Borderlands of Theological Education

(Rowman & Littlefield, 2022)

Co-edited by Joshua B. Davis and Deirdre Good

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Traditional patterns of educating and training clergy face not only crises of increasing cost and declining enrollment, but also a crisis of identity, since at present it is the academy, not the church, that shapes formation for ministry. This collection of essays outlines a history and a new vision of the church as the primary location of ministerial formation for the future of theological education.

> Listen to five podcast conversations with book contributors hosted by co-editors.



“As a professor at a traditional, residential, denominational seminary where almost all of the students attend full-time and are preparing for extended careers in ordained ministry, I read this provocative and counter-cultural volume with considerable interest. Whether you agree with their various arguments or not, the authors’ unsparing analysis of the multiple challenges—pedagogical, ecclesial, social, financial, historical, intellectual, ecological, and even moral—now confronting such seminaries and the denominations they serve is required reading for all those engaged in contemporary theological education.”

— Robert MacSwain, The School of Theology, The University of the South (Sewanee)


“The condition of institutions educating ministers for the mainline American churches is perilous: enrollment plummets, funds evaporate, schools close or merge, and the very nature of ministry is debated. This collection gathers thoughtful and challenging essays analyzing the crisis and suggesting ways to surmount it. It opens important avenues for debate, discussion, and reform.”

— Milton McC. Gatch, Union Theological Seminary, emeritus


“These insightful essays speak to the important topic of the role and work of the academy in the formation of clergy leaders for churches and our local communities. They help the reader become aware of the current crises in both theological education and our churches through a rich historical and contemporary analysis. What is more – rather than mere critique – they offer innovative strategies to address the commonplace problems that so many of our theological institutions face. An insightful and captivating book.”

— Pamela Lightsey, Meadville Lombard Theological School


“This book boldly and thoroughly analyzes and discusses multiple factors contributing to current crises facing theological education. Essayists delve into these constituents and altogether offer incisive, and insightful coverage. Gathered in one volume, these essays offer a conference worth of thoughts that, read individually or interactively, provide to Church and academic leaders, priests, pastors, faculty, lay leaders, and interested persons ways of understanding these factors. The essays reflect deep concern, respect, and most importantly hope for a transformed future for theological education.”

— Althea Spencer Miller, Drew University Theological School


“Too many efforts to reimagine mainline Protestant theological education are thinly disguised strategies of commodification or expressions of half-baked theology. In contrast, the authors gathered between the covers of Borderlands of Theological Education demonstrate the need for rich, multifaceted, and intersecting discussions about theology, leadership, social change, economics, ecology, multiculturalism, and indeed the very character of ministry itself. Seminary faculties, administrators, boards, and denominational partners should consider the analyses and proposals offered here.”

— Matthew L. Skinner, Luther Seminary