I hate to pour cold water on colleges and universities at this time of the year when joyful commencement celebrations are happening all over the world, but . . . . Where are the replacements for this year’s grad’s coming from? Who will fill their shoes? Sadly, this year’s commencement will be the last for some schools. And the implications of this downward trend for seminaries is ominous.
In an “Exciting and Important Update” email to alumni/ae on March 29, Cornerstone University President Gerson Moreno-Riaño announced that Grand Rapids Theological Seminary will now be known as Cornerstone Theological Seminary. Promotional hype and nay-saying aside, the new name on the sign will mean next to nothing unless it marks a renewed administrative commitment to promoting the seminary’s historic values, identity, and mission.
In this post we look at Competence-Based Theological Education (CBTE), which is probably the most promising of emerging approaches to theological education. CBTE just might be the way the churches take back the seminaries. At the very least CBTE will require churches and seminaries to get a lot more serious about working together for the kingdom of God.
Hopefully many will engage with Matt Ayars’ thought-provoking ideas about theological education. Ongoing conversation is crucial, all the more so because it’s not really a conversation about the future of seminaries. It’s a conversation about the future of the church’s mission in the world, and how the church can more faithfully serve the reigning Lord Jesus Christ by teaching people all over the globe to observe all that he has commanded for all the days until the end of the age.
When I came to GRTS in 1986, a high berm pierced by a rather narrow entrance separated the college campus from the busy East Beltline highway. The berm was installed to shield the campus from traffic noise, but some saw it as symbolic of the school’s desire to be separate from the community. Later, the main campus entrance was widened and the berm was lowered. In my mind at least, the new landscaping pictured positive developments in the school’s vision of its constituency.
I’m concerned that the berm is being rebuilt . . .
Many seminaries are in serious trouble. In fact, it may be the end of the seminary as we know it. Despite declining seminaries, Jesus’ promise to build the church still holds true. How can seminaries better align themselves with this promise?