Beyond requirement in theological education: a reflection on longing

Though I’ve tried to change this about myself many times, my singular passion is for theological education. I wish I could switch, I’ve tried, but it stays with me.

One of the frustrations with theological education is that for many Christian traditions it is required in order to officially lead in any capacity. Many jobs within Christian institutions are reserved for those with official training of some kind, with official documentation. I’m certainly not against training, merely the result of taking a movement built by the unschooled and ordinary and putting them through a system to make them, at least seemingly, schooled and extraordinary. Many Christian leaders in the making have a passion for a great number of things, all filtered through the singular belief that Jesus Christ and his gospel will bring about his kingdom of peace, joy, love and truth. When that passion is pushed through the sieve of  institutionalized theological education the result is often varied, and too often with unfettered passion diminished under the weight of canned knowledge.

One of my primary theses regarding theological education is that it doesn’t have to be like this. We can acquire the necessary and helpful knowledge without losing passion, and even have them serve one anther. Even as a middle and high school Bible teacher, this is my goal (albeit a bloody challenge, no doubt).

I was reflecting on issues related to this this morning, and contemplating moments in my own formal training that were positively transcendent. For instance, in an otherwise dry Hebrew class when the professor sang “There is a Fountain Filled with Blood” before exegeting  Isaiah 53, pausing to explain what each detail had meant to him personally over the years, and the entire class had done more than learned about Hebrew Grammar, Jewish history, prophetic imagery, Old Testament Christology and Biblical theology, we were worshiping Christ through all of it.

In this brief reflection I just want to share an idea. Theological education happens in and out of formal training, and in all contexts I believe it transcends mere knowledge acquisition with at least one key ingredient, a deep sense of longing. And this, while always a challenge, is most helped by a pastoral teacher whose heart is heavy with gospel saturation so that with everything they do the blood of Christ is dripping everywhere.

More on this later…

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My Conversation with Dr. Mike Licona

To listen to my conversation on SoundCloud, click here

I had the privilege of working with Dr. Licona on two courses for Mobile Ed, and interviewing him for the podcast. He has a great sense of humor, and though he’s a leading apologist, theologian and New Testament scholar, is incredibly down to earth.

I really appreciate scholars who want to engage in pastoral care, and Mike is the kind of guy who cares deeply about people, who doesn’t research for research’s sake, but wants to help people with their faith. I enjoyed my time with him immensely, and I hope you enjoy our conversation.

My Conversation with Dr. Keith Reeves and Dr. Dana Harris

(If you would like to listen on SoundCloud, you can here)

I was in studio with Dr. Keith Reeves last year, filming a course on a Biblical Theology of Wealth for Mobile Ed. He was a very kind man, a very capable New Testament scholar, and in no short supply of wisdom in matters of business. A rare and helpful mix. I enjoyed working with him, and learned much from him. Dana Harris was in the second of two video studios at Faithlife that we use for Mobile Ed purposes. My colleague, Daniel, worked with Dr. Harris and recorded a course on the Theology of the Book of Hebrews.

Because our lunches all together were warm and conversational, we decided to interview them both at the same time for the podcast. They both displayed a great care for their students in conversation, and I wanted to take the interview in a practical direction. I found their advice to students on financial issues and regarding the challenges of discerning one’s call to ministry very insightful and wise. If you have questions about those things, or know someone who does, this conversation will be helpful. Enjoy.