I spent a day this week with a group of leaders from a network of churches in the UK who were discussing how best to teach theology across the movement. They went about it with a refreshing candour: “We have an anti-intellectual history—we need to embrace learning.” The discussion revolved around the questions of what should be included in an “in house” theological training programme and how it might most effectively be delivered.
The rather less practical question that kept going through my mind, however, was: What do we want this sort of programme to achieve? What is the guiding vision? Are we looking to theology to underpin our ecclesial structures and doctrinal commitments? Or do we need it to take us somewhere? In the context of the consultation that would probably not have been a very helpful contribution—the network in question already has a solid vision for the coming decade. But I want to explore a bit further here what we currently need theology to do in our churches.