Ministry Training or Education?

The comment was made that in a ‘secular’ University some people wonder why there is a link to ‘training people’ for religious ministry, they think surely that belongs in seminaries.

On the one hand of course a defence, can be made for the place of theological education including for religious leaders in secular Universities with reference to the fact that religious groups do play an important part in society.

On the other hand interestingly, this comment attributed to ‘secularists’ is one that I think would find a lot of traction with some Christian people who want more and better ‘training’ (what to and how to) teaching for those involved in Christian leadership.

In turn, those Christians who support this comment are also sometimes those who think that they are the ones who know what and how things should be done. This of course does not mean that they know how to pass this on (train let alone educate) or that they are open to their views being challenged and critiqued.

There is an interesting often critical ditty which says: Those who can do, those who can’t teach. I am not sure that this is always true – but what is true is that those who can and do cannot always teach!

Insofar as theological education enables people to as it were become themselves, or who God wants them to be and teaches the ability for such people to work out in contexts, including contexts they have never been trained for, what is a theologically responsible thing to do – then I am on the side of education over training.

“The teacher is of course an artist, but being an artist does not mean that he or she can make the profile, can shape the students. What the educator does in teaching is to make it possible for the students to become themselves.”
Paulo Freire, We Make the Road by Walking: Conversations on Education and Social Change

Of course of course, these things, training and education are not mutually exclusive in so far as training encourages those trained to question the what and the how not least in relation to the why, – but I have never suggested that they are or set up the dichotomy I am rejecting.




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