[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.
Read it all.
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Posted August 24, 2012 at 10:00 am
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