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The Seminary Bubble

February 18th, 2013 No comments

From the Aquila Report, but I heard a UMC Bishop making essentially the same point 10 days ago:

Imagine an institution that requires its leaders to attend not only college, but graduate school. Imagine that the graduate school in question is constitutionally forbidden from receiving any form of government aid, that it typically requires three years of full-time schooling for the diploma, that the nature of the schooling bears almost no resemblance to the job in question, and that the pay for graduates is far lower than other professions. You have just imagined the relationship between the Christian Church and her seminaries.

Read the whole article. (Its title of the piece is a reference to the “Higher-Education Bubble,” the broader problem of which seminaries appear to be a piece.)

To complaints in this article I would add another. While I understand and approve of an educated clergy, the period of seminary education necessarily removes the student from the context in which his or her gifts for ministry were first manifested. Since we’re all about contextualization, a key aspect of the missional church movement, it hardly makes sense for the normal case to enforce decontextualization.