September 21, 2015
Some of Sioux Falls Seminary’s faculty and administration have both written and taught lessons related to the topic of theological education, its history, and its biblical foundations. As we look at the history of theological education, especially in light of the Great Commission, we continue a series through which we will share some of these works. This week we conclude the Rev. Dr. Randy Tschetter’s adaptation of chapter two of his doctoral thesis, titled Toward a Biblical View of Theological Education.
Tom Houston suggests that the apostles (“the twelve”) were the first individuals to receive any kind of Christian theological education. Jesus taught “the twelve” how they could or would or should “carry on his work when he was gone.” The training which Jesus modeled included “teaching” when he was with them and “experience” as he sent them out to preach and heal. “They were to learn that they were not just objects of (Jesus) teaching,” but “they were to become subjects with his teaching in their mouths.” The “critical task of teaching and training people for the work of God’s kingdom in Jesus’ day has not become any less critical today.”
Another important issue for theological education is Jesus’ teaching methodology. Following Houston’s observations: (1) Jesus taught by example. He spent time with them and “taught nothing he did not demonstrate.” (2) Jesus also taught his disciples in the context of their daily lives – often in response to questions about what Jesus said or what the disciples had seen. (3) In his parables, Jesus observed his audience and context, and taught about subjects that were familiar to the disciples and others. (4) Jesus left much to his hearers. He allowed them to ask what he meant rather than just telling them directly. (5) On several occasions Jesus’ teaching was in response to those who debated with him or opposed him. (6) Jesus also taught progressively – by stages. (6) And, he taught by experience – sending his disciples out to put into practice what he had told them.
Houston describes much of Paul’s writing as “a picture of an interactive exchange, not just to share information but to help them (hearers) adjust their lives to the demands of the truth that he penned.” Paul found “an existing medium to convey his theology.” Letters were relatively cost effective and the content of the letters could be shared live in the various churches in a wide geographical area by the bearer of the letter. “It really was distance learning!”
Throughout the Bible, “Learning occurred in diverse settings through participant observation, nonformal discussion, action-reflection, and direct instruction.”
With no specific scriptural model, the task of delivering theological education continues to be one that is filled with challenges and opportunities as administrators, educators, and students seek to be led along by the Holy Spirit.