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To Understand God Truly by David Kelsey


David Kelsey is Luther A. Weigle Professor of Theology at Yale University Divinity School in New Haven, Connecticut. His article is based on his convocation address in 1996 inaugurating a new academic year in which YDS, under the leadership of its new dean, Richard Wood, set out to develop new curriculum and programs recommended by a review committee, which was chaired by Kelsey. To Know God Truly: What's Theological About a Theological School?
was published in 1992 by Westminster /John Knox Press
. This book was prepared for Religion Online by Herb and June Lowe.


10. Between Athens and Berlin


What picture of excellent schooling does this proposal imply? Does it tend toward paideia as its model of schooling, for which we let "Athens" be the emblem in chapter 3? The proposal's stress on cultivating persons' conceptual growth, on shaping their identities, suggests that it does. Or does it tend toward the model for which we let "Berlin" be the emblem in chapter 4, with its combination of professional education and research-university Wissenschaft? The proposal's stress on keeping inquiry rigorous and on cultivating persons' capacities for critical inquiry by use of all relevant scholarly disciplines might suggest that it does. The contrast between the two models described in chapters 3 and 4 suggested that they cannot finally be synthesized. It was pointed out that for historical reasons theological schools in North America can disavow neither model and have to negotiate between them. Rather than favoring one model, does this proposal imply some distinctive way to negotiate between them? I think it does. We can bring this out by examining its implications for two issues that most strongly bring out the differences between "Athens" and "Berlin": (a) What role various academic disciplines have in theological schooling, and (b) what the schooling is intended to do to and for its learners.

A theological school and the disciplines

The model of excellent theological schooling symbolized by the inclusion of a faculty of theology in the University of Berlin tied "practical" education for a socially necessary profession (the clergy) to the "theoretical" education of a research university on the grounds that future clergy would be best equipped for their ministerial functions if they acquired capacities for rigorous critical research. That way they would be best prepared in an ongoing manner, on the one hand, to understand the cultural setting in which they ministered and possible new developments in it, and, on the other hand, to distinguish the essence of Christianity from its various historically conditioned forms and to reformulate it for every new cultural context of ministry. Schooling on this model can be said to aim at "shaping" persons after a fashion. However, what is "formed" is not the person as an agent in a shared public world, but "reason." Put simply, "reason" names the capacities needed to solve problems by asking and finding how to answer the right questions. It is "formed" by acquiring "disciplines" that keep its question-asking and question-answering rigorously self-critical.

By contrast this book urges that the overarching end or goal of theological schooling is to understand God; and "to understand" is to come to have certain conceptual capacities, habitus, that is, dispositions and competencies to act, that enable us to apprehend God and refer all things including ourselves to God. That is quite clearly in accord with schooling on the model of paideia. What is the relation between cultivating those dispositions and competencies, on one hand, and the academic disciplines that constitute the research university on the other?

The proposal here, in concert with a number of other commentators on theological education, [1] is that academic disciplines should be embraced by a theological school's course of study, although only in such a way that they do not define or organize the course of study. The question is whether this is rather like embracing a boa constrictor. Can the academic disciplines that define the modern research university, heir to Berlin, be embraced by a paideia-like schooling, heir to Athens, without the latter being crushed or, indeed, swallowed without a trace?

First we need to be clear why it is necessary for theological schooling to embrace relevant academic disciplines. Then we shall take the full measure of how difficult it will be to do so. Finally we shall take note of reasons to think that it is nonetheless possible to do.

There is a theological reason why it is necessary to embrace academic disciplines in a theological school's effort to understand God. God cannot be apprehended directly. Understanding of God comes indirectly by focus on something else whose study is thought to capacitate us for apprehending God. My proposal has been that the focus be the Christian thing in and as congregations. This is to make theological inquiry a positive inquiry in Schleiermacher's sense, that is, an inquiry into something that is concretely "given" and available for study. Furthermore, the proposal is that Christian congregations be looked at as sets of practices whose governing center is the enactment of a more broadly practiced public worship of God. This means that a theological school should engage not only on positive inquiry but in an inquiry that is inherently and inescapably a practical inquiry. Understanding God is rooted in practices; so are misunderstanding God and bad faith. Furthermore, these practices are materially based and socially located. That is what makes them concretely "positive" or given.

Accordingly, study focused on these practices must include inquiry not only into what the practices are that constitute a congregation, what their history has been, how they are to be evaluated, but also into their social and cultural locations. All of this generates the subject matter of the theological course of study. Although the ultimate point of studying this subject matter is to understand God, the more proximate point is simply to understand the subject matter truly. That requires rigorous and orderly methods of inquiry. That is, it requires a variety of types of relevant academic disciplines in order to accomplish the study's theological goals.

What is an academic discipline? For our purposes we may adopt Stephen Toulmin's description of a discipline as a "communal tradition of procedures and techniques for dealing with theoretical and practical problems." [2] On this description an inquiry is a "discipline" when it involves an ongoing community of inquirers whose work is a "practice" (in the sense described in chapter 6) disciplined by a common tradition of methods to be employed, a common language of technical terms and heuristic models, a body of accepted theory, and consensus about what counts as relevant data and a strong argument. Notice how this description of a discipline stresses its communal character:

a discipline involves among other things a shared language and agreed on conventions governing practices of inquiry. All of this is a matter of degree. Physics is a discipline, and so is neurology. Astrophysics is too, but with weaker communal agreement about what counts as a strong argument. History is a discipline, but perhaps with so weak a consensus about methods and heuristic models as to be closer to being a family of subdisciplines. Some inquiries may be nondisciplinable, as are, Toulmm thinks, ethics and philosophy.

What disciplines need to be embraced by a theological course of study? The answer must be: Those disciplines mandated by the sorts of interests we have in congregations. Our guiding and overarching interest lies in the ways in which congregations in their concrete reality are construals of the Christian thing, that is, it lies in the ways they go about worshiping God and therein apprehending God's presence. Given our goal to understand God, we want to ask three types of theological questions about congregations (What are these construals? In practice are they faithful to their self-identified norms? Are they true?). As we saw in the last chapter, interest in congregations as construals of the Christian thing generates a large array of possible subject matters for study, and the three types of theological questions can focus that study on the theological significance of those subjects. The process of answering the three questions needs to be as rigorously critical as possible. The critical rigor depends on the inquiry being disciplined in appropriate ways. Hence the academic disciplines that must be embraced by theological schooling are those dictated by our effort to question the Christian thing in three ways as it is available in and as congregations.

The effort to characterize construals of the Christian thing in the particular cultural and social locations that make them concrete will involve several disciplines: (a) those of the intellectual historian and textual critic (to grasp what the congregation says it is responding to in its worship and why); and (b) those of the cultural anthropologist and the ethnographer [3] and certain kinds of philosophical work [4] (to grasp how the congregation shapes its social space by its uses of scripture, by its uses of traditions of worship and patterns of education and mutual nurture, and by the "logic"of its discourse); and (c) those of the sociologist and social historian (to grasp how the congregation's location in its host society and culture helps shape concretely its distinctive construal of the Christian thing).

The effort to assess a congregation's faithfulness to its own self-described identity in relation to God will involve the disciplines of the intellectual historian and the textual critic (to grasp what are the congregation's self-adopted criteria of faithfulness in its uses of and allusions to scripture and the history of Christian thought, its references to Jesus, and its descriptions of its own relationship to God); and the disciplines of the human sciences (to grasp descriptively just what the congregation's dominant forms of speech and action are and what they signify in the context of the congregation's host society and culture).

The effort to assess the truth of the Christian thing as construed by a particular congregation will involve the disciplines of the textual critic and intellectual historian (to grasp the criteria of truth to which the congregation's construal of the Christian thing implicitly or explicitly appeals) and philosophical inquiry (to assess to cogency of the truth claims).

For theological reasons, all these disciplines, and probably more, are needed to make rigorous a theological school's pursuit of its threefold questioning of the subject matter it studies. A theological course of study must cultivate capacities to understand the practices comprising Christian congregations in several disciplined ways. It does not simply cultivate conceptual capacities in relation to congregations. Rather, it cultivates specifically philosophically and historically and sociologically and psychologically and anthropologically disciplined capacities to understand Christian congregations, in the interest (N.B.!) of acquiring capacities to apprehend God Christianly.

This qualification makes all the difference. It may be that exactly the same array of disciplined capacities is cultivated in a research university in a course of study focused on the phenomena of Christian congregations. The overarching goal of schooling in that context would be simply the cultivation of these capacities for disciplined inquiry for their own sakes. That they are focused on congregations would be accidental. So far as the defining interest of a research university is concerned, they might just as well be focused on any other set of institutionalized practices. In contrast, what makes a theological school theological is that its overarching and defining goal is to understand God, and it appropriates the cultivation of capacities for variously disciplined inquiry to that end.

This is not a matter of theological schooling taking in something alien. Embracing these disciplines does not create any problem of a threat to the broadly theological "integrity" of theological inquiry. None of these disciplines is inherently "theological" or "non-theological." I have urged that theology is no one inquiry. In the sense of "discipline" we have adopted, theology is no more a single discipline than Toulmin thinks philosophy is. What defines an inquiry as properly theological is neither its immediate and proximate subject matter (which in any case cannot be God) nor the distinctive method of inquiry it employs. Rather, what defines an inquiry as theological is its goal of understanding God more truly. There is no reason in principle why these disciplines cannot be appropriated and employed in the interest of pursuing that goal.

While there may be no reason in principle why a great variety of disciplines could not be embraced by theological schooling without threatening its integrity, there will be great difficulty doing so in practice. There is every reason not to underestimate this difficulty. The difficulty is that, while not the cause of the fragmentation of theological schools' courses of study, the differences among the disciplines have come to be a major force to preserve the fragmentation.

Fragmentation of theological schools' courses of study is currently legitimated and masked by the venerable and apparently rational fourfold pattern of organization of the course of study. The fourfold pattern was not generated by the differences among the disciplines theological schools had embraced. Rather, it was developed as a way to organize the courses of a curriculum in a pattern that reflects what the "clerical paradigm" took to be the overarching goal of theological schooling: the education of clergy. By the seventeenth century, pietist Protestantism had come to look on theological schooling as a movement from revealed sources (scripture), through the extraction and systematization from the sources of their doctrinal content (theology), to clarifying doctrine and making it more precise through the history of theological controversy (church history), to application of the doctrine in ministerial practices. [5]

This movement was the basis on which the courses making up a theological curriculum could be organized in a fourfold way. The fourfold pattern can be traced historically to the influence of Karl R. Hagenbach's Encykopädie und Methodologie der theologischen Wissenschaften, first published in 1833.[6] It tends to divide the courses that make up the curriculum into four "areas" or "fields": biblical, theological, historical, and practical. There are variations in the pattern. For example, the historical and theological areas may be combined into an area described as "Interpretation of Christianity" while the older "practical" field is divided into two, one dealing with "Church and Culture" (sociological, psychological, and philosophical studies of church phenomena in American culture) and the other dealing with the practice of ministry construed as the application of social scientific and psychological theory to clergy responsibilities. Or the traditional fourfold pattern may be retained by a fifth "area" to house "Christianity and" inquiries ("Christianity and Society," "Christianity and the Arts," etc.).

It is important to note that these areas or fields are not defined by distinctive methods of inquiry or "disciplines," but by subject matter. They are not fields of some one discipline, say history. Within a given area several different disciplines may be employed. The number of areas is defined by the number of types of subject matter that are deemed to be essential to a well-rounded theological education. The function of areas is to divide the curriculum's courses into the academic equivalent of food groups, daily selection from each of which is essential to a healthy theological diet. Each student is to have some study in each area.

The four curricular areas have become holding pens for groups of "academic specializations." Edward Farley points out that academic specializations do not correspond to curricular areas. They are partly defined by their subject matter. Specializations have relatively narrow subject matter. They are usually subdivisions of areas. Within the area of biblical studies there are the specializations of "Hebrew Bible" and "New Testament"; and within them there can be further specializations, such as "Gospel studies" in contradistinction to "Pauline studies." Research in the Gospels, in turn, becomes even more specialized as groups of scholars concentrate on using a distinctive method: rhetorical criticism vs. redaction criticism, and the like. So specializations, partly defined by subject matter, are also partly defined by specific disciplines.

This brings us to the way in which various academic disciplines can serve to preserve the fragmentation of theological courses of study. Academic specializations tend to be partly defined by the use of a distinctive discipline. Disciplines, in the sense of the term we are borrowing from Toulmin, have a strong communal dimension. They consist of practices that are communally shared. The social practices involved in academic specializations tend to be institutionalized (often informally) outside of theological schools in what are often referred to as academic guilds. These are institutionalizations of the groups engaged in these practices of research on national and even international bases. They become the arbiters of excellence in the specialization. Status and social and political power within the guilds thus shape inquiry as deeply as do status and power within a theological school.

The possible tension between the two institutionalized sets of practices, that of the guilds and that of the theological schools, has powerful consequences for a theological school. It may easily come to be the case in a theological school that the objectives governing, say, inquiry into Old Testament historical narratives, may be more deeply shaped by interests currently central to the relevant guild than by the horizon of three questions that refracts the interest defining the theological school, namely, to understand God truly. More generally, disciplines tend to develop an agenda of their own as sets of practices with interests rooted in the social location of these practices (e.g., in universities). They tend, in short, to take on a life of their own, having the power to order and govern the courses comprising a course of study. In this context, commitment to the specialization and its central discipline may lead to a commitment to preserving one's own area in the fourfold curriculum, thereby preserving the curricular fragmentation that the fourfold pattern of curricular organization has come to represent. For that reason, in the present state of inquiry in theological schooling it may be difficult for theological schools to embrace the disciplines without threat to the theological integrity of their theological task.

Clearly, theology as the effort to understand God better by focusing study on Christian congregations is not itself an area (not a discrete subject matter), certainly not an academic specialization, and not at all a discipline. It is no one thing. It is certainly not to be equated with "systematic theology." It is rather the work of the entire theological school (and is too important to leave to the systematic theologians alone). It is, in Stephen Toulmin's phrase, "field encompassing." Hence the courses that make up a theological school's course of study must not only draw on information and insights from a variety of fields or areas of subject matter but must also employ the methods, forms of argument and accepted types of evidence, regnant theory, and technical language that constitute the several disciplines. However, if it is genuinely to be a theological course of study its use of these disciplines must be governed by the overarching end of theological inquiry: To understand God by focusing study within the horizon of questions about congregations.

While the communal character of the disciplines may tend to make it difficult for a theological school to embrace them without threat to the school's integrity, another feature of academic disciplines makes such embrace entirely possible. What makes it possible is the fact that disciplines are themselves defined not by their subject matter but by their interests in the subject matter. Those interests (What is the historical provenance and origin of this text or practice? What is the internal logic or "grammar" of that way of speaking, of that emotion or this passion, of that type of action? What is the social location of this group and its characteristic points of view? etc.) can be subordinated to and appropriated by the interests governing a theological course of study (How and why do these congregations understand themselves, their neighbors, and their shared worlds in relation to God under these specific circumstances?).

In order to appropriate the relevant disciplines for its course of study a theological school needs to find ways in which to countervail the disciplines' tendency to take on lives of their own. A theological school must find ways to insist that its own interests set the agenda guiding inquiry that uses the several disciplines. This is a point at which attention to the concrete reality of a theological school is of utmost importance. A theological school is a self-governing institutionalized set of practices. Nothing would be accomplished by recommending that a school disassociate itself from the disciplines, except loss of capacities for rigorous self-criticism in inquiry. Theologically speaking, that would be an act of faithlessness. Not much more would be accomplished by attacking the academic guilds in which disciplines' communal practices are institutionalized. Given that they are constituted by such practices, if they lacked the guilds, the disciplines wouid nevertheless necessarily have some sort of institutionalized social space and form which would pose the same type of problem to theological schools that the guilds do now. Consequently, far more to the point would be the deliberate development and institutionalization of practices within and among theological schools that would make prominent the theological school's own particular agenda of interests in congregations, encourage inquiry governed by that agenda, and reward such inquiry in its processes of promotion and assigning of scholarly status and esteem.

If a Christian theological school succeeded in doing that, it would have negotiated between "Athens" and "Berlin" in a distinctive way. With regard to its overarching goal it would side more with Athens than Berlin. The goal is to form persons with the habitus that capacitate them as agents in a shared public world to apprehend God Christianly, rather than to form only their "reason" with capacities for disciplined critical and self-critical inquiry. As in paideia, habitus that capacitate people to apprehend God are formed only indirectly by study of something else. However, the range of things studied and the type of critical thinking employed are appropriated from "Berlin." Classically, paideia focused study on texts and, while it cultivated capacities to test the cogency of arguments critically, it was uncritical of received or traditional authorities to which arguments might appeal. A theological school according to this utopian proposal would appropriate from "Berlin" an openness to take as its subject of study all components of the Christian thing concretely present in and as congregations, their social and institutional forms as well as their texts and their forms and contents. It would also appropriate from "Berlin" its disciplines of critical and self-critical inquiry that assume nothing is exempt from critical testing. However, it would appropriate these aspects of the "Berlin" model of excellent schooling by abstracting them from the institutional structures that make them the concrete practices they are in research universities. Thus, in its concrete reality such a theological school would no more consist of the institutionalized practices constituting an actual school modeled on "Berlin" than it would consist of the institutionalized practices constituting an actual school modeled on "Athens." It would simply be itself.

A theological school and its learners

Central to the practices that comprise a theological school are practices of teaching and learning. They are institutionalized in the roles of"teacher" (faculty) and "students" and the structure of the status and power relationships between those roles. Nonetheless, the distinction "faculty/student body" is not identical with the distinction "teaching! learning." It is a commonplace that in the practices of teaching and learning, faculty often learn and students often teach. Our concern here is with a school's relationship to all who learn. What does a theological school's practices of teaching and learning do to and for these people? Is what it does more in accord with paideia than with wissenschaftlich "professional" schooling, more modeled on "Athens" or on "Berlin"?

A theological school does two things in particular to its learners. What it centrally tries to do for people is to cultivate and nurture in them a range of capacities and abilities in relation to understanding God. A theological school cultivates conceptual capacities in the sense of "conceptual" we discussed in chapter 6. They are capacities and abilities to act in certain characteristic ways in relation to God, and to ourselves, other persons, and the social and natural contexts of our lives insofar as all of these are related to God. To have these abilities is at least to some degree to understand God and all things in relation to God. Put another way, to have these conceptual abilities is to be capacitated to apprehend God "Christianly." Recall the distinction drawn in chapter 8 between "doing theology" in the proper sense and doing it "educationally." Congregations necessarily do theology in the proper sense; doing theology is inherent in the practices constituting a congregation. A theological school also necessarily does theology in the proper sense, and for the reason that it is inherent in the defining goal of such a school. However, it also is the case that a theological school does theology in an educational way. That is, by doing theology a theological school aims to cultivate particular capacities for theological reflection and for theological critique.

Does the fact that this proposal pictures theological schooling as a kind of "formation" of people mean that it implicitly adopts the model of theological schooling as paideia? I think not. Granted, there are important formal resemblances. Our proposal suggests that theological schooling, paideia-like, helps capacitate persons with habitus. Like classical paideia, it does this indirectly, by focusing study on something else. Unlike the capacities cultivated by schooling on the Berlin model, these habitus are not limited to capacities for engaging in critical inquiry. Rather, as in classical paideia, what is cultivated are dispositions to act in the public realrn in certain ways. Moreover,. the habitus cultivated in paideia necessarily include ones that are existentially shaping. Acquiring them helps shape and change one's very identity.

However, active engagement in the practices comprising a Christian congregation will do that too. Indeed, as we saw in chapter 3, that is what gives an air of plausibility to looking on the practices of Christian worship as engagement in a "Christian" type of paideia. By contrast, recall that we have made a major point of the fact that engagement in the practices of theological schooling focused by study of Christian congregations requires no more than an "as if' acquisition of the conceptual capacities constituting Christian identity. Theological schooling involves conceptual capacities that are existentially forming, but perhaps in a subjunctive mood, "condition contrary to [personal] fact." In that way, the picture of theological schooling sketched here is finally not a picture of paideia. Some of the practices of a congregation may be like paideia, but theological schooling in the end is not.

Underlying that difference is another having to do with view of human personhood. The concept of paideia entails postulation of something like an ahistorical and universally self-identical essential self -- a substantial soul (Plato) or consciousness-as-such. In contrast the picture of a theological school outlined here logically requires nothing of the sort. While it doubtless overlaps with the paideia model of schooling, it is finally like it only in superficial ways.

Is this utopian proposal then more like the Berlin model in what it calls for a theological school to do for learners? After all, we have said in addition to "forming" persons' conceptual capacities to apprehend God Christianly, a theological school may capacitate people specifically for leadership roles in Christian congregations. Granted, while it has the capacity to do this, it does not necessarily do so. A constant theme in this proposal is that the unifying and defining goal of a theological school is its interest to understand God for the sake of understanding God and not for any other purpose such as preparing leadership for Christian congregations. Nonetheless, a school's practices of teaching and learning are in fact the best way to prepare church leadership. Does that align this proposal with the Berlin model and its call to theological schooling to be "professional" education of church leaders? I think not.

To explain this we need to explore the idea of church leadership. We have already tended to associate it with ministry. This is not wrong, but it could easily mislead us into equating the two. "Ministry" is frequently used as a generic characterization of what I have called "public worship of God in the broad sense" or discipleship. To minister is to be in the service of the One to whom the congregation is responding in worship. It is the entire congregation and not only its leaders that engages in ministry. However, there are a variety of activities embraced in the practice of the public worship of God. Each of them requires leadership, sometimes of more than one type. Precisely because it is leadership in relation to the worship of God, it calls for well-developed capacities for theological judgment. These are the capacities cultivated by participation in the practices comprising a theological school.

The variety of types of leadership calling for capacities for theological judgment needs to be stressed. For all of their diversity they all require capacities for doing theology ad hoc, and in some cases capacities for doing it in a sustained and methodical way. Consider some examples. Central to the entire practice of the public worship of God, we have insisted, is the activity of reminding, indeed confronting the congregation with Who and what it is they are responding to. Someone must be made responsible for preparing and delivering the word, and someone made responsible for presiding at the sacrament. Carrying out this leadership responsibility requires a variety of abilities and capacities. Crucial is the capacity for ad hoc self-critique of the Christian adequacy and truth of sermons and homilies as well as of liturgical forms while they are being prepared and enacted. It also requires capacities for sustained and methodical reflection on the theological standards that are likely to be largely implicit in the ad hoc critique.

The practice of the public worship of God, in the broad sense adopted here, also embraces pastoral care of persons in various sorts of trouble through acts of reconciliation, healing, guiding, and sustaining. [7] These acts ultimately aim to help persons deal with questions about the meaning and worth of their lives by helping them not only to understand their troubles in a fresh way in the light of God's presence but also actively to live through their troubles in the context of God's presence. A variety of capacities are needed in order to provide such care. They are in some respects quite different from the capacities needed for leadership in word and sacrament. Pastoral caring requires not only those capacities that make someone "empathetic," "sensitive," and "perceptive" about other persons. It also requires some grasp of a range of theological concepts that are existentially shaping -- for example, hope, and how it is different from optimism; joy, and how it is different from euphoria; grief, and how it is different from depression; acceptance, and how it is different from resignation; anger, and how it is different from self-hatred; self-regard, and how it is different from egotism. Moreover, like leadership in proclamation, leadership in pastoral caring requires capacities to make ad hoc theological judgments in the midst of pastoral care-giving. They are judgments about the Christian adequacy of what is pastorally said and done given the particularities of that individual situation.

The public worship of God also embraces acts done in the public realm in solidarity with those who suffer because of unjust social, economic, and political arrangements that are systemic in the society. This is perhaps less obvious. However, if the normative instance of the odd way God has been and promises yet to be "present" is the ministry, crucifixion, and resurrection appearances of Jesus of Nazareth; and if what is central to Jesus' mission was the proclamation of the imminence of God's "kingly" rule breaking the powers that bind and deform creaturely life; and if what is significant about the crucifixion and resurrection appearances of Jesus is that in that very peculiar way and form God's "kingly" rule has been inaugurated in history, though not yet realized; and if public worship of God in the broad sense is faithful discipleship to God's mission in Jesus; then faithfulness itself requires that the practice of the worship of God include witness to and celebration of God's redemptive work in the public realm on behalf of those who suffer bondage to injustice.

Granted, there is room for considerable disagreement about the Christianly appropriate mode of this action. It ranges from the view that such action should only take the form of a "witness of presence," when necessary going no further in action than civil disobedience; to the view that it may take the form of active intervention in the political life of society, on rare occasions going as far as active involvement in violent revolution. On any view, however, these activities require leadership that has ranges of theological capacities and abilities that are different in many respects from the capacities needed for leadership in proclamation or in pastoral caring.

This leadership also requires that these abilities be governed by other capacities. These latter are capacities for ad hoc judgment of the Christian adequacy of the forms of speech and action being employed, and capacities to weigh in a sustained and methodical way the truth and "Christianness" of the theological criteria used in the ad hoc assessments.

Granted, there is room for considerable disagreement about the Christianly appropriate mode of this action. It ranges from the view that such action should only take the form of a "witness of presence," when necessary going no further in action than civil disobedience; to the view that it may take the form of active intervention in the political life of society, on rare occasions going as far as active involvement in violent revolution. On any view, however, these activities require leadership that has ranges of theological capacities and abilities that are different in many respects from the capacities needed for leadership in proclamation or in pastoral caring.

This leadership also requires that these abilities be governed by other capacities. These latter are capacities for ad hoc judgment of the Christian adequacy of the forms of speech and action being employed, and capacities to weigh in a sustained and methodical way the truth and "Christianness" of the theological criteria used in the ad hoc assessments.

The public worship of God also embraces activities that are specifically educational. These are activities in which the communal identity of congregation and the personal identities of its members are shaped in ways appropriate as responses to God's presence in Jesus of Nazareth. Central to this "forming" are the various ways in which biblical writings are used in the community's common life. They are used in informational ways so that their content is learned, their historical backgrounds understood, the histories of various types of communities that use them is known, and the relation to various traditions of Christian thought and practice is grasped. Ultimately, however, the informational education in a congregation is ordered to another more identity-shaping type of education. In this type of education persons are helped to see God's odd way of being present in Jesus as the context of their own lives. It is a context in whose light they come to see themselves and their shared public world in unexpected and fresh ways. These educational activities call for leadership capacitated by still different ranges of abilities-knowledgeability about the relevant information, pedagogical skills, understanding of the conceptual capacities of persons of different ages and of what they are capable of acquiring conceptually, etc.

Beyond that, leadership in educational activities in a congregation requires capacities for theological judgment. Here most of all, these must be capacities not only for ad hoc theological judgments in the midst of educational activity about what is being said and done, but also capacities for sustained and methodical theological reflection, both constructive and critical, on the theological formulations being used as norms of Christian adequacy and truth in the ad hoc theological judgments made in all of the activities comprising the congregation's common life.

Thus in many and various ways the leadership required by the activities embraced in a congregation's practice of the public worship of God demands capacities for theological judgment that are conceptual capacities which may be acquired in a theological school. However, this is not really what the Berlin model calls for. Recall that Schleiermacher's proposal justifying theological schooling in the new University of Berlin had two poles. Insofar as it is excellent schooling, it had to be wissenschaftlich; insofar as it is genuinely theological, it had to be "professional" schooling preparing leadership for a "necessary practice." True, my proposal includes features that formally resemble each of those poles. However, the resemblances have such different contexts and bases that they can hardly be considered to be so much as a modification of the Berlin model.

The relationship between a theological school and the wissenschaftlich disciplines was discussed in the previous section. There the argument was that for theological reasons theological inquiry needs to be as critical and self-critical as possible and therefore must make use of rigorously critical conventions of inquiry, that is, Wissenschaft. However, the argument went, unlike the Berlin model, this proposal does not set up the cultivation of capacities for critical inquiry as the defining goal of schooling. Cultivation of those capacities is secondary and instrumental to pursuit of theological schooling's own proper goal. To that distinction between this proposal and the Berlin model another must now be added.

The Berlin model introduces an important modification of the traditional picture of the movement of theological schooling. As was pointed out in the last chapter, whereas ancient theological schooling was a movement from revealed sources (scripture) to personal appropriation, in seventeenth-century Europe it became a movement from revealed source to formulation of doctrine contained in the revealed source (systematic theology) and clarified through the history of doctrinal conflict in the church (church history) to application of that doctrine in the tasks of church leadership (practical theology). The view of theology that Schleiermacher assumed in his argument for the inclusion of a theology faculty in the new University of Berlin implied a modification of that movement. Theology was for him a movement from descriptive accounts of what Christianity has been and now is as actually given (i.e., as a "positive religion") to the development of a theory about what is the "essence" that makes all those different versions of Christianity nonetheless one thing (i.e., their shared "Christianness"), to the formulation of the implicit rules governing practices, and leadership of those practices, that are genuinely "Christian." So theological schooling was to have a movement from sources (history of Christianity or historical theology, including scripture) to a theoretical moment (philosophical theology) to the application of the theory to practice (practical theology). This is why Wissenschaft was so important. It meant, quite particularly, the disciplines of the academic historian to make sure the first moment was rigorously done, and the disciplines of the academic philosopher to make sure that the second, theoretical moment was rigorously done.

Schleiermacher's three-step movement did not affect the future of theological schooling very much at the organizational level. Theological schools tended to preserve the fourfold organization of the curriculum rooted in the earlier four-step movement of schooling. However, Schleiermacher's proposal did profoundly affect the movement of subsequent theological schooling. Where once it had been a movement from revealed wisdom to changed personal identity through personal appropriation of the wisdom, and then it had been a movement from revealed truth to the application of that truth to life, especially the life of church leadership, now it became a movement from theory about "positively" given Christian phenomena to application of that theory in practice. In this, theological schooling was of a piece with research university schooling generally. It was a movement from data to formulations of theory (here university responsibility ended) which might then be applied to solve various problems (here applied science and engineering of all sorts begin). Schieiermacher argued that in the case of medical, law, and theology faculties the University of Berlin ought to make an exception at just this point. Here the university ought to combine research with its application for sociological reasons: These are the three professions that are necessary for society's health (presumably civil or mechanical engineering were not "socially necessary" in the same way). Hence these three were to be

"professional schools" incorporated in a research university, although admittedly anomalous there.

In this context "theory" means a type of description that is highly general and very powerful. It is highly general in that it applies to wide ranges of phenomena that might appear to be quite different from one another. It is very powerful in that it generates a large number of explanations of otherwise puzzling matters, or a large number of solutions to practical problems, or large numbers of predictions that turn out to be correct. Theory, in this sense of the term, is ordered to practice. Thereafter doing theology, which had been seen as "sapiential," the cultivation and exercise of the wisdom that is inherent in faith, came to be seen as a type of theorizing which could subsequently be applied to solve problems in Christian life and thought. That is central to the Berlin model of excellent theological schooling.

This is a major point at which this utopian proposal does not comport with the Berlin model. While it implies the appropriation of the academic disciplines that keep schooling wissenschaftlich, this proposal rejects the Berlin model's picture of doing theology as a type of "theory construction" and its picture of theological schooling as a movement from theory to application. The proposal roots theology in engagement with a set of practices. "Theology" covers a wide variety of activities all of which are required in one way or another by the effort to access critically a certain array of practices. It simply is not a type of academic theorizing in the sense of "theory" symbolized by "Berlin." Moreover, the proposal entails no particular pattern of movement for theological schooling and implicitly rejects the Berlin model's movement from theory to application (if there is no "theory," there can be no movement "to" application!). If anything, the proposal is closer to the earliest picture of the movement, the appropriation of wisdom inherent in practices for which faith, hope, and love are the habitus.

What about the "professional" pole of the Berlin model? Does nor our claim that a theological school is of the bene esse of congregations because it can prepare church leadership imply that we have adopted at least this half of the Berlin model? No, for at least two reasons. For one thing, I have argued for the "theological school paradox": It is precisely by being schooled in a way that is governed by an apparently nonutilitarian (read: "useless") overarching goal (that is, to understand God simply for the sake of understanding God) that persons can best be prepared to provide church leadership. Consequently a school that can prepare such leadership cannot be defined by the goal to educate leadership for the churches-which is exactly what the Berlin model does do. This too is a fundamental difference in principle between the Berlin model and the proposal sketched here.

A second difference between the two regarding the "professional" character of a theological school arises from the nature of "leadership" in congregations. It is not clear that church leadership is best characterized as professional leadership in the sense of professional assumed by the Berlin model. Profession and professional are sociological concepts. The "sociology of professions" is a recognized subfield in the field of sociology. However, profession is used in different ways by different sociologists. Jackson W. Carroll has surveyed this variety and helpfully analyzed its implications for characterizing church leadership. [8]

There seem to be six elements commonly thought to constitute a profession, but different writers interrelate them and weight them variously. [9]

A profession is:

(1) a full -time occupation (vs. the part-time amateur);

(2) set aside from others by various signs and symbols (vs. the laity) and identified with peers (often in and by an organization with power to enforce a common ethos and ethic, to impose standards for education for the occupation, to control entry into the occupation and thereby control its market, to be self governing)

Leadership for the activities comprising the common life of a congregation does not necessarily incorporate these two elements of a profession. "Set aside from others" raises the topic of ordination. Not all church leadership is ordained. What the theological rationale is for ordination and just which leadership roles should be ordained is a controversial issue that has no implications for this book and to which this book, in turn, has nothing to contribute. What is clear is that theological schooling does not qualify persons for leadership responsibilities that are to be "set apart" simply because they have received that kind of schooling. If they are set aside by ordination, it is for other reasons. The nature and purpose of ordination does not define the nature and purpose of a theological school. In any case, neither ordained nor nonordained church leadership is necessarily "full time." It may be that for historical and cultural reasons ordained leadership will in fact continue to be largely a full-time occupation in most congregations in North America. If so, that is a contingent fact and not inherent either in the concept "leadership in a congregation" nor in the concept "ordained."

Furthermore, a profession is:

(3) marked by a sense of calling, which means that the occupation and all of its requirements are treated as an enduring set of normative and behavioral expectations;

(4) marked by a service orientation, which places the needs of the client(s) above self-interest.

Leadership in a congregation does incorporate these two elements of a profession. "Call" is not limited to the ordained. From the perspective of Christian congregations it is not even limited to "leaders." Theologically speaking, to be a member of the congregation is to be called to ministry. Different kinds of leadership roles and responsibilities give different specific content to "service." Most important, the relation of leader to the congregation is not in any of its varieties the same as the relation of a "professional" to a "client." The service is always an exercise or enactment of habitus, or capacities and abilities for theological judgment. Indeed, this theologically formed service orientation is central to the set of normative and behavior expectations that go with having a call. However, incorporation of these two elements alone is probably not enough to classily congregational leadership as "professional.

Finally, a profession

(5) is marked by possession of esoteric but useful knowledge and skills based on specialized training that is usually long and difficult; and

(6) enjoys autonomy in the exercise of its knowledge and skills, restrained only by the profession's ethics.

This is the point at which the deepest difference occurs between our proposal and the Berlin model of "professional" schooling. There are two issues: "What counts as 'competence' in congregational leadership?" and "How can competence be valued without introducing theologically unacceptable divisions between clergy (the competent) and laity?"

Theologically, it is important to stress that it is the entire congregation that engages in ministry in the public worship of God. Various kinds of leadership in regard to that ministry are exercised by persons who stand in parity with everybody else so far as their shared ministry is concerned. Hence a profession's stress on "autonomy" and its view of those served as "clients" are both inappropriate in congregational leadership. Nonetheless, leadership requires competence. Our stress that leadership does require highly developed theological conceptual capacities, capacities for theological judgment, underscores that point.

Sociologically, it is important to note the sorts of "esoteric but useful knowledge and skills" that our society values as the basis of true professionalism. Under the all-pervasive cultural influence of modern science and technology, our society values knowledge rooted in scientifically based theory that is translated into skills for solving individual and social human problems. These are knowledge and skills that involve the distinctively modern type of rationality that social theorists call "technical rationality." That is the sense of "rationality" taken for granted by the Berlin model of excellent schooling. If congregational leadership were "professional" in that sense it would be scientifically based and would rely on technical rationality.

Some sociologists deny that clergy are a profession on the grounds that clergy do not rely on technical rationality, have no skills based on a distinctive body of scientific theory, and therefore have no socially useful role to play. The line of thought could easily be shifted from ordained clergy to congregational leaders. Conversely, some theologians in effect deny that church leadership is a profession precisely because it ought not to employ technical rationality. Technical rationality is a quite different mode of rationality from the sort of wisdom that is rooted in faith, hope, and love for God. Any effort to produce scientifically based knowledge and skills regarding theologia would simply objectify and deform it and thereby misunderstand it. To think of church leadership as a profession is to require that education for it be training in a set of scientifically based skills. Others go further. They distinguish between authority based on expertise and authority based on personal relationship with God. [10] The former would be a profession relying on technical rationality to rationalize the holy that is a-rational, which sounds like a fruitless undertaking; the latter would be a "sacramental person" mediating God's presence.

Surely, however, it is a mistake to divorce competency for leadership in a congregation's

common life from rational competencies. There is strong theological reason to challenge narrowing of "rationality" to "technical rationality." Rationality names the array of capacities required to understand critically and self-critically, in the sense of "understand" outlined in chapter 6. That array certainly includes capacities for various sorts of "problem-solving," which seem to be the capacities valued by technical rationality. But rationality goes beyond that, including a richer range of capacities. Nonetheless, it does not exclude the capacities comprising technical rationality. Competence correlates with having the richest array of capacities-to-understand that is required by a certain set of practices. They are all rational capacities. Congregation leadership requires high competence. What counts as competence cannot be adequately characterized as "information and skills." It certainly includes that. However, competence in congregation leadership is probably more adequately characterized in a general way as "knowledge, capacities, and abilities," which mark it as eminently rational competence.

Such competence is acquired through participation in the long and difficult practices constituting a theological school. The knowledge and capacities in which this competence is based are not necessarily rooted in technical reason but are nonetheless rational. Accordingly, theological schooling that may incidentally prepare church leadership, even though like "professional education" it may be long and difficult and nurture common skills and capacities, ought not to be considered professional schooling in the Berlin model's sense of professional. Thus, our proposal no more adopts the way the Berlin model defines the professional school side of its picture of excellent theological schooling than it does the way it defines the wissenschaftlich side of that picture.

This honors the tradition in theological schooling that insists that whatever else it does, a theological school should prepare "learned ministers." My proposal has been that precisely because a theological school is not defined by the goal of educating church leaders it may, as a matter of contingent fact, prepare its students very well for leadership in congregations. The leadership may be either lay or ordained, full or part time. The theological course of study may equip persons particularly well for these leadership roles precisely by cultivating in them variously disciplined capacities for understanding the congregations they lead, and capacities for understanding how congregations concretely are the Christian thing in a particular construal, for understanding how to assess with both vision and discernment congregations' faithfulness to who they say they are, and for understanding how to lead them into being "truer" to themselves. What justifies calling such leadership "learned" is not necessarily that it has an unusually deep fund of arcane information and an unusually subtle grasp of esoteric theory, for it may well be that many other members of the congregations who are not in leadership roles have acquired all of that. Rather, such leaders would be learned in the distinctively modern sense of having had their capacities to understand variously disciplined by the several relevant academic disciplines.

If a Christian theological school succeeded in doing that, it would have negotiated between "Athens" and "Berlin" in a distinctive way, not only in regard to modern academic disciplines, but also in regard to what it does for its learners. The goal is to form persons with the habitus that qualify them as agents in a shared public world to apprehend God Christianly. Most broadly speaking, that is what a theological school can do for its learners. In that regard it sides perhaps more with Athens than with Berlin. However, although acquisition of some of the requisite conceptual capacities shapes the personal identity of the learner, they can be acquired through theological schooling in an "as if' mode. Since it is a mode of schooling aimed at "forming" the very identity of its learners, paideia is more like what goes on in Christian congregations than it is like the theological schooling proposed here.

More narrowly, theological schooling aims to capacitate its learners to understand Christian congregations as diverse concrete construals of the Christian thing. In doing that it can prepare its learners for leadership responsibilities in congregations. The nature of the practices making up congregations requires that their leaders be "theologically schooled" in the sense of the term developed in this proposal. Schooling modeled on both "Athens" and "Berlin" can and has done this. However, unlike most theological schools on either model, the school sketched in this proposal is not defined as a "theological" school by a goal to educate church leadership. If some (or all) of its learners end up providing leadership for congregations, that is simply a contingent fact, although the fact that they are well educated for such roles is a result of their having been well schooled theologically! In any case, a theological school according to this utopian proposal would reject central features of the Berlin model by denying that the capacities it cultivates in its learners are capacities for "theory" (in the "Berlin" sense of the term) which are subsequently to be "applied." Moreover, since for theological reasons congregational leadership cannot be adequately characterized in the sociological sense of the term as a 'profession," a theological school in accord with this utopian proposal is not a professional school on the Berlin model and does not even contingently educate church professionals. Thus, in regard to what it does for its learners quite as much as in regard to what it does with the academic disciplines, a theological school in accord with this proposal would simply be itself comporting no more with "Berlin" than it does with "Athens" but holding aspects of each together in what can only be described (and, if one lived in such a crossroads hamlet, experienced) as "dialectical tension."

Notes

1] See Edward Farley, Theologia, esp. chs. 6 and 8; idem, The Fragility of Knowledge; esp. ch. 3; Max L. Stackhouse, Apologia, ch. 9; Charles Wood, Vision and Discernment, esp. ch. 5.

[2] Stephen Toulmin, Human Understanding, vol.1; The Collective Use and Evolution of Concepts, p. 142.

[3] As James Hopewell's pioneering work points out. See Hopewell, Congregation: Stories and Structures

[4] Although Toulmin doubts that it is a discipline! See note 2 above.

[5] See Farley, Theologia, Part I, for a brief, generally accepted history of its development.

6] K. R. Hagenbach, Encykopädie und Methodologie der theologischen wissenschaften, 12th ed., ed. Max Reischle (Leipzig: S. Hirzel, 1889).

[7] William Clebsch and Charles R. Jackle, Pastoral Care in Historical Perspective (New York:Harper & Row, 1975).

[8] Jackson W. Carroll, "The Professional Model of Ministry -- Is It Worth Saving?" Theological Education (Spring 1985), pp. 7-48. Carroll answers the question in his article's title with a "Yes"; I will answer it with a "No.

[9] What follows is a rearrangement of a list Carroll (ibid., p.10) draws from sociologists Wilbert E.Moore And G. W. Rosenblum, The Professions: Roles and Rules (New York: Russell Sage Foundation, 1970), p.5.

[10] Carroll cites A. M. Carr-Saunders and P. A. Wilson, The Professions (Oxford University Press, 1933) and Robert Towler and Anthony P. M. Coxon, The Face of the Anglican Clergy: A Sociological Study (London: Macmillan & Co., 1979).

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