This seems to be a particularly popular idea in the so-called mega-churches. These are congregations with the numbers and means to plant and grow their own churches without the assistance of a formal denominational affiliation or an accredited seminary. Sometimes they consider the outcome of seminary to be less than helpful. Other times they just prefer to keep their members close to home.
I wonder, though, what the long term effects of such a practice will be? Within a very short period of time it seems that if all education is accomplished within the confines of one church, or church movement, the danger of theological inter-breeding quickly surfaces. To what degree are these "students" being exposed to the wide variety of the0logical thought that exists? Are they learning about the various movements in church history or only their own particular and probably short lived history? Are they learning why it is important not to harmonize the Gospels and do they know about the important advancements in Pauline studies that have resulted from the New Perspective? Can they use Greek and Hebrew and can they articulate some of the more important theological doctrines?
I could go on. The fact is, however, I don't know the answer to any of these questions. I only know that I keep hearing about this trend, but I have yet to actually meet someone from one of these churches.
I would certainly agree that all theological educators need to think harder about what and how we teach our students. The old residential model of theological education is quickly dying. But I am not convinced that what we have to offer is no longer relevant.
I am curious.
- If you are someone that has opted not to go to seminary then tell me why.
- If you did choose to go to seminary tell me why.
- What are we doing right and what can we do better?
- What are we not giving you that you need?
- I would be keen to hear from people outside the USA as well.