"It's About Time!"
I give a hearty "It's about time!" to the assertion by C.S. Calian (“Conversations at the Speed of Light,” Spring 2003) that, "there is a greater need in our post-modern, pragmatic society to justify the need for theologian education." In fact, as a seminary board member, seminarian, and one convinced of the absolute need for classical theological education in the church today, I am afraid this realization has arrived at the table too late to reverse many disturbing trends in the North American church today. One of these disturbing trends is an open hostility to all but the most basic Bible education among denominational leaders in the evangelical world. In fact, in speaking with a denominational official about the use of the much-marketed Natural Church Development survey for grading congregations and leaders on their effectiveness, he made the comment that, "We have the numbers. The higher a pastor's education the lower their church's NCD scores. It's a fact." It seems that Calian doesn't go far enough—perhaps we need to justify the notion of education, period, theological or otherwise.
Erin, Ontario, Canada (submitted by e-mail)
Reverend Jacob Birch is the pastor at Erin Village Alliance Church and a board member of Tyndale College and Seminary.
“Vulnerability” is not the word that ordinarily comes to mind when we think of leadership. Courage, vision, strength, decisiveness, direction, control, power, the ability to keep one’s head when others are losing theirs—these are the qualities demanded of the contemporary leader; however, the image of “Reb Jesus” (“A Sacred Heart,” Spring 2003) on the cross offers a different model.
Of the leaders I have known, few have been willing to be vulnerable. It’s dangerous to be vulnerable. It might get you killed! Still, leaders in theological education, of all people, should possess an open heart, value innocence, curiosity, listening, embracing, compassion, acceptance, caring, shepherding, exposure.
Becoming vulnerable, by definition, opens you up to criticism and possible rejection. But that’s the risk that the servant leader must take.
W. Ward Gasque
W. Ward Gasque is president of Pacific Association for Theological Studies.
As further evidence of “The University Connection” (Spring 2003), collaboration with other seminaries and with the University of Chicago (and its divinity school) played a critical role in McCormick Theological Seminary’s move to Hyde Park in 1975. Now, nearly thirty years later, this collaboration (which includes free-to-the-student cross-registration with all of the other seminaries and for a limited number of courses at the divinity school) is a major attraction for students who choose McCormick for their theological education. Some of what we share are formal programs (McCormick and the School of Social Work at the U of C offer a joint M.Div.-M.S.W. program) and some are informal opportunities, including regular meetings among faculty in particular disciplines.
On March 1, McCormick moved into a new building which we constructed on the campus of the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago. While we continue to operate as separated seminaries with our particular mission and distinctive programs, we share fully the operation and maintenance of the campus, classrooms and library. There is no question that this enables each of our schools to do more and to make more efficient use of resources than we could on our own.
My thanks to In Trust for highlighting this important development in theological education.
Cynthia M. Campbell
Cynthia M. Campbell is president of McCormick Theological Seminary.