There is profound beauty in the pursuit of God. Perhaps, there is nothing more beautiful. Surely, at the core of every being is a spiritual being. Someone or something that is waiting to explode from within. Unfortunately, modernity doesn’t seem to have much use for explosions. We want to know what is coming. We want to be prepared. We think that we can outlast fate. How can one be prepared for God? It seems to me that God is something that happens whether we are prepared or not? So why do we try so hard to manipulate the unmanipulatable? Such attempts are absurd…yet we pursue such absurdity all the time. Our efforts have amounted to nothing…empty buildings filled with empty souls doing empty things. In fact, our institutionalizations of God have been the death of God. Surely the confinement of spirituality is nothing more than an extermination of spirituality. Our belief in such efforts perpetuate the suffocation of our souls. Our acting on such efforts the destruction of our societies. Current forms of theological education are evil. Not because they are always wrong…but because they are always trying to control what is right. Surely theological education can be so much more than constant efforts at resuscitating Gods long dead? There is life in the pursuit of spirituality. We must stop letting institutionalists convince us that we must settle for death. We must make room for unreal explosions of the divine within. We must be filled…so that we might fill others. We must destroy anything that would hold us back. We are free to know God. We are free to be beautiful once more. We are free to create the theological education that we desire…and deserve…movements that can set the world free.
But how? How could a revolution of such magnitude ever come about? Institutionalism is so ingrained in all that we are. We believe that education is a commodity to be bought. We believe that education is supposed to be standardized. We believe that education doesn’t have room for radical practitioners. We believe that education is for bolstering what is normal. We believe lies. But how? How could we’ve been so fooled?
Just like in many other disciplines, theological education often begins with an illusory promise of a job. There is this idea that if you believe and behave then there will be a position waiting for you on the other side. In the meantime, students are left to accrue astronomical amounts of debt. In the process, theological education becomes an exercise in indentured servitude. If the student wants a job, the student is expected to keep their contrary convictions to themselves. In turn, theological education becomes a means of theological confinement…not liberation. So, if theological education is to be beautiful again…it mustn’t be for sale…it must be free.
Most often, purveyors of theological education promote answers…or at least certain arenas of answers. If you want a particular slant, then you choose a particular school. At that school, your theology loses all semblance of individuality. You become an answer…or perhaps even pledge loyalty to a set of answers…and forget all the questions that made you seek theological education in the first place. In the end, current theological education perpetuates a world of haves and have nots. Those who are left on the outside are believed to have little to nothing to offer the theological conversation. How can such things be said of beings that are all ultimately spiritual at their core? Each one of us has so much to add to the theological conversation. We should be encouraged to pursue the questions…and if those questions only lead to more questions…then theological education is working exactly how it should. Spirituality has no limits. Theological education shouldn’t either. So, if theological education is to be beautiful again…it must be intellectually unrestrained.
Theological institutions are notorious for incessantly reproducing the same types of graduates. They are a sort of factory. Graduates just fall off the standardized assembly line at the end of every semester. With regards to doctoral students, their assembly lines are just a little longer. Ultimately…however…they do what all the other graduates do…the same thing. They become professors of theology that offer the same worn-out teachings as all their other colleagues. They can’t help it really. They are just doing what they have been trained to do. If things are to change, the assembly line way of creating professors must be destroyed. There must be new processes developed…that are outside of traditional institutions. So, if theological education wants to be beautiful again, it must start creating professors in the wild.
Let all who have ears to hear…hear. While I’m sure there are countless ways of manifesting a beautiful resurrection of theological education, I can only speak directly to one.
For years, I’d placed the entirety of my body into the fight for justice. I wrote. I spoke. I dreamed. I marched. I bled. I guess I died too. Through it all, I became a theologian…a great liberator of words and worlds. Ultimately, I realized that it wasn’t my six graduate degrees that got me there…it was the freedom to write…to speak…to be exactly who and what God created me to be. I realized that one of the great desires of my heart was to help others find such liberation…such space. It was in those exact hours that I started to gather other theologians. Together, we dreamed about a new tomorrow…a place where theological education was beautiful again.
In the dream world, The New Theology School was born. While certainly not perfect, we offer theological education for free. There should never be a financial barrier to knowledge of God. Furthermore, we believe that students of theology should have the ability to study broadly. So, our students choose their own path of study. Lastly, all our graduates become professors at the school upon graduation. So not only are we doing theology in the wild…we are also creating professors in the wild. We call our degree a Doctorate of New Theology (NThD). Already, we have seen dozens of students come to study with us from throughout the world (including Buddhists, Muslims, Catholics and more)…and I have no doubt that we will see dozens and dozens more. The reason that we can be so confident is because we know that we are the vanguard of a new wilder form of theological education…a much more beautiful one. The resurrection of theological education is upon us.
Come and see… www.thenewtheologyschool.com
interested thinkers can email us at : firstname.lastname@example.org
The Rev. Dr. Jeff Hood, Dean