Friday, October 06, 2006

Seminaries in a Post-Christian Landscape

I have spent the last few days in England, and have been hanging around one of the theological colleges of the Church of England. It has been good to interact with the students and faculty, I have enjoyed the liveliness of the worship in the chapel, and the sense of mission that so many of the people have here.

Britain is far from an easy setting in which to do ministry, so it is encouraging to see so many gifted men and women who are willing to offer their all in the service of Christ, who gave his all for them. What has struck me about this place is a determined integration of right believing with right practice, and of scholarship that is rooted in a Kingdom-driven approach to ministry.

I was chatting the other morning with the principal, somehow we got onto the subject of monastic models and I found myself talking about Thomas Cahill's marvelous book, How The Irish Saved Civilization, that made such a splash in the USA a few years back. The thesis of the book, if you remember, is that when the Roman Empire collapsed Ireland became the refuge for Christian learning, many of the treasures of the ancient world finding their way into the various monasteries that existed there.

After a century or so, as the worst of the "dark ages" began to ameliorate themselves, it was monks who spread out from the Emerald Isle and took back to Europe with them both learning and the gospel of Jesus Christ. Many of the great monastic foundations that became beacons of hope and centers of learning throughout the northern part of Europe can trace their origins either directly or indirectly to Irish missionary monks.

How The Irish Saved Civilization is not a book that made it in the UK as it did in the USA (Surprise, surprise), but as I outlined its theme the principal's face lit up and he said something like, "Wow, the theological college model we have pursued for so long is one that is broadly Benedictine, but a Celtic model makes a great deal more sense for this day and age, with the seminary being the base from which mission is undertaken as people go out from there into the hostile culture around them."

I thoroughly agree with him. I believe that in some ways we are entering a different kind of "dark age," and that in the economy of God there is a need for places that will stand firm, remain faithful, preserve the deposit of the faith, and then communicate by word and deed the message of salvation to those around them. Could it be, I wonder, that the seminaries could be the Celtic monasteries of this age?

Yet it is obvious that not all our seminaries are doing the job in the way that they should, whether you measure them against a Celtic or a Benedictine model. The majority of the seminaries of the Episcopal Church are a very mixed bag, many having either modified or seemingly turned their backs on the undergirding essence of the deposit of the faith. The question is whether they are able to be these beacons of hope that are required. Given the performance of the leadership of ECUSA in the last few years I have to suggest that most of them are the reverse.

That reminded me of an illustration used many years ago by Richard Lovelace, a Presbyterian, and then Professor of Church History at Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary. In one of his books, where he was talking about spiritual renewal, he likened a seminary to a garden sprinkler. As the sprinkler swivels around and around the water that gets sprayed over lawn or garden brings rich greenery and colorful life. However, it only takes a few drops of acid to get into the mix and an entirely different result is the outcome.

Lovelace commented that while some seminaries have a spiritual dynamic that is like water being sprayed out from the sprinkler, enriching the lives of the churches around them, there are some seminaries who produce acidic water that will ultimately destroy all those who, as it were, nestle in their shade.

As I look at the woes of the church to which I belong I cannot but confess that the seminaries have played a huge part in our demise. Acid rather than the bracing fresh water of the Gospel has been their product. So, if we are moving into a dark age, then whatever strategies we puruse, it behooves us to do something significant about seminaries so that they might be centers from which mission, ministry, and "civilization" go forth.

5 comments:

Victor said...

We are the best of the best in condominiums and we have the best service. Also we have the best view toward the sea, be one of the fortunate in enjoying our installations.
Great investment opportunity at Costa Rica Pacific Coast, Preconstruction condos in costa rica ,
Condo sales in costa rica, Retirement property in costa rica. Visit us for more info at: http://www.ramadajaco.com/

Anonymous said...

Hello it seems to me a very pretty pagina and very entrenidad, has a good service for all those people that visits many congratulations by a good site
I invite all that interested person to know a little on my Web site

Condos In Costa Rica.

What is a condominium?
A condominium is a type ownership where certain parts of the property (the units) are owned by individuals, and certain parts (the common elements) are owned in common by the unit owners, all of whom are members of the condominium corporation (the organization responsible for the operation of the condominium). Ownership of a condominium means you own the specific unit plus individual interest in the common property. You have ownership over all space and improvements within the walls of your unit.
It is very important to know that you are buying the condominium building first and then the unit, so make sure you like the building and its financial position. I will assist you with this.
What are condo fees and are there property taxes for condos as well?
A condo fee is a fee that each owner is charged to cover the expenses of the complex and individual unit. For example, in a high-rise condominium, the condo fee includes all utilities, plus building insurance, management and reserve fund contributions. When the plan is registered at Land Titles for a condominium, a separate title is created for each unit. And shown on each title is the owners share in the common property, which is expressed in "unit factors". This "unit factor" can be based on the units proportionate square footage or the initial market price in comparison to the rest of the complex. A budget is prepared for a condominium complex, and the fees are allocated according to the unit factor of each condominium unit.
There are also property taxes for condominiums, and they are also calculated based on the unit factor.
For but information it visits my Web site the following direction http://www.ramadajaco.com

thama077 said...

Hello it seems to me a very pretty page and very entertainmet, has a good service for all those people that visits many congratulations by a good site
I invite all that interested person to know a little on my Web site
PRECONSTRUCTION CONDOS IN COSTA RICA
Purchasing a condominium before the construction begins is a way for developers to get the working capitol they need for their projects and for investors to save money on the finished product. Many times investors are able to resell the condominium for a profit before the work is complete, and in some cases condos have sold multiple times with multiple profits before there anyone actually took delivery of the real estate.

This practice is very common in Costa Rica as it provides economic incentives by means of low priced, preconstruction deals to the client, which is mutually benefitial to the developer. The precaution that we take and recommend to our clients, is to be sure that the developer who is building the project, has a proven track record either abroad, or more importantly, here in Costa Rica. Ask your agent to give you some background on the developer, and the team involved in the project including the architect, builder, and developer
For but information it visits my Web site the following direction http://www.ramadajaco.com

Stivel Velasquez said...

Are seminary professors churchless agnostics? Purveyors of the culture's latest fads and fancies? More evidence of the decadence of mainline churches? Some recent media reports on the molders of student minds have painted this picture. march madness But 115 syllabi of basic courses in theology from schools around the country tell a different story. They are part of information I gathered from colleagues in systematics who shared what they are doing in required and often year-long courses, and where they believe we are going in theology.
http://www.enterbet.com

pedro velasquez said...

This book presents a new interpretation of the development of early medieval landscapes. It stresses the importance of political and religious ideology in both the Sportsbook 'Celtic' west and the 'Anglo-Saxon' east. Using innovative new research methods, and making expert use of archaeology, place-name evidence, historical sources and land-use patterns, it challenges previous work on the subject by suggesting that the two regions have much in common. march madness Its central argument is that Christian ideology played a key role in the formation of the early medieval landscape.
http://www.canadacasino.com