There’s a lot of really good stuff on the Patheos symposium, maybe the best stuff that’s ever been collected on this subject, and from a very wide range of perspectives. You’ve got everything from an evangelical saying that seminaries need to doctrinally retrench, to a former evangelical who runs an inter-faith seminary. I don’t think it’s even possible to have a wider range than that.
The robustness of the conversation has, I must admit, surprised me. It seems there are still lots of people who really care about graduate theological education. I think that’s a good thing.
A decade later, many more youth workers are seminary-trained than were at that time. But they all aren’t. And that brings me to my final thought on the future of seminary education: I suspect that as our society becomes increasingly pluralized, more and more Christians will feel the need for serious theological education. But they neither want nor need a degree. They just want more history, more systematic theology, and more practical theology.
Indeed, I run into people like this all the time. And I consider it an enormous failure of the church that seminaries are still primarily, if not exclusively, interested in training professional clergy, and at a very high cost.
This is failure cannot go unaddressed. So Doug Pagitt and I plan to address it with a new venture, launching in 2013.