“Guenevere never much cared for God. She was a good theologian, but that was all.” So wrote T. H. White of the aging heroine of his Arthurian romance. The queen sought to free her beloved Lancelot to pursue God as he passionately desired. So she became mother abbess of a convent and an eminent theologian, though her profound capacity for love never fixed upon God.
This month many students will enter seminaries. Most will study theology, and we should hope and pray that no one will ever be able to say of them that they “never much cared for God.”
Most seminary students come with a sense of “call.” But discovering the full meaning of that call will require prayerful exploration and a deepened understanding of self and God’s purposes. The church, of course, needs these students to become good theologians, but heaven help us if that is all that can be said of them.
This fall, seminary students are likely to find theological education in a state of ferment. Seminaries, whatever their theological persuasion, have been among the most change-resistant educational institutions. But there is a growing awareness that the way the church selects and equips its leaders should be undergoing a fundamental revolution.
Some of this change is “market-driven,” giving potential employers what they want; but that is not necessarily an unwarranted compromise. It is often an overdue response to the seminary’s long-standing mission to serve a changing church. The church is changing—in styles of evangelism and worship, in demographic profile and cultural diversity, in the multiplication of specialized ministries, and in stronger demands for effectiveness. In addition, the world is also a rapidly changing, fast-moving target. It is more post-Christian, ...1
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