theological education

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Reviewed by: Ryan Roberts
Date Reviewed: April 15, 2020
Demographic and societal shifts in religion—to say nothing of higher education challenges—gnaw at North American theological education. The turbulence around the religious and educational environment is constant, and the essays in this volume acknowledge these challenges while exploring methods to move forward. The essays were written by seminary presidents and university leaders of various traditions to honor Daniel Aleshire, longtime executive director of the Association of Theological Schools (...

Demographic and societal shifts in religion—to say nothing of higher education challenges—gnaw at North American theological education. The turbulence around the religious and educational environment is constant, and the essays in this volume acknowledge these challenges while exploring methods to move forward. The essays were written by seminary presidents and university leaders of various traditions to honor Daniel Aleshire, longtime executive director of the Association of Theological Schools (ATS). The first four essays address the challenges faced by theological schools while the final two essays examine the rise of non-Christian traditions in North America. Outside of the six essays, a helpful introduction provides coherence to the book, while the honoree of the volume supplies an afterword.

The first two essays by David Tiede and Martha Horne soberly name the disruptions around theological education. Tiede raises four pressing challenges and how Lutherans (ELCA) are addressing them: the digitization and marketing of everything; the cost/debt spiral; the need for leadership change; and the focus on educational results. Horne provides a call for change through the story of Desmond Tutu’s awakening to how theology is shaped by different historical, sociological, and cultural contexts. This should drive an ability for Anglican comprehensiveness, anchored in communion, worship, and mission, that allows for theological inquiry and debate.

Donald Senior focuses on the type of Roman Catholic seminary candidate needed for the emerging needs of this world. Priestly formation from the work of Pope John Paul II roots this vision and is then joined with values from Pope Francis’s vision of the joy of the gospel, care for creation, and mercy. While other essays focus on curriculum or mission, Senior calls for a counter-cultural vision for theological education embodied through its people.

Evangelical pragmatism and its aversion to seminary training is the focus of Richard Mouw’s essay. Mouw encourages theological schools to listen to concerns and questions of those in ministry. Theological educators must make the case for theological education, but must do so with an empathetic spirit throughout the conversation.

The final two essays by Douglas McConnell and Judith Berling examine multifaith engagement and its implications for pedagogical concerns. McConnell grapples with how to engage a multifaith context from an evangelical framework. He calls for convicted civility rooted in hospitality and illustrates this through an institutional case study. Berling traces the history of multifaith theological education in mainline seminaries and explores ongoing opportunities and challenges. She raises the many ways that tradition can be both understood and shaped; this flexibility in tradition should aid in classroom pedagogy and interreligious learning.

The volume as a whole encourages faculty, administators, stakeholders, and institutions to discern their core identity and mission. This, in turn, should drive what doctrines/affirmations and practices of life are central to a school’s tradition. While not prescriptive in methodology, the essays provide a quick read for busy stakeholders that can foster reflective dialogue on mission, tradition, and vision.

Reviewed by: Daniel D. Scott, Tyndale University College and Seminary
Date Reviewed: June 17, 2021
Theological education in the United States finds itself in untested circumstances today. Rapid social change is creating an increasing multicultural, multiracial, and multireligious context for leadership formation. At the same time, international enrollment, cross-border educational initiatives, student and faculty exchanges, and more are connecting US theological schools with a global community of Christian teaching and learning. How do US theological institutions “locate” themselves within this global ecology of theological formation ...
Theological education in the United States finds itself in untested circumstances today. Rapid social change is creating an increasing multicultural, multiracial, and multireligious context for leadership formation. At the same time, international enrollment, cross-border educational initiatives, student and faculty exchanges, and more are connecting US theological schools with a global community of Christian teaching and learning. How do US theological institutions “locate” themselves within this global ecology of theological formation so as to be both responsible participants and creative shapers within it? That is, how do they discern their proper place and role? It is questions like these that the contributors to this volume explore. Building on the decades-long discussion about the globalization of US theological education, this book argues that, in engaging such questions, US theological institutions have much to gain from a sustained conversation with the burgeoning literature on the internationalization of American higher education. This research offers theological institutions a trove of insights and cautionary tales as they seek to discern their rightful place and role in educating leaders in and for a global Christian church. (From the Publisher)
Reviewed by: Daniel Orlando Álvarez, Pentecostal Theological Seminary
Date Reviewed: June 21, 2021
What difference does Jesus Christ make for the way we teach the Christian faith? If he is truly God and truly human, if he reveals God to us and us to ourselves, how might that shape our approach to teaching Christian theology? Without a compelling theological vision of theological instruction and without a clear awareness of its unique goals, challenges, and temptations, our teaching will be out of joint with ...
What difference does Jesus Christ make for the way we teach the Christian faith? If he is truly God and truly human, if he reveals God to us and us to ourselves, how might that shape our approach to teaching Christian theology? Without a compelling theological vision of theological instruction and without a clear awareness of its unique goals, challenges, and temptations, our teaching will be out of joint with the subject matter, and we will waste valuable opportunities.

Drawing on the work of Søren Kierkegaard, Karl Barth, and Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Adam Neder offers a clear and creative theological and spiritual reflection on the art of teaching the Christian faith. This concise and engaging book offers a wealth of fresh insights and practical suggestions. While addressed to teachers in academic contexts, the approach is broad enough to include anyone involved in teaching and learning Christianity. (From the Publisher)
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Qualitative Research in Theological Education: Pedagogy in Practice

Moschella, Mary Clark; Willhauck, Susan, eds.
SCM-Canterbury Press Ltd., 2018

Book Review

Tags: qualitative research   |   research   |   theological education
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Reviewed by: Gary Eller, University of Nebraska - Omaha
Date Reviewed: April 16, 2019
If you are looking for a current collection of essays about the state of qualitative research in theological education, then this volume edited by Moschella and Willhauck will be extraordinarily useful. The contributors offer a broad-based, international approach to their topic, complete with case studies and a select bibliography. Together, they argue that qualitative research is essential to the formation of ministers and theological scholars. Moschella’s introduction provides a ...

If you are looking for a current collection of essays about the state of qualitative research in theological education, then this volume edited by Moschella and Willhauck will be extraordinarily useful. The contributors offer a broad-based, international approach to their topic, complete with case studies and a select bibliography. Together, they argue that qualitative research is essential to the formation of ministers and theological scholars.

Moschella’s introduction provides a concise overview of how this collaborative project began, key themes in the field of ethnographic studies, and how each of the essays addresses these issues. There is real value here for the reader who is just plunging into the study of qualitative research and needs an overview of how the discipline is developing.

This is a handbook in four parts, with fifteen chapters. As such, it is designed for both reading and reference. In addition to the introduction, most readers will benefit from the first two entries that comprise

Part One, “Exemplary Research Essays.” Whitmore’s essay, “Theology as Playbook and Gamefilm: Explaining an Ethnographic Approach to Theology to a Sports-Centred Culture,” uses sports analogies to underscore the vital connection between theology and practice. This is one of several essays that emphasize the theological nature of ethnographic research. For theological educators, this is an important contention which broadens the discussion beyond contrasting qualitative versus quantitative methods and goals. Just how inclusive that discussion can become is indicated by Sorajjakool and Prachyapruit in “Qualitative Methodology and Pedagogy: A Study of the Lived Experiences of Thai Peasants within the Context of Western Development Ideology.”

Part Two, “Issues in Education and the Practice of Research,” includes ten chapters that emphasize the embodied and contextual nature of qualitative research. They are also a reminder that the interdisciplinary nature of this work is a necessary and fitting response to the complexity and messiness of real life. While there are several strong essays in this group, particular note should be taken of “Promoting the Good: Ethical and Methodological Considerations in Practical Theological Research” by Graham and Llewellyn, along with “Just Don’t Call It ‘Ethnography’: A Critical Ethnographic Pedagogy for Transformative Theological Education” by Wigg-Stevenson.

Part Three, “Integrating Qualitative Research into Theological Education”, includes Mellott’s “Qualitative Research in Theological Curricula” and Clarke’s “Wonder and the Diving Dance: The Lived Reality of Qualitative Research within a Master of Divinity Curriculum.” Both essays are valuable for theological educators and will repay rereading. The concluding section, Part Four, “Valediction,” is a single essay by Willhauck, “The Gift and Challenge of Qualitative Methods for Pastoral Formation.” Four major themes for teaching qualitative research are identified and briefly discussed including: contextualization, communication, reflection/reflexivity, and vocation (264). Willhauck’s elaboration on these themes makes a fitting conclusion to this extraordinarily rich and suggestive resource.

“Toto, we’re not in Kansas anymore.” So many of our students have a “Dorothy” experience when they enter theological and religious education. Our classrooms are not what they have had previous experience of. Our classrooms are not the local church, not Bible college, not the family reunion, not church ...

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