Theological Education, Anyone?

Hi, I’m Amy. I’m not new to the blog–I’m a frequent lurker and occasional commenter.

As someone who is entering seminary this year, I’m interested to know if any of you are going to seminary, or if you have considered it, or if you even care about theological education. What is the value of that to you, fellow YARs?

I’m going to the Lutheran Theological Seminary in Philadelphia (this is my first year), and trying to figure out how to get my Anabaptist stuff while here. You might be asking why a Mennonite would go to a Lutheran seminary–well, show me a Mennonite seminary that is in the city, and focuses on urban issues, and I’ll be there!

I’m looking forward to reading your comments, and hearing your perspectives.

Comments (7)

  1. Skylark

    If I had unlimited time, money and resources, I’d love to go to seminary. I don’t plan to pursue anything theological or ministry-based as a career, so I’ve sufficed with a couple of undergrad theology classes and the free evening seminars a local quasi-Christian college offers. Plus what I read and gather from more educated Christians.

    I’ve been told, after answering a non-Christian’s theological question, that I have an academic bent to my personal theology. *shrug* For what that’s worth.

  2. SteveK

    I went to a Bible school and got a degree in Theology and a minor in Greek. I have a friend of mine who has two masters and a doctoral degree all in theological education. He and I are in agreement about the education offered– that we weren’t able to study what we were really searching for until we got out of school. I think that such education is good to give you the basics and good to teach you how to use the tools to study Biblical truth. But to FIND the truth, that must be done post-education.

    Steve K

  3. ST

    I was on the fencepost about going to seminary for a while. The deciding factor to go next year was a traumatic experience I had in the South America. There was a massive theological divide among Mennonite young people (age 16-25) at a conference where I was a dialog facilitator. I heard a lot of regurgitated missionary rhetoric from the turn of the 20th century repeated by Paraguayan, Argentine, and Uruguayan people my age. A lot of other stuff happened that made me ask thousands of questions about the church globally and my roll in it.

    When I recovered a month later, I realized that I wanted to understand from where our diverse perspectives came. So I’m going to seminary to study the different twists and turns of the Christian church (and other religions too) and the history/herstory of the Jesus movement.

    In the midst of living life’s questions and my faith journey, I feel like I’m at a time in my life where I’m crafting a new set of questions, and I’m excited to see how AMBS can be a part of that.

    Amy, like you, I am also interested in urban issues. AMBS is in Elkhart, which, in many ways has similar issues and suffers from many of the same problems that urban areas do. It is just that it is not on the same scale, and also does not have the same advantages (i.e. resources and programs, city initiatives) that many urban areas do. It’s in the Midwest, a region suffering from the decline of general civil society, and mounting religious intolerance. People are increasingly more organized into social activity groups through or based on religion. Within this context I hope to be a part of a collective of critical theological voices; generating new perspectives that can dialog and/or resist the co-optation of faith for violence, fear, or consumption.

    As a scholar-activist, I recognize that I can’t find what I’m looking for only in a classroom, at any seminary or academic institution. I am committed to testing and cultivating my academic theological work based on the real lives and struggles of the multiple human communities I’m a part of. One major way is through the new MVS unit in South Central Elkhart, an intentional community. Already members of it are working with the pastors of 4 churches, the leadership at 2 NGOs and numerous other concerned community members to address some of the violence (cultural/structural/direct) in our community and promote language learning (Sp/Eng), culture sharing, and affordable housing.

    Check out the post called “A little help from YAR friends” where some stuff about seminary was discussed. Beyond just studying urban theology (which I feel is super-super important) how do you activate what you are learning? Is what you (and the multiple human communities around you) see and experience able to deeply affect your academic work?

  4. Gareth Brandt

    Also check out the Toronto Mennonite Study Centre which is part of U of T in a city of 3+ million if you’re open to coming to Canada

  5. AmyY (Post author)

    ST, I really shouldn’t be so flip and dismissive of Menno Seminaries. I don’t mean to be. I know Elkhart and surrounding areas deal with poverty. But, not in the same way as Philadelphia does right now.

    My passion is working in this city of mine, and I’ve committed myself to doing contextual theology, in my home invironment, in the neighborhood I love.

  6. ST

    That makes a lot of sense. That’s why I’m in Elkhart. It’s my city. Good luck in Philly.

  7. Sean F

    Something worth looking into is the Alternative Seminary in Philly. It’s not accredited, but if you’re after an education as opposed to a degree, it would definitely fit your desire for an urban liberation theology-style seminary environment. It’s very informal and they only offer a couple of classes each semester, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing, depending on what exactly you’re looking for.

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