What is the future of theological education? Dr. Ligon Duncan casts a vision for the future of theological education, highlighting the importance of a personal setting in preparation for ministry.
There are many people today asking the question, “What is the future of theological education?” One of the reasons they’re doing that is because we see so many institutions that have been involved in theological education for many, many decades—and even some of them over a century—that are closing or shrinking or having to rethink how they’re going to do theological education in the future. Another reason is we live in a day and age where a whole variety of delivery systems have arisen for providing teaching, especially digital and online delivery systems.
The more personal theological education is, the better it is.Well, here’s the thing. In the end, we are always going to need personal theological education, because the more personal theological education is, the better it is. We need more than mere information. We need people loving other people, teaching those people, exampling for them what the Christian life looks like and how to go about the Christian ministry in order for people to be adequately prepared for gospel ministry. You need to see the truth lived out in life and in the classroom, even in the way that we talk about theological truth and even in the way that we convey true teaching about the Word of God. The professor is actually sharing his life with the student. That has to be done personally. And that’s why I believe that residential theological education is more important than ever before. We live in a world where people are awash in screens and drowned in digital information. And in that context, personal theological education is more valuable than ever.
We aim to give that at Reformed Theological Seminary. That’s why we have residential theological education in multiple cities all across the United States and around the world. It’s one of the reasons that even though we are cutting edge in what we provide in terms of online and digital delivery of theological education, we know that it is actually the personal touch that makes those things most effective. That’s what we need in our day and age: an opportunity for people to share their lives with one another, to be shaped by knowing a person’s character as well as their teaching.
That’s what we need in our day and age: an opportunity for people to share their lives with one another, to be shaped by knowing a person’s character as well as their teaching, by seeing the means of grace ministered in the context of seminary in the church. This is how disciples are formed. This is how those who disciple disciples are formed. It’s the way that Jesus did it 2000 years ago. It’s the way that Paul did it 2000 years ago. By God’s grace, we aim to do theological education that way today.