New Feminist Christianity [Book Week]

new feminist christianity

This fall I’m teaching Introduction to Theology at United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities. Over the past decade, I’ve taught about a dozen different courses at half-a-dozen different schools. I’ll say that halfway into the semester, this is one of my favorites. I’ve been loving the task of introducing incoming seminary students to the richness of the theological task.

Having queried existing students at UTS about their experiences, I got the sense that they were well versed on contemporary contextual theologies (feminist, black, liberation, queer), but maybe weren’t so informed about the overall landscape of theology. Mine is a hybrid course — meeting half online and half in-person, with three all-day sessions, separated by a month. That meant that the course naturally divided itself into three parts.

Traditionally, those three parts would have been trinitarian in nature, encompassing what seminary profs like to consider the three volumes of the theological encyclopedia. When I took my three required classes in systematic theology at Fuller Theological Seminary back in the day, they broke down along these very lines: [Read more...]

Another Seminary Hits the Skids, Firing Eight Professors

GTS logo

The crest of General Theological Seminary in New York City.

I’ve been beating the drum that seminaries across the land are in a time of crisis. Here are some examples:

Now at General Theological Seminary in New York City, the flagship school of the Episcopal Church, a situation is happening that some describe as war. Eight professors, in conflict with the dean, walked out of GTS, refusing to teach, attend meetings, or participate in common worship, then they were fired. The professors wrote:

[Read more...]

A Tale of Three Seminaries

Twin Cities seminaries

The Twin Cities boasts three Protestant seminaries (forgive me if I don’t consider John Piper’s unaccredited school a seminary in full standing). They are Luther Seminary, United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities, and Bethel Seminary. And I think that the rising and falling fortunes of these three can tell us something interesting about the landscape of the church in America today. [Disclosure: I teach at United, I am part of a Templeton grant at Luther, and I once made out with a girl in the trees behind Bethel. I have friends who teach at all three.]

Luther Seminary was initially founded in 1917 as the merger of three Norwegian Lutheran seminaries. Another merger with Augsburg Seminary (also Norwegian) happened in 1963, and yet another merger in 1976 with Northwestern Lutheran Theological Seminary (English) led to Luther Northwestern Seminary. In 1994, they simplified the name to Luther Seminary. Luther is the largest of the eight seminaries of the ELCA denomination — with incoming classes of well over 100 — but it has recently fallen on hard times. Due to falling enrollment and financial mismanagement, the president and CFO were let go and many faculty and staff were laid off.

United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities was also formed by a merger. In 1957, the United Church of Christ denomination was formed out of the merger of a couple denoms, and in 1962, UTS was founded as the merger of Yankton School of Theology (German Congregational) and Mission House (German Reformed). In the 1970s and 80s, UTS was at the forefront of liberalism, particularly feminist theology, and was among the first seminaries to enroll openly gay students. But their star faded, and in the last few years, incoming classes were in the low 30s. Today it serves primarily UCC, UMC, and UUA students.

Bethel Seminary was initially founded in Chicago in 1871. In 1914, it was acquired by the Baptist General Conference denomination and moved to Minnesota. Always evangelical in its outlook, Bethel made news in the 1990s when professors John Piper and Greg Boyd squared off, resulting in Boyd’s resignation and Piper’s withdrawal from Bethel and the BGC. In its heyday, Bethel was welcoming over 200 new students every year, but recently they’ve laid off all of their church historians as well as several other faculty members.

Here’s the interesting part:

[Read more...]

Am I Distinguished? (Don’t Answer That)

Yesterday I started teaching two classes at United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities. Never heard of it before? Not surprising. It’s a small, liberal seminary, affiliated with the UCC, the UMC, and the UUA. I taught a class there in 2012, and last summer I was approached about teaching more. And about a title. So they gave me on: Distinguished Lecturer in the Practice of Theology.

That’s a pretty fancy title for an adjunct professor, but it looks good on the back of a book. Plus, I’ve never heard of anyone with that title before. A Google search shows that no one else in the world has this title, so it fulfills my need for uniqueness.

A funny thing about that title is that I rarely lecture. I do with undergrads, but my pedagogy with grad students — heavily influenced by bell hooks — is to ask trangressive questions and catalyze discussion.

The two classes I’m teaching are dissimilar.

[Read more...]


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