For sometime I have followed the mantra, “Leaders Are Always Learners.” One corollary that I follow is that we should be willing to learn from everyone. James K.A. Smith in his essay “The Church, Christian Scholars and Little Miss Sunshine,” in The Devil Reads Derrida: And Other Essays on the University, the Church, Politics, and the Arts, contends,
It [following a hermeneutic of charity] will also require us to spend more time with our (dysfunctional) faith families, and to own up to the fact that we’re one of “them” – that, in fact, there’s no “us” and “them,” there’s just “us.” (p.xvii.)
In a recent podcast Trevin Wax suggested evangelicalism is likely to continue to fragment. Funny, Bill J. Leonard wrote that about Southern Baptists in 1991. Nary a religious denomination escapes the impulse to divide. Just take some time to read of the various inter-Nicene conflicts.
Philip Clayton writes in the Introduction to his book, Transforming Christian Theology: For Church and Society,
The second step in my transformation is to walk the talk, which means that I must also change how I communicate my reflections on Christian belief and identity. I can no longer publish theology books that are written primarily for specialists. (p.6)
Interestingly this is what Smith refers to when he contends he and others must offer “philosophical reflection in the service of faithful discipleship.” (p.xiv) Smith and Clayton come from very different places on the theological spectrum who both note the necessity for things to change. Insider conversations on important subjects offer little to a changing religious/spiritual landscape.
Tripp Fuller, Philip Clayton and others are hosting, “Theology After Google.” Already some have set aside those attending as outside of those dysfunctional faith communities Smith referenced. But, in an attempt to learn from one another and press one another further in what it means to follow Jesus in the changing environs of today’s world, maybe we should stop long enough to listen. I am. In fact, I am working on a presentation on just how we may get theological education out of the building without leaving the building. I am working on “Ivory Tower(s) Go Viral: Theological Education On Demand.”
Whatever place you find yourself on the theological spectrum, learning and leading are a must. Engaging in ongoing learning communities fueled by technological advances may save seminaries and their faculty from future extinction if theological education does (not) leave the building.