Is theological training dumbing down?

by
30 January 2008

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From Canon Professor Anthony C. Thiselton
Sir, — The BBC Radio 4 programme Where’s the Femur? last month served as a timely wake-up call concerning medical training. My medical colleagues in the University have long voiced such concerns.

But does anyone see the parallel with theological training for the ministry? Missing out anatomy and physiology for doctors is parallel with missing out, or dumbing down, basic Bible, doctrine, and Greek for many ordinands.

Both professions seem to imagine that communication skills are a substitute for basic instruction. But skills-based learning cannot substitute for the real thing, namely preparation for biblical instruction. None of us want it to be an either/ or, but in crowded syllabuses and cost-cutting training, this is what we often face. We need a comparable wake-up call for ministerial training.

ANTHONY C. THISELTON
Department of Theology and
Religious Studies
University of Nottingham
Nottingham NG7 2RD

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