Friday, December 29, 2006

Reflections on the State of Academic Theology in the UK

I was pleased to come across the blog of John and Caroline Brand of Scotland, this afternoon. The Brands work with AIM International, John serving as the European Director. They are kindred spirits concerned with keeping intellectual rigor and edifying ministry together as opposed to the oft-encountered tendency to portray the two as necessarily being in conflict with each other.

John linked to an article by Dr. Oliver Barclay, former General Secretary of the Universities and Colleges Christian Fellowship, called "Where is Academic Theology Heading?" in which he inquires how adequately theology programs equip people for ministry in the church and concludes that it's not doing well. While written from the perspective of theological education in the UK, much of what he writes has application for the American context as well such as the following:
We have to ask if the debates that interest the world of academic theology are, in fact, the ones that many people outside the universities care about. Few university departments are able to help students to face the postmodern and relativistic fashions of today, the secular challenges to Christianity, or the real ethical problems that confront the local churches. You could ask someone what help his course has given him in talking to the sceptical thinkers of today, or in in ministering to the bereaved or dying. They come out of university in a situation a little like that of the medical student who complained that, while he had seen three coronary by-pass operations, which seemed largely irrelevant to being a GP, he had never been shown a patient with asthma.
By the way, the folks at UCCF are also responsible for, an excellent apologetic resource site. Good things are happening on the other side of the Atlantic!

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