Proper theological education is of strategic importance for the future of Christianity. So is ecumenical formation for the future of active Christian cooperation, says a world report on the future of theological education.
The key issues were highlighted by Dr Dietrich Werner, coordinator of the Ecumenical Theological Education programme of the World Council of Churches (ETE/WCC), and expressed in a World Study Report on Theological Education released in Nairobi recently.
The 90-page report subtitled "Challenges and Opportunities for Theological Education in the 21st Century – Pointer for a New International Debate on Theological Education" was produced by an international study group as part of the Edinburgh 2010 process during the last 12 months.
The report was released at a meeting of the newly created Advisory Committee on Theology, Ecumenical Formation and Interfaith Issues of the All African Conference of Churches which brought together around 20 key representatives of theological education and regional associations of theological schools in Africa.
Their goal was to start a new initiative for cooperation in theological education in Africa and for the production of new theological textbooks on crucial themes for African Christianity. The report has been published in a Joint Information Service of the World Conference of Associations of Theological Schools (WOCATI) and ETE/WCC.
The world report on theological education – as well as accompanying papers – is available in a shorter and an extended version. It includes case studies on various regions of the world and key recommendations for the future of theological education.
The report states that "theological education is the seedbed for the renewal of churches, their ministries, and their commitment to the unity of the church. If theological education systems are neglected or not given their due prominence, over the following decades the church will experience a decline in the competence of church leadership and in their capacity for ecumenical and interfaith dialogue and for dialogue between church and society."
It has become clear, say the authors, that ecumenical learning "is not just the addition of elements of ecumenical theology into the curriculum, but the key question is whether and to what extent the basic orientation of theological education reflects the fundamental relational nature of being the church, its vocation to live with other Christian communities and with the wider human community."
See the World Study Report on Theological Education, short version: