Jesus taught his disciples in the outdoors, without a prescribed curriculum. His lessons were passed on by way of oral tradition before being written down.
The way things are going, mainline seminaries may be returning to such informal models of theological training. At the very least, this is a time of great uncertainty in theological education, a time when students are more diverse, religious identities are in flux, financial support from denominations is down and education expenses continue to go up.
As was reported in these pages April 8, a number of seminaries have taken dramatic steps to keep their programs alive, often by making alliances with other institutions. Seabury-Western Theological Seminary, an Episcopal school in Evanston, Illinois, discontinued its M.Div. program and is considering how to offer the degree “in another format.”