What should theological education become?
Theological education has long been successful in the United States because of its ability to engage with contemporary cultural realities. Likewise, despite the existential threats facing it today, theological education can continue to thrive if it is reinvented to fit with the needs of current times.
Daniel Aleshire, the longtime executive director of the Association of Theological Schools, offers a brief account of how theological education has transformed in the past and how it might change going forward. He begins by reflecting on his own extensive experience with theological education and reviewing its history, dating back to colonial times. He then describes what he believes should become the next dominant model of the field—what he calls formational theological education—and explores educational practices that this model would require.
The future of theological education described here by Aleshire would make seminaries more than places of professional preparation and would instead foster the development of a “deep, abiding, resilient, generative identity as Christian human beings” within emerging Christian leaders. But it is a vision that, while not a linear continuation of the past, retains the essence of what theological education has always been about.
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At once visionary and realistic, the books in this series offer fresh, short, and very different answers to the question, ‘What is theological education for?’ Studies of that question have appeared every couple of decades and seem to assume that ‘one-size-fits-all’ answers are possible. What’s new and groundbreaking here is that a group of theological educators from a broad array of very different religious traditions address the question in conversation with one another and in light of the changing place of faith communities in contemporary culture.
—David H. Kelsey, Yale Divinity School
I would be hard-pressed to name any other resource that even approaches this series in its visionary outlook and wide perspective on the challenges and opportunities currently facing theological education. The authors represent an unparalleled selection of leaders in theological education whose views and experiences point to different paths into the future, all leading to true excellence and relevance in theological education.
—Justo L. González, author of The History of Theological Education
The authors of this series invite us into an exercise of the imagination—to let loose of the theological school models we know so well and instead craft ways that we teach and learn as if we are living in the new Jerusalem. This is daring work. Will we have the will to grasp it? I encourage you to read and see.
—Emilie M. Townes, Vanderbilt University Divinity School
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