Questions about the future of theological education and its viability seem to be on the rise. The economy and technology provide the instigation. Can students afford tuition? Are donors happy? What about investment income? Are there ways to more effectively reach those who long for formal education but are increasingly unwilling to put vocational calling on hold and move to a distant city? Is a combination of cyber campus and bricks and mortar a viable possibility?
These are matters faced by many if not all seminaries. For my two cents you should consider Biblical Seminary if you are interested in formal theological education. Dave Dunbar, President of Biblical, recently offered some thoughts on the shape of theological education at Biblical. Theologial education rooted in the mission of God properly bridges the un-healthy divide between the theoretical and practical veins coursing through seminary education.
My five reasons to consider Biblical Seminary.1. Dave Dunbar – Leading in transition demands risk-taking. No failure of nerve is allowed when making the long slow turn toward a new vision. An academic always learning facilitates an atmosphere of learning among others. Great conversationalist.
2. John Franke and Todd Mangum – I am sure I would be taken by all of the faculty members at Biblical. But, my pleasure has been to develop friendships with John and Todd. Observing their friendship and the sharpening of ideas that takes place between them is inspiratioal. Every faculty needs someone who is willing to think forward, even with great risk. John understands the nature of the theological turn needed to address our post- everything world. People like John are often mis-understood as they stand at the front edge looking for hope-filled intersections between Gospel and world. He really is a theologican on the “edge of the inside” in the best sense of the phrase.
3. Support Administration – Pam, Rick, Karen, the tech guys and others help create a great campus atmonsphere.
4. Students I have met – from the first ETREK to the current Shapevine course the learning realtionshps extend both directions. Todd, Ginger, Tim, Kriss Ann, Adam, Kristi, Adam, Bruce, among so many more.
5. Hatfield, PA and its surrounding area – the Philadelphia area is always a great place to spend some time.
5 comments on “The Mission of God and Theological Education – Biblical Seminary”
Whenever I hear critiques of the emerging church/missional theology/progressive Christian thinking in postmodern culture, I always encourage these people to check out Biblical, especially Franke’s work. I have seen the folks at Biblical consistently address many of the critiques being leveled, even if they haven’t necessarily arrived at a final conclusion. As far as the process goes, Biblical is asking the right questions and opening the right doors.
I just want to echo your sentiments Todd. I am finishing up my DMin at Biblical in May 2010 and it has been a great experience. I have been challenged and affirmed and realized that I am not alone! I highly recommend Biblical to any who are considering theological education.
I trust your experience at Biblical will continue to be a highlight for you.
Would very much like to read your thoughts on the difference between “education” and “indoctrination”. I think this tension aligns with your ongoing discussion about evangelicalism and post-modernity, and speaks to the question of how “firmly” one ought to hold onto one’s intellectual positions in the face of new or conflictual information. And, indeed, this cuts to the heart of the issue surrounding the relationship between “faith” and “reason” that pretty much defined “modernity” (the definition of which we are still hashing out, in short bursts, on Facebook).
In a related vein, we would do well to stress the distinction between theoretical and applied learning – i.e., the translation of conceptual models into concrete actions – which I take it is where a certain tension can also be found in the Seminary environment. I will not soon forget having someone stand up in my Advanced NT Greek class at Fuller and denounce the requirement as having no bearing on the Christian mandate to evangelise the world. Couldn’t help thinking, then and now, that seeing as the “gospel” as received has come down to us in that language, it might behoove us to have a better understanding of what that mandate might be by reading those texts, rather than popular English translations of them.
The late Robert Webber described his faith journey as beginning with familial faith, then questioning faith and then owned faith. Certainly familial faith may comport with indoctrination. Facing new and conflictual information draws us into questioning faith. Where we come out on the other side may be said to be owned faith.
One of my favorite young philosophical/theologs is Peter Rollins. He offers this and I would think it would describe what I would see as the delineation between indoctrination and education – Thinking, Not Dogmatism.
I cannot tell you how many times I heard your scenario (last paragraph) played out on a number of levels.