The Biggest Challenge for Theological Educators

Greg Forster | January 5, 2017

Theological education, even on a good day, is a hard job. It always has been. Today, however, theological educators in Western cultures are facing a new challenge. Deep biblical knowledge and interpretation are not widely seen—even by pastors—as having a transformative effect on the way people live. This popular disconnect between knowing your Bible and the way you live is leading us toward a crisis in theological education.

Christians in Western cultures mostly think that to “know your Bible” means one of two things: either you know some abstract, historical system of doctrine really well, or you can ace Bible trivia quizzes (“For 10 points, which of these prophets was a judge?”). Neither of these models of what it means to know your Bible, though, means much for how you’ll live your life tomorrow morning.

Beyond Bible Trivia

Older models of theological knowledge connected knowing to doing in tangible ways. Augustine, for example, writes that the purpose of studying the Bible is to learn to love God and neighbor. He even says embracing an intellectually incorrect interpretation of Scripture that nonetheless leads you to love God and neighbor is like going the long way round on a journey since you missed the shorter road. It’s…

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