In a recent book on the state of education and the Knowledge of God, The State of the University: Academic Knowledges and the Knowledge of God(Blackwell. 2007), Stanley Hauerwas decries the lack of seriousness with which theological education is undertaken and perceived. His comparison with another “education” is revealing:
“The intellectual and moral seriousness of medical education compared to seminary education, I think, can be attributed to a set of cultural presuppositions that are crucial for how we understand the training of students for medicine and for the ministry. Quite simply, no one believes in our day that an inadequately trained priest might damage their salvation; but people do believe an inadequately trained doctor can hurt them. Thus people are much more concerned about who their doctor may be than who is their priest. That such is the case, of course, indicates that no matter how seriously we may think of ourselves as Christians we may well be living lives that betray our conviction that God matters.” (p. 46)
Hauerwas’ statement probes deeply in a lot of directions. For our purposes it is worth asking how and why Evangelicalism might have limited both the intellectual seriousness and moral seriousness of theological education. Rather than trying to answer those questions here and now, I would rather just reflect on the possibility. For if Hauerwas is correct, even if only in part, just asking the question is a step in the right direction.