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A free floating commentary on culture, politics, economics, and religion based on a passionate commitment to the truth and a desire graciously to refute that which is contrary to it….
"He must hold firm to the sure word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to confute those who contradict it."
--Titus 1:9, Revised Standard Version
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[A]...bleak view of the future is misdirected. First of all, solid theological education, steeped in the classical disciplines, has a long history; so does low-quality religious education by unaccountable schools offering credentials to the lazy and unqualified. Churches and future ministers know the difference. The technological revolution may empower dumbed-down schools, but no more so than the dubious correspondence programs of the past.
And not all online ministerial education will be suspect—just as first-rate universities like Stanford and Harvard are exploring ways to offer classes online to a wider audience, so too will solid seminaries. Churches and future ministers will know the difference there as well. I suspect that the next generation will find what the seminary I serve has seen: online programs supplementing rather than supplanting the life-on-life classical theological education.
More important, the sorts of questions raised by student debt and ministerial career instability may help reattach ministerial education to its real-world moorings: education with churches in mind, not just theology. In order to train ministers, Protestant communities must abandon the current system in which future pastors discern, almost in isolation, a call from God and then seek out training ad hoc.
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