The other day, Kim quoted from Stanley Hauerwas on ministerial formation. Allow me to repeat a morsel:
Medical education, therefore, entails moral formation that those who teach in divinity schools can only envy. Why are those who run medical schools able to form students to be physicians in a manner we are not able to train students in divinity schools? Again I think the answer is quite simple: in this day few think that an inadequately trained minister may damage their salvation, but we do believe an inadequately trained doctor may hurt us. Accordingly we often care a great deal more who our doctor is than who our priest may be.
If I’d been more on the ball recently, I’d have picked up that Angela Shier-Jones has been addressing a similar theme in a similarly forthright fashion. Here she is arguing that all ministers should have a theology degree before they are ordained
It’s not just that I am ashamed of the poor standard of ministerial education compared to our European and American counterparts, I am also horrified at the biblical and theological illiteracy which we foster on our people as a result.
The lack of ability of all too many ministers to engage critically and analytically with the rest of the world using the resources of the faith, (Scripture, reason, tradition and experience) is one of the main reasons that the gospel is often deemed irrelevant and anachronistic. It is widely thought by those who must wrestle with global problems such as ecology, justice, the war on terror and human trafficking that the Christian faith is as much use in such matters as belief in the tooth fairy is.
Surely the best way to begin to change this and to recover a national voice which can speak confidently and intelligently of Your concerns in these matters, is for the Church to follow the lead of the government. All ministers from 2013 should need a minimum qualification of a recognised Bachelors degree in theology or ministry before they can be ordained.
The fear that this will prevent people from offering for ordained ministry must surely be set alongside the fear of what is happening to the Gospel because we don’t!
Her follow-up post on Wesley’s lists is worth looking at, too. Guaranteed to rile some, but sometimes feathers have to ruffled.
I don’t know that I would go as far as Angela, but I believe she is right in every respect that matters. How about you?