There’s lots of good stuff being written in the Patheos symposium on seminaries. Most of the good stuff, IMHO, is being written by folks who are not in leadership in seminaries. The posts by seminary leaders are, I think, pretty timid. Here’s some of the latest, best stuff, with some commentary by me:
Brian McLaren says “Seminary Is Not the Problem — The Church Is“:
But too many seminarians step out of seminary and straight into a brick wall. When they arrive in a local congregation, they experience nearly the opposite of their positive seminary experience.
My Take: I think Brian has a point, but I think he’s letting seminaries off the hook too easily. Seminaries have exacerbated this problem. Congregations push around their pastors because too many seminary-trained pastors are not good leaders. The reason that the church is oftentimes a retrograde organization is because leaders are wanting. That’s a seminary problem.
Kyle Roberts writes, “For Men Only? An Open Letter to Women in Seminary“:
Along with the bleak outlook in certain vocational areas of church ministry, women seminary students can regularly experience forms of oppression or derogation, whether striking or subtle, that can add up to a heavy burden. In many evangelical seminaries, this can be compounded by predominantly male faculties, predominantly male textbook authors, and even by male colleagues who question your right to be there. Of course, each experience is different and each seminary is different, but studies suggest that the increasing number of female students in seminary during the last 40 years has not always equated to a hospitable reception and nurturing environment.
My Take: An open comment to women: Don’t go to a seminary that has a single professor who is a “complementarian.” That means, don’t go to Bethel (where Kyle teaches) or to many other evangelical seminaries. If there’s even the possibility that you’ll be taking a class from an instructor who thinks you’re not qualified to get an M.Div. because of what is (or is not) between your legs, then you shouldn’t go there.
And an open comment to men: You shouldn’t go to a seminary like that either.
Tim Dalrymple posts, “More Sex in Seminary: A Response to Tony Jones“:
Tony came to PTS as a well known writer and public speaker on issues relating to youth ministry, as a doctoral student, and lived for two years with his family amongst married students a couple miles from campus at the CRW apartments (where I too lived after I married). Those are very different worlds. He says he talked with students in their dorm rooms, but it’s not the same. Since I was not training to be a pastor, and since I at least participated in the drinking, it was easy for others to confide in me or at least not to feel as though they had to wear a mask. Tony’s “I never knew of unmarried students having sex” is like Ahmadinejad’s “We don’t have gays in Iran.” If you were living promiscuously, would you tell Tony Jones?
My Take: Comparing me to a lunatic dictator is a nice touch.
More responses on other posts as they roll out.