This article makes a good and true point, although the empathetic part of me suspects that evangelical candidates for ordination face a similar fear of rejection by their committees.
I’m becoming more and more convinced that mainline Protestant denominations are neither conservative/evangelical nor liberal/progressive in their theological orientation (much to the chagrin of conspiracy theorists on both sides), but are trying to hold both perspectives together under the umbrella of their true agenda: maintaining the survival of the institution.
Theologically, this means trying to occupy the Barthian-Niebuhrian middle ground that dissatisfies evangelicals and liberals alike. Evangelicals fear that the denomination is pandering to political correctness at the expense of gospel truth. Liberals fear that the denomination’s appeasement of cantankerous reactionaries is blunting the edge of prophetic witness.
My experience of the process left me with the sense that my committee and examiners just wanted to know that I was able to articulate that middle-ground perspective using the language of our denomination’s polity and historical confessions.
I think the main thrust of this article is true, but it could equally apply to our sisters and brothers on the evangelical end of the spectrum.
Reblogged from Crystal St. Marie Lewis:
“Many denominations require candidates to obtain a graduate degree involving work in the areas of theology and philosophy. In those graduate programs, professors spend countless hours training students to think outside the theological box, only for their ordination committees to demand that they put God (and their capacity for exploration) back inside the box. Seminaries are often free and open spaces where people are encouraged to draw their own conclusions about sacred matters. Yet, students endure rejection after the academic stage of their ordination processes–ironically for drawing unapproved conclusions.”