make this program happen without an undergrad. With the encouragement from Rev. Susan MacAlpine-Gillis and Rev. David MacLachlan working with me to develop the portfolio, and to argue that I have an equivalency, made all the difference,” Dawn-Lea says. “Taking the time to comb through my achievements was validating, and when I was accepted, I rejoiced. Not all of us walk the same path, and that does not make one less or more of a candidate at AST. AST embraces students from all walks of life and many faiths.”

Dawn-Lea is now in her first year of the three-year full-time program, where she is also required to complete three years of formation (denominational formation), chapel and placement time.

Read it all.

Posted in Anglican Church of Canada, Seminary / Theological Education

(CC) Why Andover Newton requires seminarians to take a course from the Yale School of Management

Bill Goettler, associate dean at YDS, says that a quarter of YDS students indicate an interest in taking courses at the SOM, though only a small fraction of that number follow through. By making it a requirement, Andover Newton is nudging people toward a kind of learning that, on some level, they realize they need.

Perhaps most interesting is the way new theological questions can arise in business classes. Washington shared an example of how this happened in the course Strategic Management of Nonprofit Organizations. “I had to answer questions like whether or not nonprofits were supposed to work to no longer be needed, which led me to ask myself this same question as it relates to denominations and churches.”

As long as the world still needs churches, it needs a learned clergy, and the clergy need whatever education is called for by the times. Today congregations are calling out for multidimensional leaders, and business education is rounding out an increasingly important dimension of pastoral ministry.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Anthropology, Corporations/Corporate Life, Ecclesiology, Economy, Education, Ethics / Moral Theology, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Seminary / Theological Education, Theology

David Booman–Sabbatical “Greatest Gift Ever Received”

The past 12 weeks of sabbatical have been one of the greatest gifts I have ever received. I am profoundly grateful to the clergy, vestry, and the people of St. Michael’s for blessing me so generously and joyfully. The sabbatical went beyond what I had even hoped and was a summer I will always cherish.

In the months leading up to the sabbatical, my prayer for this time set apart was taken from Psalm 36: that the Booman family would be able to feast on the Lord’s abundance, drink from His delights, and see the light of His glory—all while sheltered under the shadow of His wings. Little did I know how critical the last clause of that prayer would prove to be…

Read it all (page 3).

Posted in * South Carolina, Children, Marriage & Family, Parish Ministry, Seminary / Theological Education, Spirituality/Prayer

(CEN) Historic Anglican theological college, St John’s, Nottingham, is set to close in 2020

One of the leading theological colleges, St John’s, Nottingham, is to close. In a statement this week the College said that at a meeting of their Council on 11 November, future options were ‘prayerfully considered’ and it was agreed that the operation of the current configuration of St John’s is no longer financially viable.

The process of closure is to begin immediately, although several ‘significant’ aspects of their ministry will continue through partner institutions. Established as the London College of Divinity in 1863, it was during the term of Michael Green as Principal that it moved to Nottingham in 1970. The name was also legally changed to St John’s with the move.

From its move to Bramcote, Nottingham, the College developed and diversified its ministry under the successive leadership of Michael Green, Robin Nixon, Colin Buchanan, Anthony Thiselton, John Goldingay, Christina Baxter and David Hilborn as Principals.

With the closure imminent, the Midlands Institute for Children Youth and Mission announced recently that it will move to Leicester and merge with iCYM to continue its work. The specialist Library resources (which amounts to around 10,000 books) will also be gifted to iCYM in Leicester.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), Seminary / Theological Education

(AI) Trinity School for Ministry expands campus, purchases local church

In the small town of Ambridge, PA, a renewal is taking place. Storefronts are being updated, old buildings are being refurbished to house new tenants, and new sidewalks have been poured. Trinity School for Ministry has a desire to support this renewal in a way that is helpful to the town and also helps to build community. To that end, Trinity School for Ministry is thrilled to announce that we have just purchased the Presbyterian Church of Ambridge, located just a few blocks from Trinity’s campus. “When the pastor from the church approached me to inquire whether we would be interested in buying the church, I knew that I had to explore this option,” stated the Very Rev. Dr. Henry L. Thompson, III (Laurie), Dean and President of Trinity School for Ministry. “We knew we needed a larger chapel/meeting space and we had been praying that God would help us to discern whether or not to build a brand new building,” Thompson added. “We received our answer— not surprisingly, this existing church met every one of my criteria that I had identified for a new building. God has given us such a tremendous gift.”

Opened in 1976, Trinity has a long history of working with the Ambridge and surrounding communities. Of interest is the fact that Trinity’s current chapel was a Presbyterian church, and when Trinity purchased it, half of the congregation began attending down the street at the church that was just purchased. “We feel like God has taken us full circle,” said Thompson, “and once again we are able to put new life into an older building.”

The recently purchased building will allow Trinity to move forward into the future as its residential student population continues to grow and its partnerships reach even further globally.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Housing/Real Estate Market, Seminary / Theological Education, Stewardship

Regent College, Vancouver, Receives $3.5 Million For Endowed Chair In Marketplace Theology And Leadership

Regent College is very pleased to announce the creation of the R. Paul Stevens Chair in Marketplace Theology and Leadership. The Chair’s $3.5 million endowment, the gift of Dr. Margaret Wai Kay Wong of Hong Kong, is the largest gift in Regent’s history.

Dr. Jeff Greenman, President of Regent College, expressed the College’s gratitude and delight:

“We at Regent are deeply grateful to Dr. Margaret Wong for her generous support of Regent’s mission by investing in the College’s commitment to marketplace theology and leadership. A fully endowed chair simply is a marvelous gift to us. It provides a strong and enduring institutional platform for a faculty member’s research, teaching, writing, and mentoring in a strategic area of Regent’s ministry.”

“Throughout our entire history, Regent has sought to equip men and women with a deep, integrated faith that is lived out in a variety of marketplaces and in their leadership roles. This gift advances that distinctive pursuit and ensures the vitality of Regent’s contribution to the church in this important area.”

Dr. Wong, a Canadian citizen, lives and works in Hong Kong. She completed her doctorate in Physics at MIT before moving to Hong Kong to oversee management of her late father’s property developments, including new town residential communities in the New Territories.

Read it all.

Posted in Canada, Seminary / Theological Education

(Christian Reflection: A Series in Faith and Ethics) Don Collett–Overcoming Historicism’s Dividing Wall of Hostility: The Theological Interpretation of Scripture

Christian Smith notes the influence of bad philosophies of language and science upon biblicists, the latter of which are typically imbibed without much, if any, critical reflection. Paradigm-protecting approaches to organizing the diversity of Scripture also generate canons within the canon, while the influence of modernism’s mathematical and scientific rationalism upon biblicists leads them to effectively regard the Bible as a set of algebraic equations, thereby confusing mathematical and scientific ideas of precision with accuracy and truth. Sophisticated views of the philosophy of language and science are either unknown in popular forms of biblicism, or if known, exploited for purely negative and apologetic purposes, thereby precluding their constructive appropriation on any level.

Among the more interesting answers that Smith gives to this question are found in his third chapter, which is largely rooted in sociological observations. As it turns out, biblicists don’t get out much. They talk among themselves within socially and ecclesially constructed rooms of their own making and vintage, never bothering to open up windows to let in fresh air from the outside. When one adds to this the sociological observation that the need to reinforce one’s own identity is often tied to the need to differentiate oneself from others, this isolation is compounded even further (62-63). In short, because difference is essential to identity, biblicists may be subconsciously resisting “the idea of the biblical differences among them actually being settled” (63). Smith’s discussion of “homophily”, which he defines as natural attraction to those who think in the same terms we do, also helps to explain, at least in part, why biblicism is so resistant to change. Evangelical biblicists regularly underestimate the influence of social networks and social location upon how people process Scripture (64-65; 195-196). Because of this, they fall into the trap of believing that if they can just get people all believing the right things, everything else would take care of itself. While one can go too far with this and foster a sort of social determinism that ignores the Bible’s ability, through the Spirit, to overturn and counter the influence of what Smith (following Peter Berger) calls ‘plausibility structures’, in this reviewer’s opinion, Smith is right to point out that most biblicists regularly underestimate the impact their social context and location has upon how they hear Scripture. Many biblicists are Cartesians who view people as disembodied selves, or if you prefer, ideas with feet.

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Posted in Books, Seminary / Theological Education, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(WSJ) Elisabeth Braw–The Stasi Spies in Seminary

East Germany’s Communist government opened the Berlin Wall and thus the country 30 years ago Saturday. Geopolitics and economics drove this outcome, but East Germany’s religious communities played a complicated, significant and far too often overlooked role.

The Stasi, East Germany’s secret police agency, understood that the country’s congregations presented a major threat to the existing order. Lutherans were East Germany’s largest denomination, and many actively opposed the regime. Undermining them became a thorny task for a ruling class that disdained the brutality of the Soviet Union and its other satellites.

By 1954 the Stasi had built a Soviet-inspired agency to monitor churches, later named Department XX/4. It gradually perfected the art of subversion. The group’s officers came from the proletariat, as most top officials did. The Stasi recruited farmhands and factory workers and sent them to the Potsdam College of Jurisprudence, its officer training school.

To weaken faith communities, the department cultivated believers, including pastors, as spies….

Read it all.

Posted in Church History, Ethics / Moral Theology, Germany, History, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Seminary / Theological Education

(NPR) With Plans To Pay Slavery Reparations, Two Seminaries Prompt A Broader Debate

Among elite U.S. universities, Harvard, Yale, Brown, and Georgetown have all admitted in recent years that at one time they benefited financially from the slave trade. But two Protestant seminaries have now gone a step further, saying that in recognition of their own connections to racism they have a Christian duty to pay reparations.

Virginia Theological Seminary in Alexandria, Va., the flagship institution of the U.S. Episcopal Church, announced in September that it has set aside $1.7 million for a reparations fund, given that enslaved persons once worked on its campus and that the school participated in racial segregation even after slavery ended.

Earlier this month, Princeton Theological Seminary in Princeton, N.J., followed suit with an announcement of a $27 million endowed fund for reparations, from which $1.1 million would be dispersed annually.

“As a theology school, we use the language of confession to acknowledge our complicity with slavery,” says M. Craig Barnes, the Princeton seminary president. In its announcement, the seminary said a historical audit, while showing that the school never itself owned slaves, nonetheless made clear that it “benefited from the slave economy, both through investments in Southern banks … and from donors who profited from slavery.”

Read it all.

Posted in Church History, Ethics / Moral Theology, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture, Seminary / Theological Education, Stewardship

(CT) David Taylor–A word of encouragement for recent theology graduates

The upshot of all of this? Be like God and name the people of God not just faithfully and graciously but also in care-filled and responsible ways.

Remind them also of their baptismal name. Which is what? It is the same name, I suggest to you, that the Father gives to Jesus at his own baptism: beloved. In all three accounts of Jesus’ baptism in Matthew, Mark, and Luke, the Father’s voice from heaven is heard audibly. And all three accounts include the same basic statement: You are my Son, the Beloved, with whom I well pleased.

Think for a moment how astonishing this is. The Father presumably could have made his voice heard countless times throughout Jesus’ ministry. But he speaks out loud only three times, and two out of the three times—including at Jesus’ transfiguration—the eternal, infinite, supreme God repeats himself.

The Father knows all the words in the world. He knows all the words that could be and yet shall be, world without end, and he could have said a million things about the Son. But instead, he says one thing: You are my Son, the beloved.

Read it all.

Posted in Seminary / Theological Education, Theology

Michael Sadgrove–Walking on Water: an ordination retreat address

On your ordination day last year I asked you about your hopes and aspirations and expectations as you approached this great moment in your lives. “You wouldn’t be human if somewhere within, you didn’t tremble at this threshold” I said, recalling my own ordination more than forty years ago. Now that I look back, it felt a bit like the disciples going down to the sea, getting into a boat and setting off on their voyage. Even if the lake wasn’t rough to begin with, it was now, John points out, “dark”. Ahead of them an adventure beckoned. But there was so much that was unknown to them, so much that they couldn’t know. There is risk involved in launching out on to the deep at night, as they will tell you when you visit Galilee and learn about the storms and squalls that suddenly sweep down from Mount Hermon and churn up the water treacherously.

But I think the key question concerns what is going on inside us. Van Gogh said that the human heart is “very much like the sea; it has its storms, it has its tides, and in its depths it has its pearls too”. This is a metaphor they may not recognise in poor landlocked dioceses. But we here in Newcastle know the North Sea and its fickleness, the calm still days where barely a ripple laps the pristine white beaches of Northumberland, and the storms out of the north east that crash against the basalt rocks and lighthouses and breakwaters so violently that you wonder they are still standing. We know our own selves too. On the night before Thomas Merton was ordained priest in 1949, he confided to his journal The Sign of Jonas. “My life is a great mess and tangle of half-conscious subterfuges to evade grace and duty. I have done all things badly. I have thrown away great opportunities. My infidelity to Christ, instead of making me sick with despair, drives me to throw myself all the more blindly into the arms of His mercy.” He knew about treading water at seventy thousand fathoms.

Which is, not literally but metaphorically what the disciples experienced on Gennesaret that night. “The sea became rough because a strong wind was blowing.” They had rowed three or four miles, says John, which can only mean that they were in the middle of the lake, out of sight of the shoreline. At the height of the tempest, they see Jesus coming to them, drawing near to the boat. “And they were terrified” says the text. You’d have thought they would already be frightened for their lives because of the storm. Yet it’s the apparition of Jesus that terrifies: that’s clear from the words Jesus speaks. “It is I; do not be afraid”.

Read it all.

Posted in Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Seminary / Theological Education, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(CC) Craig Barnes–Everyone in ministry gets their feelings hurt

After that he took a stab at the administration for not being very responsive to his problem. I indicated that I was at least the third administrator who had seen him in two days. Finally, he slumped his shoulders and said, “This really hurts my feelings.”

That was his final appeal for me to allow him to graduate. It would hurt his feelings if we upheld the requirements for his degree.

The vast majority of our students would never come to me with such an appeal. They are very conscientious about fulfilling the expectations of their rigorous academic programs. But this was a rare student who wasn’t paying attention. The subtext of his appeal was that I should now do anything I could to avoid hurting his feelings, as if this were one of the standards of leadership.

I was a parish pastor for a long time before I became a seminary president, and through most of those days I was wading through hurt feelings, including my own. So I responded to the student by saying, “You do realize that your feelings are going to get hurt all of the time when you become a pastor, don’t you?” He just picked up his backpack and walked out of my office….

Read it all.

Posted in Health & Medicine, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Seminary / Theological Education

(Tablet) Ashley Beck–Theology battles the nonsense of today

Those of us who teach or research in theology and related disciplines have a responsibility to try and support the whole Church – laypeople, clergy and bishops. Theological reflection about the world in which we live is constantly being deepened, and this can and should strengthen the faith of the People of God. The consequences of lacking theological literacy are serious. “The majority of those raised as Catholics find their way out of the Church, in part, I suspect, because the version of Christian faith to which they have been exposed has been so poorly articulated that it is not worth taking seriously at all,” the theologian John McDade has pointed out. “Good theology is necessary for the life of faith and the spread of the Gospel.”

Good theology is not always sought. In many places catechetical programmes are promoted that are intended to be “simple”, sometimes a shorthand for skirting around critical reflection. Some courses are offered because they are cheaper than those that are properly accredited; many programmes are imported. And there is a worrying decline in religious studies programmes in Catholic secondary schools. This has serious consequences for our future ability to provide RE teachers, and even more serious consequences for university departments. The new report from the British Academy alarmingly reveals that there were 6,500 fewer students on theology and religious studies degree courses in the UK in 2017/18 than there had been in 2011/12. In recent years, we have seen the closure of Heythrop College and the Franciscan Study Centre in Canterbury, and the possible closure of theology departments elsewhere, including in Catholic institutions.

If you’re a theologian, falling student numbers gives rise to anxieties about redundancy. And for a Catholic theologian there can be the added feeling that what you do is not really valued by the Church, either because some people think academic theology is highbrow or irrelevant, or because others don’t like your views and think you’re a heretic. If you feel under threat, it is hard to feel confident about offering yourself to the Church as a resource.

Read it all.

Posted in England / UK, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Seminary / Theological Education

(CC) C. Kirk Hadaway and Penny Long Marler–What pastors get paid, and when it’s not enough

In recent months, schoolteachers in various parts of the country have gone on strike, protesting (among other things) their low salaries. In 2017, the average elementary and middle school teacher in the United States made $60,900 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. For many clergypersons, that figure looks pretty good since the average clergy salary is $50,800. But unlike most teachers, clergy are not in a position to strike for higher wages.

Salaries of teachers and clergy range above and below these means, of course; but regardless of re­gional variations or demographic contexts, teacher salaries tend to be higher than clergy salaries.

Salaries of teachers and clergy range above and below these means, of course; but regardless of re­gional variations or demographic contexts, teacher salaries tend to be higher than clergy salaries.

Calls for higher wages are voiced not only by teachers in poorer states but also by those in places where teacher incomes are well above the national average. In some high-priced urban settings and coastal states, the relatively low salary of teachers makes it difficult for schools to attract teachers. For clergy too, whatever the setting, their relatively low salary is often an issue of economic survival.

Read it all.

Posted in Ethics / Moral Theology, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Seminary / Theological Education, Stewardship

(F+L) Matt Croasmun: It’s time to ask more from theologians

What are we here for? What makes this life worth living? The questions of meaning are pressing in a contested, divided world, but it’s rare to see theologians make the connection to how their work helps people answer them.

To begin to recover the connection between theologians and these life questions, scholar-pastor Matt Croasmun and theologian Miroslav Volf co-wrote a book — or a manifesto, as they have described it — issuing a clarion call to theology to think bigger about its own role in the world.

“Theology should make a difference, because God cares about the world,” Croasmun said. “We say in the book that God does not need theology. If anyone needs theology, we do — that is, we human beings.”

Theology is a uniquely qualified discipline, Croasmun argues, to convene the conversation about meaning with other religious and philosophical traditions. Theology can help us define questions of meaning and talk about firm answers that are not just a matter of personal preference.

Croasmun is an associate research scholar at Yale University and directs the Life Worth Living Program at the Yale Center for Faith and Culture. His research focuses primarily on the Pauline Epistles, and his first book, “The Emergence of Sin: The Cosmic Tyrant in Romans,” was published in 2017.

Croasmun spoke with Faith & Leadership’s Chris Karnadi about what theologians and Christian leaders can learn from his and Volf’s book, “For the Life of the World: Theology That Makes a Difference.”

Read it all.

Posted in Seminary / Theological Education, Theology

(Church Times) ‘Church has forgotten how to tell the Christian story’

The Church has forgotten how to tell the Christian story to the 93 per cent of people who have little or no contact with it, a new report from the Central Council of Readers suggests.

“We desperately need skilled teachers who will live the story, tell the story, and accompany people as they explore the full implications of becoming part of the story,” says Resourcing Sunday to Saturday Faith, a booklet sent to every Anglican Bishop and every Reader in England and Wales this month. “Our argument in this booklet is that Readers are ideally placed to meet this urgent need.”

Setting out the Council’s “renewed vision” for lay ministry, it begins with a diagnosis of the current landscape for evangelism: “a time of great ferment in the Church”, given internal disputes over sexuality, safeguarding failures, and a society where “many are bewildered by the sheer scale of change”. A “fresh perspective” is needed, it suggests.

“The problem is that we have forgotten how to tell our story — or, to put it another way, we have only been telling part of the story,” it argues.

“In part, this is because we simply don’t know the story. The Church has been described as ‘a mile wide and an inch deep’. Many people in our churches simply haven’t reflected on how the story impacts that many different parts of their lives.”

Read it all.

Posted in Adult Education, Church of England (CoE), Ministry of the Laity, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Seminary / Theological Education

For Jackson Kemper’s Feast Day–Gustaf Unonius’ Summary of [some of] his Work

In the course of time almost all the states and territories which at first had constituted a great missionary district under Bishop Kemper’s oversight became separate dioceses which for a time continued under his care but finally selected their own bishops. In this way, after a period of only a few years, Indiana, Missouri, Iowa, and Wisconsin–where, at the time I began my studies at Nashotah, there were only a few scattered churches and mission stations–and finally Minnesota, Nebraska, and Kansas–territories which at that time were hardly known even by name–have now churches and ministers enough to be organized into separate dioceses. In Wisconsin alone there are more than fifty ministers, and an equal number of churches without ministers, belonging to the Episcopal church. All of this, under the grace of God, may be ascribed to the tireless labors if Bishop Kemper and the excellent mission school at Nashotah.

Read it all.

Posted in Church History, Seminary / Theological Education

(Fathom Magazine) A Sermon Under the Pastures An Interview with Nathan Poole

There must be fifty passages like that in the book, which indicates to me that you have a practice going here, this openness and attention, reverence and expectation isn’t the result of merely waking up in a good mood and writing a story. I wonder then, can writing stories function as a practice, like meditation?

NP: Yes, of course. I think it was Paul Auster who said that he is a common everyday neurotic until he is holding a pen. That’s absolutely true. I meet my maker when I’m writing, and my best self.

But in the quote you mentioned earlier, about finding the words “God” and “tree” insufficient, what I was speaking to was a kind of cultural hegemony. It’s a metaphor, for me. I need to explain this, I’m realizing now: There was a moment in my life, when I was out walking my dog, that I suddenly became aware of the fact that I was surrounded by trees, but that all I had to understand them was a singular category, “tree.” As in there’s a tree, and there’s another tree. It made me sad. And yet, in spite of the fact that these life forms were not only sustaining life on our planet, and the most ubiquitous form of life there is, I had no way of differentiating one from the next. It occurred to me that I would like to be able to call them by their names.

In many ways, this is the experience of Christians in the South, where the culture is saturated but not centered, in religion. They are offered one modality of faith, and it flattens the world. It propagates and prosecutes willful blindness, in the same way I once looked out onto a forest and just saw trees, trees, more trees. It’s not that I have a problem with the word “God” but that I wanted the experience of God to not be essentially gnostic, as in, God is in heaven and I need him in order to get there. I wanted to understand all the facets, the various ways God can be experienced, here and now. I wanted what the speaker in Maurice Manning’s Bucolics experiences:

“…I can’t

keep track of you Boss you’re just

too many things at once…”

Please tell me you’ve read that book?

Read it all.

Posted in Books, Energy, Natural Resources, Poetry & Literature, Seminary / Theological Education, Theology

(CT) Bible scholars, theologians, and philosophers used to work together. N.T. Wright believes they need to do so again.

Stop thinking like children.” Paul’s admonition to the Corinthians is even more urgent for us today. Though they should be like little children when it came to evil, he insisted they should be grown-ups when it came to thinking. To that end, Paul constantly tried to teach people not only what to think but how to think. This remains vital. The various disciplines grouped together as “theology” or “divinity” are uniquely positioned to continue this project.

People today often comment about the decline of civil, reasoned conversation in all walks of life. Theology has an opportunity to model a genuinely interdisciplinary conversation of the sort we urgently need, not least because in its very nature it ought to bridge the gap between the academy and the larger world.

The great theologians of the past—such as Augustine, Aquinas, Luther, and Calvin—all tried to bring the Bible, philosophy, and theology into a shared conversation. As each of these fields advances, they need one another all the more….

Read it all.

Posted in Church History, Parish Ministry, Philosophy, Religion & Culture, Seminary / Theological Education, Theology: Scripture

(CC) Ryan Bonfiglio–It’s time to rethink our assumptions about where theological education happens

It’s time to rethink our assumptions about where theological education happens. Though much has changed since the Middle Ages, retrieving the cathedral model of learning has the potential not only to reinvigorate faith formation in congregations but to revitalize seminaries and divinity schools at this critical juncture of their evolution.

I see four benefits in making the church a viable site for seminary-level theological education. First, the cathedral model challenges us to rethink the very purpose of theological education. When we associate theological and biblical training with seminaries, it is hard not to think of theological education as a pathway to a professional degree. The M.Div. and related degrees are seen as the functional equivalent of a master’s of business administration degree or a master’s degree in nursing insofar as they prepare candidates, both in terms of skills and credentialing, to work in a particular profession. Prior to 1563, it would have been more natural to see theological education as an aspect of discipleship, not an act of professional credentialing.

This idea is hinted at in the final chapter of Luke’s Gospel in the story of two travelers meandering toward Emmaus on that first Easter afternoon. When Jesus approaches, they mistake him for a stranger and begin telling him about recent events in Jerusalem involving the crucifixion of a man from Nazareth and the rumor of an empty tomb. Eventually, Jesus interrupts. Then, in what must have been the greatest Sunday school lesson of all time, Jesus “interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures” (Luke 24:27).

What is striking about this story is that instead of directing these two travelers to quit their jobs and enroll in a theology course in another city, Jesus brings the teaching to them….

Read it all.

Posted in Adult Education, Parish Ministry, Seminary / Theological Education

(Salt and Light) Paul Stevens–Theological studies: Not just for Clergy

Dualism is perhaps the most insidious and dangerous heresy of the Christian church today and it is globally widespread.

It has multiple sources. Dualism comes from transferring Old Testament concepts of leadership and ministry into the radical new world of New Testament life and work.

There is radical continuity between the Old Testament and New in peoplehood, in God’s grace and mercy, and in God’s purpose for the renewal of everything, but radical discontinuity in certain critical aspects.

For example, under the Old Testament, people had to learn to distinguish between the holy and the ordinary (Leviticus 10:10-11).

But under the New Covenant, in Jesus we are able to present our whole bodily life (working, relating, spending money, etc) to God as a living sacrifice, “which is your spiritual worship” (Romans 12:1-2).

Further, dualism was fed to the infant church by the Greek surrounding culture, which treated the body as an evil shell for the sacred and immortal soul imprisoned in the body.

Biblically, the body is good and the soul is not an immortal organ planted in the evil temporary body, but the soul is the person with longings and hunger for God. We don’t have a soul; we are souls, just as we are bodies.

So, instead of saying that pastoral work is sacred and business (or any other kind of societal work) is secular, that pastoral work is eternal while business work is temporal, we can envision all kinds of work as holy towards God and having eternal consequences.

Read it all.

Posted in Adult Education, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Ministry of the Laity, Parish Ministry, Seminary / Theological Education, Theology

(CT) Remembering Lamin Sanneh, the World’s Leading Expert on Christianity and Islam in Africa

Dana L. Robert, director of the Center for Global Christianity and Mission, Boston University School of Theology:

Professor Lamin Sanneh was a giant in the field of World Christianity. His loss sends a tidal wave across multiple fields, institutions, and continents. He will be sorely missed by those of us who worked with him and called him friend, as well as by people who knew him only from his powerful writings.

As an African, a superb scholar, and a convert from Islam, Lamin Sanneh saw from the outside what those raised on the inside could not. His 1989 book Translating the Message showed how the gospel could become part of every culture, through being translated into the language and worldview of the people. He challenged the assumption that Christianity was merely a tool of western colonizers.

Through his founding of the annual Yale-Edinburgh conferences on mission history, his publications, his editorship of the Oxford University Press World Christianity Series, his leadership of the Dictionary of African Christian Biography, and many other important projects, Lamin Sanneh collaborated with others to transform the study of mission history, African religions, and World Christianity.

Read it all (emphasis mine).

Posted in Africa, Books, Death / Burial / Funerals, Globalization, Islam, Missions, Muslim-Christian relations, Seminary / Theological Education

Yale Divinity School’s obituary for Professor Lamin Sanneh, 1942-2019

Lamin was born on MacCarthy Island in the River Gambia. A descendent of an ancient African royal family, he grew up as a Muslim but converted to Christianity. He was educated and taught on four different continents. He earned graduate degrees from the University of Birmingham, England (M.A.), and the University of London (Ph.D.). He received honorary doctorates from the University of Edinburgh and Liverpool Hope University. His major faculty appointments were at the University of Ghana (1975-1978), the University of Aberdeen (1978-1981), Harvard University (1981-1989), and finally Yale (1989-2019). He had a lifetime appointment at Clare Hall, University of Cambridge (1996-2019), and was an Honorary Professional Research Fellow at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London (1997-2019). He also had temporary appointments at the Centre for the Study of Islam and Christianity, Ibadan, Nigeria (1969-1971); Fourah Bay College, the University of Sierra Leone, Freetown (1974-1975); San Francisco Theological Seminary (summer of 1987); and the Library of Congress, where he was the John W. Kluge Chair in the Countries and Cultures of the South (2004-2005). Lamin took a long and circuitous route from The Gambia to Yale University, but he traveled with international distinction.

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Posted in Death / Burial / Funerals, Seminary / Theological Education

Lamen Sanneh RIP

Posted in America/U.S.A., Death / Burial / Funerals, Religion & Culture, Seminary / Theological Education

(Local Paper Front Page) College requirement prepares many SC preachers for ministry but serves as barrier to some

The Rev. Rosa Young Singleton didn’t have college, but she had a calling.

Singleton started as a youth minister at a nondenominational church in 2000. But when she went back home to Georgetown’s St. Luke African Methodist Episcopal Church in 2013, she was told that she would need a bachelor’s degree if she wanted to pursue a pastoral ministry.

Raising two children and working, Singleton enrolled at Allen University and commuted from the Lowcountry to Columbia for classes every week.

“I got weary,” she said. “I was like ’Lord, do I really need to go through all of this to preach your gospel?‴⁣

There are many in the faith community who contemplate whether a church has the authority to restrict a person from pursuing God’s calling based on their level of education.

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Posted in * South Carolina, Education, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Seminary / Theological Education

(UMNS) Advice to Christians: Learn a little Hebrew

If seminary students and others want to dive into studying Hebrew, that’s wonderful, says the Rev. Matthew Richard Schlimm.

But he believes that just getting into the wading pool with that language leads to deeper understanding of the Old Testament.

Schlimm, a United Methodist elder and professor of Old Testament at the University of Dubuque Theological Seminary, is the author of the new book “70 Hebrew Words Every Christian Should Know.”

Even understanding that fraction of the Old Testament’s original language can make a big difference, Schlimm maintains. In his book, he sweetens the deal by providing lots of historical and cultural background, as well as theological commentary.

“My hope is that I’m giving students of the Bible a new tool so that they spot new things in the biblical texts,” Schlimm, 41, said by phone from Iowa. “Being able to access the depth that Hebrew brings is a huge gift.”

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Posted in Adult Education, Books, Methodist, Seminary / Theological Education, Theology: Scripture

(Et Cetera) In Memoriam: Remembering Eugene Peterson

We never met, but my life has been touched by Eugene Peterson’s at several points. About eight years ago, I was in a dark night of the soul. My relationship with God feeling dry and lifeless. I did not want to attend church or pray. I could barely read my Bible even once a week. Wandering around a used bookstore with a friend one day, I found a copy of the Psalms in the Message translation for ninety-eight cents. I deliberated, then bought it, took it home, cracked it open and still remember reading the preface. Eugene’s words opened up something new for me as he described people coming into his office wanting to know how to pray. He sent them to the Psalms. “The Psalms in Hebrew are earthy and rough,” he wrote. “They are not genteel. They are not the prayers of nice people, couched in cultured language.” They do not speak King James English, in other words, as beautiful as it is. Reading his translation of these “earthy and rough” prayers made them fresh for me, made me willing to come back to Scripture and find that God had given me language with which to be honest before him. It was an oasis in the spiritual and geographic desert I found myself in at the time.

Directly before coming to Regent, I read A Long Obedience in the Same Direction. I found I encountered someone who was letting Scripture do its work on him as he carefully and lovingly attended to just a section of the Psalms. I also ate up the video with him and Bono discussing the Psalms.

While a student at Regent, I was introduced to a video showing him with the celebrated contemporary poet Christian Wiman. Eugene clearly was not one to fall prey to the dazzle of celebrity. He interacted with these distinguished men with the same care and ease it sounds like he would also offer to his students and congregants. His care for people was palpable in all these tastes I’d gotten of him. His care for language is also evident. He clearly loved poetry. Tell It Slant, As Kingfishers Catch Fire, Reversed Thunder—those are all lifted straight from poems. He wrote it, read it, appreciated it, and brought that care for language into his work as a pastor and translator. I care deeply for words as well and am grateful to benefit from the work of someone whose love for God, for people, and for words coalesced in a beautiful, life-giving way.—Jolene Nolte

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Posted in Death / Burial / Funerals, Evangelicals, Pastoral Theology, Seminary / Theological Education, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Regent College Vancouver BC) Remembering Eugene Peterson

It is with great sadness that the Regent College Community mourns the loss of Eugene H. Peterson, a beloved faculty member, teacher, pastor, and friend. Eugene was the James M. Houston Professor of Spiritual Theology at Regent from 1992 to 1998.

He had received hospice care for the past week and died early this morning at his home near Flathead Lake, Montana. He was 85.

Eugene embodied the conviction that all of Scripture is a conversation, “God does not speak and then walk off. Listening goes on.” Of being a pastor, he went further, “The work of the Christian life is participating with people and the Spirit of God. You can’t live it without the Spirit or without people. A pastor has the task of making sure that people understand that as a possibility––and an attractive one.”

Through his lectures, sermons, and conversations at Regent, Eugene blessed countless students, pastors, and visitors. He taught classes entitled “Soulcraft: Spiritual Formation,” and “Tell it Slant: the Beatitudes.” He frequently preceded his lectures with the class singing St. Patrick’s hymn, “I Bind Unto Myself Today,” beloved for its refrain “Christ be with me, Christ within me, Christ behind me, Christ before me.” More than once Eugene paused, explained to the students that they needed to stop, attend to the words, and sing it again.

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Posted in Death / Burial / Funerals, Evangelicals, Seminary / Theological Education

Eugene Peterson RIP

Posted in Death / Burial / Funerals, Evangelicals, Seminary / Theological Education

New research by Ligonier Ministries and LifeWay Research Shows the Lamentable state of Theological Education in Many Parishes

When it comes to Americans with “evangelical beliefs” [see below for LifeWay Research’s four-part definition], the survey found that a majority say:

  • Most people are basically good (52%)
  • God accepts the worship of all religions (51%)
  • Jesus was the first and greatest being created by God the Father (78%)

“However, all these beliefs are contrary to the historic Christian faith,” stated Ligonier, citing Romans 3:10 on sin, John 14:6 on God, and John 1:1 on Jesus. For example, while an overwhelming 97 percent of evangelicals do believe that “there is one true God in three persons,” 3 out of 4 of them attempt to give Jesus first-place honors even though that belief “has been rejected by the church down through the centuries.”

Ligonier noted:

Strangely, while most evangelicals strongly believe in justification by faith alone, they are confused about the person of Jesus Christ. On one hand, virtually all evangelicals express support for Trinitarian doctrine. Yet at the same time, most agree that Jesus is the first and greatest being created by God, which was a view espoused by the ancient heretic Arius.

Arius was condemned at the Council of Nicaea in 325, and again at the Council of Constantinople in 381. Yet the number of American evangelicals who agree with his view has increased from 2016, when 71 percent agreed and 23 percent disagreed, to today when 78 percent agree and 18 percent disagree.

“These results show the pressing need for Christians to be taught Christology, especially as the outcome has gotten worse since 2016,” stated Ligonier. “There is a general lack of teaching today on the person of Christ, a doctrine for which the early church fought so hard.”

 

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Posted in Adult Education, Parish Ministry, Seminary / Theological Education, Theology