Friday, October 14, 2005

Is there a theological brain drain?

I couldn't help smiling to see my name in a letter in the Church Times. It's not often that that happens:
Is there a theological brain drain?
By Canon Nicholas Henshall

Sir, — Your recent extract, concerning the Revd Sarah Coakley, from Rupert Shortt’s book God’s Advocates (Features, 9 September) illuminated an accelerating trend in the UK. We are losing our most able theologians to America.

I am no academic, but just looking around people I know on the move at the moment, I see Dr Sam Wells, one of the finest young moral theologians, and Dr Mark Goodacre, one of the leading English New Testament scholars, both off to Duke University.

It is not that the whole missionary enterprise depends on theologians. But unless challenging and deep theology is taught and experienced, a Church seeking to preach the gospel in a post-Christendom world will simply end up mouthing easy platitudes. (After all, there is quite a lot of evidence of this already.)

If British universities can no longer afford to teach theology, the Church of England’s preference for placing theological colleges near universities cannot solve the educational issues of the next few decades.

Training theologians and then creating the exciting and challenging contexts in which they can do their most creative work may seem like an impossible dream in the current intellectual climate in this country. The question is whether we have a future as a missionary Church without such investment.
Derby Cathedral Centre
18/19 Iron Gate
Derby DE1 2GP
I am a couple of weeks behind, because this appeared -- I think -- at the end of September. I used to look at the Church Times whenever I could, but as with many things British, like tea, black pudding and cricket, I am on a limited diet here.

1 comment:

crystal said...

Is the feeling about Theology/Religion different in the UK then here?
A couple of months ago, an English Jesuit friend posted a comment on his blog about a Guardian article ... Justin Cartwright writes about the meaning of life or, rather, its meaninglessness. Religious belief he sees as somewhere between pathetic and pernicious. What strikes me? I think its the tone of the piece: it sounds like its pointing out the obvious to those who should know better. It's another sign of the intellectual marginalisation of belief in the UK — for which people of faith must bear the responsibility.