Excitement in Theological Education

Nothing could be more fundamental for theological education but I know of no writings on the subject. Excitement is somewhere between awe and fun, sharing characteristics of both but transcending each. It is a joyous agitation of spirit caused by God and truth on the one hand and possibilities on the other. It is at the root of theological education because good theological education only occurs when a student and a teacher form a relationship which acts as a bridge between them. Excitement – about God, ideas and truth, and about what can be done for God in this world – is the primary “goods and services” which passes across the bridge (in both directions).


Just as in missiology, the “Three Selfs” formula became a tired way of describing missiology because everyone claimed it whether they were doing good or bad mission, so the “three objectives” formula of theological education – that our aim is for the students to grow spiritually, academically and in practical service – has become tired and meaningless because of its current fog-inducing universality.  A key, perhaps the key, marker of excellence is not any of these things, it is excitement. Without this, theological education is inadequate. It passes on a distorted view of God, truth and the world, and is not worthy of its great themes. Accrediting agencies need to look above all for excitement.


So what implants the deep excitement and what triggers the surface enthusiasm? Here I must become more personal. For me there have been two things, ideas and people. We need to get excited about God and ideas related to Him and mission for Him – theology. If not, we should look for another job. And we need to get excited as teachers by the possibility of forming a bond with our students that becomes a vehicle for blessing them and influencing their lives and future ministry. To throw the stone in the pond that ripples out across God’s church as those they minister to, minister to others.


Surely we can be excited about that.

    • Cristian
    • February 12th, 2011

    Dear sir, I agree; theology without passion is just as good as teaching phylosophy – it leads to a bigger head and a smaller heart. When we’ve lost the enthusiasm powered by the Holy Spirit, we need to find our first love for Jesus once again. And with a burning love for Him, our information is contagious.

    • Campbell Hamilton
    • March 1st, 2011

    Excitement requires an emotional engagement, hence the importance of the relationship between teacher and student and the importance of the connection between the student and the subject. I fear that too often both of those can be undermined by a purely academic approach to the subject in question. Thank you Graham for stirring our minds and hearts by your excellent musings on various dimensions of the theological training spectrum, surely the most engaging of subjects dealing as it does with ministering people and the Living God.

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