Several people have linked to this interesting article, asking whether seminary education has a future. I haven't got time to write a full response - maybe after Easter - but I want to point out three sources of tension:
- there is a tension between forming priests and training theological academics. The latter has a part to play in the former but if the distinction is ever obscured then it is the training for the priesthood which comes off worse;
- there is a tension between academic theology and mystical theology, between an intellectual enterprise that can be pursued by people of any faith and of none, and the intellectual enterprise which is pursued within a self-reflective community of faith. It is essential for priests to be thoroughly trained in the latter, the former is much less essential;
- there is a tension between the residential formation of priests, allowing for the overview and shaping of a whole person, and the non-residential training of priests which, by default, must end up concentrating on what can be assessed at a distance. The latter is not the same as the former.
As with many things, I can't help but feel that the CofE suffers from confused thinking, backing into situations that it hasn't planned for and then becoming bewildered by the consequences.