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Jesus Creed

Seminaries are today again up for review. The editors at Christian Century have a series of questions we can discuss and then they have a rather firm suggestion as well. How would you answer their questions?

If church leaders had the chance to fashion a seminary from scratch, what would it look like? Would it have its own campus? Would it be tied to a denomination or be fully ecumenical? Would the classical academic subjects be taught and, if so, how would that learning be correlated with the work of forming spiritual leaders and training them in the practice of ministry? Would greater emphasis be placed on supervised ministry? Might the entire curriculum be based on an apprenticeship model of learning?

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Seminaries and their constituencies should use this moment to consider new pedagogical models as well. Take, for example, the longstanding disconnect between the practical fields of ministry and the academic disciplines of Bible, theology, ethics and church history. Curricular discussions have focused on how to help students integrate the practical and theoretical aspects of study, but most efforts end up maintaining the division and placing the burden of integration on the students more than on than the curriculum and the faculty. Is it time to organize courses around the life and mission of the church?

Change usually comes slowly to institutions, but these are not usual times. Deft administrators and imaginative teachers will have to take some risks to redefine theological education for the next generation.

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