What Seminary Education Ought To Be [Part Five]

What Seminary Education Ought To Be [Part Five] June 22, 2012

This = class break. (Photo by Courtney Perry)

Finally, this: where one studies should be consonant with what one studies.

Last week, we were studying the doctrine of creation and its relationship to Christian spirituality. It seemed to me downright silly to study the doctrine of creation where I did, in a classroom.

I get that there’s a certain efficiency to gathering hundreds of students on a campus and having a centralized factory of learning. It’s got a bit of Henry Ford to it. And maybe the type of theological education that I’m proposing is eminently impractical — maybe it would be way too expensive.

But it seems to me that with the innovations in technology and transportation of the last hundred years, there are all sorts of possibilities for studying theology, the Bible, church history, and ministry leadership in spots that fit hand-in-glove with the subject matter.

I took a chance in nature, challenging the students to live for four days in the most primitive wilderness in the continental U.S. They bested that challenge easily. That success has only put wind in my sails for

Where would you like to study theology?

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  • Joe

    To everything else in this series I have said “Yes! Yes! Yes!” This one I have some questions about. It’s not that I don’t agree with you—I do. Certainly a traditional classroom setting is a bit stuffy for the subject matter. Theology is perhaps always best studied around a campfire, or in a pub, or at the professor’s breakfast nook in your pjs. And creation is an obvious one, but I just can’t think of many other places that are specifically consummate with different areas of theology. Perhaps I’m just lacking in creativity here. Where do you go to study the doctrine of the Trinity—a dance studio? The doctrine of sin in Las Vegas? I don’t know. Thoughts?

  • Brian P.

    There are some of us that spend a lot of time in nature.

    How would it be way too expensive???

    Backpacking, hiking, camping on public land is ***FREE***.

    What does discipleship need that can’t be bought at REI or otherwise gotten for free?

  • In a mission context, something to do with underprivileged kids for choice. Actually that’s a live option for me … the question is where to look for mentoring?

  • Seminaries are figuring this last one out, albeit pretty slowly. My alma mater, Wesley Theological Seminary in DC, has a great urban ministry track in a new inner city/downtown campus where students live in community and study even as they work in non-profits and churches and so on. It’s a move in the right direction.

    Also, many regional/local ministries are doing lay leadership programs that capture this a little better than seminaries.

  • Luke Allison

    I attend a very small seminary called The Master’s Institute in St Paul. They’re conservative in many ways, but definitely trying to shake things up with their style. There’s a big emphasis on spiritual formation. Small groups, internships, and mentoring are all mandatory.

    There’s a very intimate feel in the classroom, and many lectures become group discussions pretty quickly. It’s been an extremely formative experience for me.

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