Last night I went to the first Presbyterian Research Network meeting. Rev Dr Susan Jones gave a talk about theological training in the Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand. She discussed the idea that theological training in the university is disjointed from personal formation for ministry. The alternative, of having theological training solely in seminaries, would have grave implications for the authenticity of lay theological training. Where would I stand? Would my training be suspect?
Such questions prompted me to look at famous lay theologians in history to show that my intended vocation is valid and that one can be a theologian without being an ordained minister or priest. What did I find?
Wikipedia has a category for Lay theologians. Not an impressive list. Nor was this (from Gemma Tulud Cruz) uplifting: “When lay theologians graduate, the next problem they have to contend with is marginalization with regard to job opportunities or in their status as theology teachers.
But here are some I can admire and look up to (even I don’t agree with everything they wrote):
- Rudolf Bultmann
- C. S. Lewis
- Nikolai Berdyaev
- Jacques Ellul
- William Stringfellow
- Philipp Melanchthon
- SÃ¸ren Kierkegaard
That should be enough to keep me inspired for a bit longer. Add more names in comments if you know any.