Friday, March 23, 2012

Classics in Theological Education

The following short story is from a personal journal entry on November 29, 2007, half way through my seminary experience.

Imagine you are a recent college graduate on the hunt for the perfect seminary. One day you arrive on campus a starry-eyed prospective student to behold a community buzzing with activity. Students are madly rushing to class and engaging in furious theological debate. You ask your tour guide what all the commotion is about, and he simply says, “It must be the faculty.”

Your curiosity peaked, you open the double doors to the academic building and take a peak into one of the classrooms. Standing along the back you notice that the professor seems to be dressed oddly, and is using an interpreter. “Who is that teaching?” you inquire. “Augustine of Hippo. He heads our theology department. John Calvin was recently added to our faculty as well. The students just love them.” You shoot back a quizzical look at the tour guide and continue the tour, not knowing whether to check his pulse or your own.

The next classroom has a much different flavor. Two monkish looking teachers are sitting in the corner with a small he Brd of student around them. “And who is teaching this class?” you ask. “Catherine of Siena?” “No, she's actually on sabbatical. Our current professors of spiritual formation are Ignatius of Loyola and Benedict of Nursia.” You shake your head, blink your eyes, and pinch yourself to make sure you're not dreaming.

Fluttering with excitement, you nearly run down the hall to the next classroom. Within you see Blaise Pascal teaching apologetics, with C.S. Lewis on deck as a guest lecturer. Astonished you fly down the hall to see Martin Luther King Jr. teaching theological ethics, and next door you see Gregory the gey team teaching a course on leadership. “What kind of a seminary is this?” you wonder. You pull out the course schedule to see if all the teachers are of this caliber, and you discover that Martin Luther teaches Greek exegesis, Ben-Hadad the Hebrew Scriptures, Plato and Thomas Aquinas teaching philosophy, Eusebius teaching early church history, Will Durant medieval and reformation history, Mother Teresa lectures on urban ministry, and the Apostle Paul teaches intercultural ministry along with his assistant William Carey.

Overwhelmed you shove the list back into your book bag, get a glass of water, and plop down at chapel. Yet before you can ask your tour guide what's going on, dozens of oddly dressed Jews come singing and dancing into chapel. “You're going to love this,” your tour guide quips. As scores of bearded men, who you discover to be Levites, pile in, you behold King David himself leading worship. The harp and lyre, the melody and lyrics, the commotion of prayer lift your imagination to a height that border exhaustion. After worship, Barnabas (from the mentoring department) introduces the preacher, none other than John Chrysostom – golden mouth himself. Enraptured by the legendary rhetoric and passion of the prince of preachers you near the point of complete elation.

Marching out of the chapel, you pull your tour guide outside and fanatically inquire, “What kind of a place is this? How do you keep these guys under control?” “Oh, don't worry, our President has a way with words. Actually, many even call him the Word.”

“I have one last question. How do I get into this school?”

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