Sir, — Your recent extract, concerning the Revd Sarah Coakley, from Rupert
Shortt’s book God’s Advocates (
Features, 9 September) illuminated an accelerating trend in the UK. We are
losing our most able theologians to America.
I am no academic, but just looking around people I know on the move at the
moment, I see Dr Sam Wells, one of the finest young moral theologians, and Dr
Mark Goodacre, one of the leading English New Testament scholars, both off to
It is not that the whole missionary enterprise depends on theologians. But
unless challenging and deep theology is taught and experienced, a Church
seeking to preach the gospel in a post-Christendom world will simply end up
mouthing easy platitudes. (After all, there is quite a lot of evidence of this
If British universities can no longer afford to teach theology, the Church
of England’s preference for placing theological colleges near universities
cannot solve the educational issues of the next few decades.
Training theologians and then creating the exciting and challenging contexts
in which they can do their most creative work may seem like an impossible dream
in the current intellectual climate in this country. The question is whether we
have a future as a missionary Church without such investment.
Derby Cathedral Centre
18/19 Iron Gate
Derby DE1 2GP