Monday a prospective student visited with me briefly in my office @nseminary and he expressed his own hopes for churches and for his own calling, which entails teaching theology in a local church — that is, raising the theological level of ordinary Christians. It is a noble hope and vocation, and not one without some challenges.
It so happened that the night before I read about this very challenge in Bonhoeffer (DBW 16.493)[I have reformatted it slightly], and it comes from a set of lecture notes about the church and theology given probably in 1940:
2. For Protestant congregations there are certain prejudices that make it more difficult for the congregation to have a proper relationship to theology.The pietistic: Theology is a matter of the head; what matters is the heart. Thus theology divides, while the piety of the heart unites.
The orthodox: All preaching is instruction, theology, true theology = true faith, the sum total of true propositions.
The academic: Theology is rigorous scholarship, study, university, not for the laity.
The evangelization [volksmissionarisch] circles: People are not mature enough for theological distinctions—first mission, then theology.
The ecclesiastical political: Theology disrupts the political unity of the church. The sectarian. A particular theology is the whole truth of the gospel. / How the views overlap.
What are the challenges to theological education in your church? Have you heard these? Others? Has anything changed?
At Northern Seminary we care about the theological education of lay folks in local churches.