Comments: More criticism for Resourcing Ministerial Education

I wonder if there is a connection between the proposals suggested in this report (and the protest against them), and the fact, mentioned on these pages over a year ago by Martyn Percy, that for the first time since the Reformation, the C of E does not have a single diocesan bishop with experience as a teacher of theology at university level?
There certainly seems to be a trend towards practitioners of church growth, parish development etc, and away from higher theological qualifications, and none of the three women appointed as bishops reverses that trend.
It would certainly not be healthy to have all, or even most, of the bishops to be drawn from the ranks of professional theologians, but something does seem wrong when there is not a single one.

Posted by Dr Edward Prebble at Sunday, 29 March 2015 at 7:07pm GMT

From the experience of the Presbyterian Church USA, this kind of move creates a two tier clergy, the one asks for less compensation and pushes out the fully educated clergy. Watched this happen over the past 30 years in the US.

Posted by Rev. Susan Haseltine at Sunday, 29 March 2015 at 10:01pm GMT

Theology is dying. It is becoming divorced from church life, with ideas about the 'post-secular' and language... Interestingly, there is a debate among Unitarians about training via the medium of Christianity and then dropping it as ministers go to congregations turning into religious humanists, semi-Pagans, easterns etc. and at the same time people in more orthodox quarters learn much at the seminary and either willingly drop it for cliches and beliefs ordinary folks gave up long ago or find no place for the seminary insights and intellectual methods. At the same time, whilst theology asks other subjects for reference points other subjects seek no insights from theology. It's pretty dead, therefore.

Posted by Pluralist at Sunday, 29 March 2015 at 11:29pm GMT

I see that 'Reform' is hosting a much-advertised conference, under the banner of the expectation of the demise of the Church of England should the new reforms be put into effect.

I note that the Speakers at their conference will be Bishop Pete Broadbent and The Revd. Ian Paul - both Evangelical contenders for argumentation on this tricky subject. It should be an interesting exercise.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Sunday, 29 March 2015 at 11:53pm GMT

Father Ron Smith, I think the details are not quite right. It is Fulcrum that is doing a debate, and the topic is "Reform and Renewal..." Nothing to do with the organisation 'Reform'.
To quote the Fulcrum website:
Our Fourth Pivot Point is on Thursday April 16th.

As we continue to think about Growing God's Kingdom we will be learning about and discussing General Synod’s raft of plans for Reform & Renewal on Developing Discipleship, Resourcing the Future, Resourcing Ministerial Education, and Simplifying. We have The Revd Dr Ian Paul and Bishop Pete Broadbent as our guest speakers.

In a change from earlier Pivot Points we are starting earlier in the evening - 6pm for 6.30pm - and so ending at 8pm (although some may wish to head to a local pub to continue conversation). We are meeting at the St James the Less Centre (next to St James the Less where we held the first Pivot Point) just off the Vauxhall Bridge Road and a few minutes walk from Pimlico tube station.

Posted by Christopher Hobbs at Monday, 30 March 2015 at 7:55am BST

Father Ron - It's a forthcoming Fulcrum conference; 'reform' is merely part of the title. Please see

Posted by Jenny Petersen at Monday, 30 March 2015 at 9:05am BST

What the Archbishops (and the Wash House) simply do not get is the fundamental principle that effective mission and effective evangelism is rooted in rigorous theological foundations and the ability to use those theological sources responsibly, with imagination and resourcefulness. The Church of England's distinctive vocation has always been to be scholarly AND pastoral AND missionary (not either/or). This letter from our leading theologians must not be allowed to sink without trace (though attempts will be made to bury it). Whatever claims are made in RME, this is manifestly finance-driven. Surely, we have seen the pitiful consequence of more than two decades of finance-driven decisions about training for ordination, as levels of theological literacy among the parish clergy have plummeted, and increasing numbers struggle to give a coherent and engaging account of the Christian tradition 'in the pulpit' - let alone in wider society.

By the way, it is not quite true to say that there are no theological teachers at university level in the House of Bishops. Steve Croft is a former Warden of Cranmer Hall (let the reader understand).

Posted by Simon R at Monday, 30 March 2015 at 9:18am BST

Christopher Cocksworth (Coventry) was also a theological teacher at university level.

Posted by Christopher Hobbs at Monday, 30 March 2015 at 5:49pm BST

To Simon R and Christopher Hobbs:
I (and Martyn Percy) stand corrected.

Posted by Dr Edward Prebble at Monday, 30 March 2015 at 7:44pm BST

As was Rob Innes (Europe) - also university of Durham

Posted by andy at Monday, 30 March 2015 at 10:53pm BST

I think we need to distinguish between 'University' and 'University Level' here. Robert Innes and Steve Croft were on the staff of Cranmer Hall and taught within that Anglican theological college. They probably had 'associate' status in the Durham theology faculty. That is quite different to holding an academic post in a university theology faculty in its own right (e.g. Geoffrey Rowell at Oxford, Rowan Williams at Oxford and Cambridge, Kenneth Stevenson at Manchester, Stephen Sykes at Durham and Cambridge, Peter Selby at Durham). Martyn Percy and Edward Prebble need not rush too quickly to be corrected.

Nonetheless, the RME proposals, the resignation of Professor Sarah Coakley, and the letter from 17 Anglican priest-academics is a serious issue which cannot be ignored - particularly if questions surrounding the future of training institutions have been 'buried' in the report. It is worrying that there seems to be little engagement in this thread with the substance of the proposals.

Posted by Will Richards at Tuesday, 31 March 2015 at 9:59am BST

Sorry, Folks, for grossly misrepresenting FULCRUM, as being 'REFORM'. We all know that the reform of REFORM is not necessarily what it meant by the word itself.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Wednesday, 1 April 2015 at 12:48am BST
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