why am I in [seminary] - Part 2

I've had to answer this question an I've-lost-count number of times - to both friends and acquaintances alike. I've found it tough to answer, because there are many reasons, and some of them aren't the same people assume. Here's part 2.

Why am I in [seminary/theology grad school/divinity school]?

2. To learn about the wider Christian thought through history.

As much as I'd like to think that I'm a fountain of original thought regarding living in the new community, it's rather more likely that someone not only has had "that thought" before me, but has thought it with a bit more class. A great deal more class. And so, if for no other reason than not to look silly, it makes sense for me to take a couple years marinated in the great Christian thinkers and leaders in the 2000 year history of the church.

And while much of the writings of church thinkers would be available for my personal consumption outside of formal schooling, there's something to having a guide - a professor whose job may be less to give you information than to prioritize it for you.

There's Ancient... Irenaeus, Clement, Augustine Very Old... Thomas Aquinas, Martin Luther, John Calvin Last Century... Kierkegaard, Karl Barth, Paul Tillich... actually... I'm starting to list names I've heard and thought about just in the last eight weeks... and this list could go on for a long time. Perhaps a hall of church history would help. Our maybe a tour through the table of contents of Jose Gonzales; History of Christian Thought v1, v2, and v3.

Absorbing the past is particularly relevant to emerging church thought. Brian McLaren's last two books - The Secret Message of Jesus and Everything Must Change - may be good (I dunno yet - haven't got the chance to read them yet). But the titles both imply an idea that somewhere inside lies the undiscovered key to a new Christianity that we haven't thought of yet.

The chances of that seem slim.

(Not that I don't think the American church some major overhaul work (perhaps as much paradigm shift as was required during the Protestant Reformation). But that'll have to fit in as my next reason for being in [seminary]).