The crisis of theological education ultimately stems from Christians who aim to become professional leaders in a world where Christianity itself is increasingly deinstitutionalized, and its leaders are rapidly becoming deprofessionalized.
A postmodern theological education is both relevant and irrelevant in the same breath. Or to put the matter more mischievously, it has to steep itself in its own irrelevant classical particularities in such a strategic manner that it is able to engage, critique, and transform the culture in a way that is genuinely relevant.
Theological education is comparable to what in the computer business is known as network engineering. A network engineer needs to understand how the guts of a computer work, but even more importantly, she or he is required to design and implement novel, creative architectures for sharing and processing complex configurations of information with different spatial distributions and topographies. Similarly, someone with a seminary degree needs to know how to read and interpret the Bible (even in its original languages), to be familiar with the history of Christianity, and to have facility in the kind of faith-based intellectual reflection we know as theology. But more importantly, they should understand how to begin to deploy those base competencies in a multitude of interpenetrable contexts.
Jesus said “go and make disciples of all nations,” not “go find a good location to start churches.” The difference is not all that subtle. As disciple-making disciples we need to be gearing our theological studies toward becoming makeover artists in redesigning our Father’s house, not plodding toward one day becoming junior partners in the management of his firm.