Wednesday, 27 June 2007

Follow-up on "Another Sick Project": Character Formation and Theological Education

In my earlier post on June 24, 2007 (Another "Sick Project"), I raised the issue concerning the quality of some of the Malaysian government building projects and the quality of theological education. In subsequent discussions, Alex Tang raised the issue of Christian formation as the goal of theological education, and I responded by raising the following two questions:
  1. Is there a close correlation between quality theological education and character building?

  2. The better the quality of theological education, will this translate to better spiritual formation and character building?

Alex subsequently picked up these questions and did some reflections on the correlation between quality theological education and character building. Read the rest of his post, "Does quality theological education produces character?"

I think Alex is right on target in his reasoning. I do agree that theological education is not merely about impartation of knowledge for the sake of knowledge or simply an exercise in intellectual stimulation. The GPA is not everything - as jokingly suggested by someone in the seminary chapel recently that those who get straight As might not make good pastors while those C students turn out to be the best pastors (so, am I a good pastor? hmmmm..).

I guess what is crucial is holistic training - and this raises another question: what constitutes holistic training within a community of believers?

Ultimately, how can we hold the two - excellence in scholarship and christian formation - in balanced tension? Or can we?


Alex Tang said...

hi kar yong,

That is the million dollar question. Or if you allow me to rephrase, can we have a curriculum that integrates spiritual formation with academic excellence without sacrificing one or the other thus creating a win-win situation?

I believe it is being attempted in some of the theological institutions. Brian Hill, Australian educator, monograph Spirituality in Theological Education is worth reading.

Again it depends on how committed the leaders of the theological institutions. Recently I was invited to do a silent retreat for students of the graduating class of a Singapore theological association and also offers spiritual direction.

Again it will call for a radical restructuring of theological education

Kar Yong said...

Thanks, Alex, for your thoughts. I've been thinking hard on these issues since I returned home last Oct. Look forward to exchanging some ideas with you when we next meet.