Theological seminary education is in trouble and in transition. The predicament is summed up neatly by Dean George Peck of Andover Newton Theological School: “The man who isn’t confused about today’s developments in religious education and its many implications just doesn’t know what he’s talking about.… You’re not in the swim just now unless you’re way out of your depth.”
Seminaries face a formidable array of problems. They are confronted with a crisis of “image identity,” a faculty “brain drain,” increasing tension with new undergraduate and graduate programs of religion in the colleges and universities, recruitment and enrollment nightmares, and above all secularized Christianity and theological vagary. And, in addition, many pre-seminary and seminary students, adrift in a world of change, are searching for a firm anchor of certitude. (See editorial on page 28.)
Although the “identity” crisis is an old and recurring one, it has reached an acute stage in recent years. The seminaries are on a seesaw that has at one end the professional-school concept and at the other the graduate-school idea, and they teeter with the pressures of the hour. In an address to Harvard Divinity School last year, President Nathan M. Pusey said:
It is a truism that a professional school that is not a graduate school is always in danger of being little more than a trade school or a school for technicians. On the other hand, a professional school that is a graduate school is always tempted into pursuit of scholarship to the neglect of the practical needs of the profession it was established to serve.
It is virtually impossible for any institution to maintain perfect balance on this seesaw; one side or the other almost inevitably ascends while the other ...1
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