A Most Interesting Question

Not long ago, my 18 year old son Riley asked me the most interesting question: “Dad, why didn’t you go to a Divnity School?”

That’s not a typical question that anyone asks, much less an 18 year old.

But after pondering it for a couple of days, I figured out why he asked what he asked. As some of you know, I did my undergraduate studies at a university known for being rather selective (the tennis coach had a large say in my admission).

Yet I studied for ministry at an independent, stand-alone school called Asbury Seminary in Kentucky.

Back to Riley. As he explored colleges this year (he’s headed to Chapel Hill this fall), he discovered that many of the most elite undergraduate universities in the country also have graduate schools of theology. Places like Harvard Divinity School, Yale Divinity School, Duke Divinity School, Vanderbilt Divinity School, and Emory University’s Candler School of Theology.

So when you’re 18 and you’ve been told by your culture, your family, and your peers that, when it comes to education, prestige = excellence, then Riley’s question becomes oh-so-logical. In fact, when I told him that Duke Divinity School is actually Methodist, he said, “Oh that would have been sweet!”

What Riley didn’t know, however, is the history and trajectory of most of those university-related schools of theology and the subsequent call for and rise of independent theological seminaries.

So to answer his question, I told him a little story and made him a little chart. Which I’ll share with you tomorrow.