March 15th, 2020


On clergy education

C.S. Lewis wrote, "I find that the uneducated Englishman is an almost total sceptic about History. I had expected he would disbelieve the Gospels because they contain miracles: but he really disbelieves them because they deal with things that happened 2000 years ago. He would disbelieve equally in the battle of Actium if he heard of it. To those who have had our kind of education, his state of mind is very difficult to realize. To us the Present has always appeared as one section in a huge continuous process. In his mind the Present occupies almost the whole field of vision. Beyond it, isolated from it, and quite unimportant, is something called 'The Old Days' -- a small, comic jungle in which highwaymen, Queen Elizabeth, knights-in-armour etc wander about. Then (strangest of all) beyond The Old Days comes a picture of 'Primitive Man'. He is 'Science', not 'history', and is therefore felt to be much more real than The Old Days. In other words, the Pre-historic is much more believed in than the Historic." ("Christian Apologetics" in God in the Dock, ed. Walter Hooper, Eerdman's 1970)

In designing any proper curriculum for the clergy, the need for a really good background in history stands out to me. I don't care whether the history one knows is from high school, college, seminary, or Course of Study, so long as the facts are acquired. An independent reading list to cover deficiencies might be a good thing. But the fact remains, unless you understand ancient history -- and a lot of it -- you can't make sense of the Bible. And unless you understand medieval and early modern history, you can't explain why there are so many denominations and what makes ours stand out.

I'm not just talking "Church History" courses. I'm talking general history, Western Civ, and all that. We can fill in the Church History at some formal point in clergy education (COS, Seminary, Reading Lists), but considering how poorly history is taught at the high school level, and how sparse the requirements for learning history are at the undergraduate level, I'm concerned that too many clergy (and I'm not just talking LLPs here) just don't know what they need to know.

Checking off the requirements

For grins, I got down the Boy Scout Requirements book I finished my Eagle under (1969 edition). I joined Scouts from Cubs in October, 1964. My Eagle Board of Review was in September, 1970. Anyway, I thought I'd compare what we had to do back in the day to what kids have to do today. There've been a few changes.Collapse )