return to religion-onlineHigher Education
Many Christian colleges have become secularized. Others have made new efforts to reengage their heritage. Roanoke College in Virginia is one.
Theological schools are looking for teachers of the ministry arts who are both practitioners and trained research scholars, but there is presently an extreme shortage. New initiatives in Ph.D. programs in this area are needed.
How is campus ministry changing? Is it still a vital institution? What characterizes today’s student generation? How is campus ministry being received by students? What does the future hold for ministries to college and university communities? These are some of the questions addressed by the five participants in our symposium. The writers represent a variety of religious traditions and styles of campus ministry.
Can an educational philosophy true to the Christian ideals of love, truth and justice -- and one that helps people in their daily lives -- actually work? The author presents eight ideas in helping students face the underlying philosophy of education.
The heart and soul of its Center for the Arts and Religion at Wesley Theological Seminary (United Methodist) in Washington, D.C is founder and director Catherine Kapikian, a practicing visual artist and a 1979 Wesley graduate. Kapikian proposed the idea for an art studio and an artist-in-residence program to the school’s administration. What she desires is for all Christians to share the joy of realizing how an understanding of art can heighten religious perceptions and vice versa.
The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary as a whole has never formulated a plan for relating piety to learning and pastoral care to theology.
Our culture faces a spiritual crisis:. Faculty and students continue to operate in a spiritual climate where even the best are filling merely the outward requirements of their roles and suffering the malaise of aimlessness and false consciousness. The "worst," having no such tender sensibilities of mind or spirit, are zealous to fulfill whatever careerist goals are set for higher education by our technetronic and industrial society.
Mainline church colleges intentionally designate themselves "church-related," seldom using the term "Christian". And members of the flourishing Christian College Coalition have established a number of criteria for the "Christian" label, of which church-relatedness is not one.
The baccalaureate service is an effective way for institutions committed to educational objectives emphasizing human values to focus on that fact. Such rituals also serve to strengthen the sense of community among faculty and students.
(ENTIRE BOOK) For Kelsey, "Athens" (based on the Greek paideia , "culturing," "character formation,") and "Berlin" (based on the German Wissenschaft, "orderly," "disciplined critical research," "professional") represent two very different -- and ultimately irreconcilable -- models of excellent education. It is the case de facto, says Kelsey, that modern North American theological education, for historical reasons, is committed to both models, resulting in ongoing tensions and struggles. Kelsey shows how a variety of significant thinkers -- Newman, Niebuhr, Farley, Stackhouse, and several others -- fit in the Athens-Berlin framework.
A review of what has happened to the campus ministry in recent times.
We have understood higher education to be the untrammeled search for truth. But to be a Christian is to be already convinced as to some of the answers. Can answers that organize the institution and determine its goal be examined with the same openness as others? There is, thus, a profound tension in the idea of a Christian college or university. Either it must compromise its Christian commitment or it must compromise the ideals of higher education.
Theological schools can provide solid and effective professional education only if it is clear to the students that their school studies and experiences are pertinent to their future ministry.
Money problems seem to be the first concern of seminary students followed by the gap between church and seminary, the lack of time in seminary to learn all that is needed to know, the shortage of "practical" learning, the need for seminary to change with the times and other items are discussed by seminary students.
The author offers the Lutheran understanding of "Christ and culture in paradox" as the proper rubric for looking at the relation of Christianity and higher education.
Whom does the intellectual work of today's academics serve?
What are the obligations of the student and teacher in the seminary classroom studying justice, ethics and fairness to the pickets outside the seminary who are demanding a fair wage?
Much theology in both liberal and conservative seminaries is abstract and unpreachable. Such theological intellectualism cannot be translated into the language of pulpit and worship and into the decision-making that must take place in the life of the churches.
Christianism led Western Europe to the catastrophe of the religious wars. Nationalism led to the catastrophe of two World Wars and the Holocaust. Economism is now leading to both social and ecological catastrophes of global proportions. Those who are already experiencing these catastrophes, along with others who see them coming in more massive forms, are forming alliances not only to protest but also to push for change before it is truly too late. The author calls this Earthism, and he holds that that seminaries and church-related colleges and universities must give leadership in the greening of higher education. He describes the challenge.
(ENTIRE BOOK) Professor Phenix purposes a new curriculum centered around the concepts of intelligence, creativity, conscience, and reverence. There is a distinction between the life of desire, self-satisfaction narrowly conceived, and the life of worth, goodness and excellence, conceived in terms of a moral commitment. Around these concepts come the human characteristics and values essential for a sound education.
These provocative reflections excerpted from Joseph Sittler's book, Gravity and Grace, (Augsburg Publishing House, copyright 1986) express with pungent language and metaphors his lover's quarrel with higher education in general and with theological education in particular, focusing on the continuing education of clergy, college and university faculties, as well as the laity.
The feminist practice of theological education features the themes of justice, dialogue, and imagination. Justice is central to the braiding together of ethics and epistemology in the formation of new meanings and functions of symbols. Dialogue is a process of concrete encounter, a conversation entailing risk and leading to transformation. Imagination, the ability to think the new, may well be one of the most crucial requirements of forming new ways of knowing and new ways of learning. Theological education is about the relationships formed, the style of teaching, and the extracurricular activities as well as the curriculum.
The curriculum of the seminary should be determined by and reflect the liturgical life of the church, for the most promising way to reclaim the integrity of theological language as the working language for a congregation is for seminaries to make liturgy the focus of their lives.
Because the individual congregation is such a rich expression of the church, studying it can focus theological education. The traditional disciplines of the church -- Bible, church history systematic and practical theology -- continue to function but at the same time, are coming apart.
The author suggests alternatives to existing models of higher education. Liberal arts colleges should develop curricula directed to making future professionals historically, culturally, politically, and socially aware. Study and research should be organized around problems., such as the following: How can we feed humanity in the future; What would further human fulfillment? How does work contribute or take away from human well-being? What can the economy contribute? What is physical health, and how is it attained? Universities should be focused on the common good of humankind.
Colleges and universities face ethical difficulties primarily because they are reflections of the moral aimlessness of our society as a whole. Children are mirrors of their parents.
In his review of George M. Marsden's book The Outrageous Idea of Christian Scholarship, Tinder agrees with Marsden's argument that Christian scholars should stop being merely Christian in private and endeavor to break down the antireligious bias in our predominantly secular college and university facilities. However, Tinder suggests the Christian claim of revelation will render this change unlikely in the arena of scholarly discourse with its insistence on rational objectivity.
There remain the differences among those who advocate a faith above learning, those who simply place faith and learning side by side, and those who affirm a faith for learning.
The current task of biblical interpreters of women’s issues should begin in the theological seminary. In the past, women were advised to enter religious education. No adviser would have thought of suggesting a Ph.D. in theology or New Testament. Women should be encouraged to explore the full range of academic offerings -- especially those that would strengthen skills in theology and/or biblical languages, for example.
Fifty years ago almost all seminarians in North America where white young men. Today women, ethnic and minority groups, all older, constitute the majority of students. Has this change been good or bad for theological education and for the churches’ ministry?
Life at "Mainline Seminary" is a choreographed battleground with affinity groups hunkered down in the trenches. There is no doubt that students are shaped by seminaries. The real question is: Toward what end?
Theological education ought to be about forming people for ministry, not simply conveying information.
Like public schools, higher education now functions in the service of the capitalist market. Whereas public schools are designed to produce workers for the market, higher education is designed to produce engineers, scientists, accountants, managers, consultants, and executives for corporations, as well as the teachers, doctors, and lawyers required for the market society.
Seminaries, whether large or small, conservative or liberal, have more in common with each other than with the churches they serve. Their internal lives--how they construct their curricula, select their faculties and set expectations of their students--are based more on the models of other seminaries than on the mission of the church.
The author portrays three periods in Western history -- Christianism, nationalism and economism -- and examines the implications for higher education. He proposes Earthism as a viable next step in our cultural development.
Trotter uses The Dean Earl Cranston Lecture at the School of Theology at Claremont on September 12, 1983 to explore the role of history and imagination in human experience. As Trotter builds his case for the recovery of imagination, he draws on a wide variety of sources in developing a careful and challenging proposal for fresh understanding and appreciation of the significance of a liberal arts education. Trotter also makes a case for why Christians should adopt such a stance in today's world.
In theological education, experienced voices are calling for a more central role for the practical disciplines - preaching, counseling, education, and the like. This may be seen as a return to an earlier effort to develop a comprehensive, integrated understanding of the life of faith in contemporary society. The central task of seminaries, however, must be to sustain pastoral leadership that is truly practical and truly theological -- able to continue in the churches the creative conversations sparked in the seminaries.
Schools create "white elephants" if they don’t teach faculty and students effective use of the new technologies and resources. Wise deans spend as much on training as they do on hardware, and they don’t let the hardware get "out in front of" the training.
Dr. Phenix examines the central role of a liberal arts education in creating and maintaining human freedom. Truth not only makes men free; it is also what free men make.
Piety and learning should unite in a style of life that characterizes the seminary as a whole, as a unique community of scholars and ministerial students. Piety in theological seminaries cannot be preformed. It must grow out of the tasks in which God’s people are involved, the sufferings they endure and the challenges they bring.
Theology, rightly conceived, is a communal, formative and critical activity that can serve both as the integrative factor in seminary teaching, and as a key link to the rest of the university and the wider society.
The dream is that the old divisions in ministerial studies, with their clerical emphasis and their specialized disciplines such as Christian education, will dissolve, and that a field of practical theology made up of people with broad theological knowledge and a deep, holistic understanding of each dimension -- as well as a focused concern for one dimension -- will emerge.
Bishop Willimon, former minister at Duke University Chapel, shows that Wolfe’s I Am Charlotte Simmons, uses Duke University, although not identified, as the university portrayed and gives a strong criticism of the book and its assumptions.
The contribution that current participants in the great religious traditions can make is to give up the competitive spirit for that of mutuality. The more we work together and learn from one another, the more our shared concerns can affect the public generally and public schools in particular.
Gabriel Fackre gives an overview of the current theological landscape from numerous theological seminary professors’ viewpoints, and concludes that there is a richly diverse field of complementary as well as contending positions. The emphasis in seminary teaching seems to focus on retrieval of traditions interpreted in a contemporary light, and leaving room for hope of a more ecumenical understanding of Christian faith.
No one should be allowed to teach full time in a theological seminary longer than six years at a stretch.
The church-on-campus model is not a reactionary call for return to pre-‘60s "glory days" or to an outdated worship style or study method.
A review article analyzing new books on the problems confronting American higher education: While higher education is obliged to resist the pernicious forces of the larger society, to expect it to be immune to their pervasive effects is unrealistic.
The authors discuss the disconnect between seminary doctoral programs for future seminary teachers and the local church needs of seminary students whom they will be teaching.
Seminary professors can teach pastoral care not only in the pastoral theology classroom, but in other seminary situations as well. Thus it is that seminaries should be prepared to help students grapple with searching, doubting and moral dilemmas. The new ideas they encounter at seminary may have brought their earlier faith understanding to an impasse.
Seminaries and denominations need to take greater care in monitoring what is happening to their candidates in student pastorates. If pastors are to have a fair chance at learning the profession, seminaries and denominations must begin to accept responsibility for clergy formation.
This is a second in a series about Garrison Keillor and his humorous but empathetic treatment of religion. Something like Amazing Grace is humming along through Keillor’s stuff.
A review of a new book on theological education. The massive quantity of information the seminary graduate needs to know, the time-demands placed upon him or her, the scholarly requirements, the need for "formation" (more than simply "learning things.") and a multitude of relevant issues is overwhelming.
The structure, content, functioning and theological ramifications of the mass media are largely ignored in the work of most theological thinkers and theological education institutions. Therefore, the culture addressed and referred to in most theological education has tended to be an elite culture. While such culture may give elevated and cultured expression to theological truth, it does not adequately express or touch the lived situation of the majority of people. The author describes the theological and hermeneutical implications of the new media reality.
Report on Candler School of Theology's attempt to provide the means of integrating theological learning and practice – i.e. teaching theology in context.
Does the church really want leadership willing to risk for the world? The church, reformed and always reforming, is the hallmark of our heritage. Without this reforming bias, we will never be able to fulfill the challenge of John 3:16 in this intimidating world.
The author reviews two books showing the problems which challenge church related colleges and universities in America. He gives one example of how one college has retained its academic quality and soul.
Wheeler cites the research done by Auburn Seminary's Center for the Study of Theological Education in intensively examining theological faculties in several seminaries, with particular emphasis on whether such schools will be able to recruit enough qualified faculty to replace the many who are currently retiring. After reassuring that enough qualified applicants are available, she warns of the current dangerous practice of replacing full-time tenured faculty with part-time adjunct faculty, and the importance of seminaries nurturing faculty members' sense of vocation, particularly junior faculty.
A review of a book by Donald Wiebe attacking present day religious studies as less than the objective science they were originally supposed to be.
Even the majority of those who treasure Underhill’s chief works may be unaware that she became a pacifist during her later years. Her change of opinion took place sometime between the two global conflicts. Her vision of peace was ahead of its time. It is still not widely accepted. Yet it contains a power dynamism.
The first step in the greening of theology would be to orient theological school research , whether in term papers, dissertations, or books and articles, to the needs of the world.
The self-identity of the seminary faculty has tended to move toward a discipline of peers independent of religion. There is a need to expand the world of the student beyond the strictly academic.
Steffen describes a college course in which students learned to listen -- and in which they themselves were the texts.
Although the phrase “practical theology” has been associated in recent decades with the least prestigious theological disciplines, there are several authors now trying to rehabilitate its meaning. Much more work needs to be done to establish practical theology as procedure and as method before it can become more central to theological education.
Review of a book on the theological teacher. The Lilly Foundation funded a gathering of a cross-section of theological teachers and administrators from seminaries, university divinity schools and colleges to explore the subject of theological teaching.
All denominations can be strengthened by the ecumenical education of some of their clergy. The strong students whom church leaders send to ecumenical seminaries will come back to them even stronger.
An interview with a prominent Christian educator about the problems seminaries face: finances, mergers, loss of interest from sponsoring churches, non-traditional students, and the enrollment of minorities and women.
Four conclusions are drawn from the healing miracle of the blind beggar narrated in Mark 10:46-52: 1. His powerlessness leads to economic disadvantage and physical liability. 2. The community perpetuates his powerlessness by forcing him to be silent. 3. Hope leads the man to speak out -- an act of social subversion. 4. The result of the transformation transforms the community’s life as well.
Surveying the distressed and distressing state of serious theological publishing, the churches are challenged to give their presses the support and the resources they require and deserve, for few denominational officials regard theological publishing as a critical element in their church’s mission.
(ENTIRE BOOK) This is a book addressed to those who have felt the pinch of a misfit between their expectations of theological education and the realities of a theological school. Theologically speaking, what ought to be the purposes and nature of theological education? What theological commitments ought to be decisive criteria for assessing and reshaping the ethos and polity of a theological school? The readers he has in mind include: perhaps a student starting her second year of study, or an academic who has just joined a theological school faculty and has never herself been previously involved in theological education, or a person newly appointed to the board of trustees of a theological school.
At both seminaries, Candler and Union (N.Y.), students and faculty participate in the perplexed American religious consciousness of the ‘70s: In a global community whose faiths are many, by what faith shall we live? In a time of disjunction between old and new languages of faith, by what language shall we witness to faith? And in a society whose institutions, seem mostly to threaten personal integrity, can we minister to persons without overhauling institutions?
The Wesley Ministry Network (WMN) enables people to sit in on the seminary lecture hall (via DVD), chat with other students and even the professor (over the Internet), and read the books their ministers had to go to seminary to learn about.
Schools of theology today must not try to be all things to all people. They must take sides. They must reject the traditionalist, supernatural God in all its trappings, and simply not graduate students into the Christian ministry who hold such a view.
The college campus introduces different cultures, allows exploration of new limits and offers tools for defining life. This article provides a snapshot of four different campuses in four different regions, where religion is alive and well.
Since God cannot be understood directly, in schools of theology we study other topics which we believe will lead to an understanding of God.
The D. Min. is a kind of rite of passage for clergy as they move into their midcareers. Over and over again we heard from ministers that the D. Min. gave them a new sense of their efficacy and enhanced their confidence and sense of self-worth.
Professors’ primary loyalty is likely to be to their fields of study rather than to the school’s general aims. Faculties need to develop new social identities and ways of being together that transcend their specializations.