For Further Discussion within Your Institution


This article offers a short lexicon on the topic of exceptionalism. As you reflect on your institution, which words resonate? When you interrogate further, what is your conclusion?


special. separate. exceptional. compare. superlative. reciprocity. inter-relatedness. other-than. superiority. inter-connectedness. mutuality. different. distinctive. similar. autonomous. solitary. independent. world-class. humility. hubris. alone. ownership. unique. self-reliance, independence. exemplary


Honesty with the data involves an examination of your institution’s statistics and those of all ATS schools. In what way are you aware of this information and its ability to help shape understanding, attitudes, and a future trajectory that keeps exceptionalism at bay?


To what degree do your publications, website, social media platforms, etc., communicate an exceptionalism that does not reflect your internal sense of self? How could your public face messages show understanding of self and respect for the other?


What would happen if you convened a meeting with the schools in your geographical area, discussed exceptionalism and its risks, and pursued ways of living further into reciprocity and mutuality?


Some will argue that schools must be distinct and exceptional for theological, biblical, ecclesiastical, or denominational reasons. A move away from exceptionalism will result in a sloppy ecumenism. Are these concerns valid as you scan the landscape of contemporary culture, religion, inter-religious dialogue, denominational loyalty, and the like?   

Rod Wilson's Summer 2024 piece on exceptionalism in theological education raised several interesting questions. What's below is some data to consider and then questions to consider.
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