On first glance it combines two of the things I love most: 1) making lists (Top Five Tuesday – hello!) and 2) theological education.
So I dove into the site . . . and came away a bit more confused than energized.
Of the seventeen world changing schools listed, only one — Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California — could be called anything approaching “right of center” or “evangelical.”
The rest were a mix of:
* Highly respected, surprisingly orthodox schools with strong cache simply in their nameplate (Princeton and Duke);
* Left-of-center schools with long-standing denominational ties (Candler & Austin Presbyterian);
* Schools whose small enrollment make suggest World Changer might be something of an exaggeration (Sewanee & Andover-Newton);
* Far-left schools who graduate relatively few local church pastors and relatively more academics and advocates (Vanderbilt & Chicago).
I was of course disappointed that neither Asbury Seminary (my alma mater) nor Gordon-Conwell Seminary (the best source of pastoral employees we have at Good Shepherd) made the list.
Also absent were some of the largest theological schools in the country: Southern Baptist in Louisville, Southwestern Baptist in Fort Worth, and Dallas Theological in — you guessed it! — Dallas. While those schools would be a couple of steps to the right of Asbury or Good Shepherd in theological terms, nevertheless their influence on American Christianity is unmatched.
The STCTW web site describes its selection criteria this way:
The seminaries and divinity schools listed in Seminaries that Change the World represent distinguished academic institutions that have a living legacy of scholarship and a commitment to service and social justice issues.
By that standard, the list of 17 is probably fair. And who could question a “commitment to service and social justice issues”?
Yet the site’s theological perspective is most evident by what is missing from the selection criteria: educating and shaping leaders who can boldly proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ when they are deployed in the local church.
In my way of thinking, that’s how a seminary can truly change the world.
Here’s the good news: the STCTW site has an application for schools who would like to be considered for the list in 2015.
Are you listening in Wilmore, South Hamilton, and even Dallas-Fort Worth?