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Leanne Van Dyk

Who's Saving Whom?

There is much lively discussion these days about the nature and goals of theological education. Seminaries are asking hard questions: "How are we equipping our students for ministry?" "What kind of world will our students meet in their ministry?" "What is the goal of theological education?"

A number of important books and articles have emerged in recent years to deal with these questions, including David Kelsey's To Understand God Truly: What's Theological About a Theological School (1992) and Edward Farley's Theologia: The Fragmentation and Unity of Theological Education (1983).

Rebecca Chopp, dean of the faculty and professor of theology at Candler School of Theology, adds to this discussion a distinctly feminist perspective in her book Saving Work. She is convinced that more attention needs to be given in debate on theological education to the students in our seminaries-in particular, to the enormous diversity they represent, in contrast to the traditional seminary students of a generation ago. From this wide range, Chopp chooses the group she wishes to examine: "Because I have been engaged in the feminist movement within theological education for at least twenty years, I decided to focus on women engaged in feminist practices of theological education in order to speak about one cultural group within theological education."

The reader might initially wonder what Rebecca Chopp means by feminist. She is well aware that not all women identify themselves as feminists and, furthermore, that some men identify themselves in support of feminist concerns. Her use of feminist, then, refers to both women and men who are committed to a range of feminist concerns. Chopp lists some of these concerns: they include the "uncovering of new voices and faces in history," "defining new areas of research," crafting "new resources and new models," and encouraging the use of inclusive language.

The goal of Chopp's book is to begin inquiry into the possibilities of a feminist critical theory; ...

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