Straw in the Wind

Submitted by admin on Wed, 11/02/2011 - 09:22

The headline reads, “U.S. Seminaries Consider Radical Changes.”  An article by G. Jeffrey MacDonald, written on 31 October 2011, reports:

Around the country, schools are testing new approaches to theological education. In California, Claremont School of Theology will require that would-be Christian pastors will soon take some courses alongside future rabbis and imams at an institution to be named Claremont Lincoln University.

It goes on:

Schools are experimenting to figure out what works. At Andover Newton, students learn “interpretation” in a way that covers more than Christian readings of the Bible, such as studying the Old Testament alongside rabbinic students from nearby Hebrew College.

The day is coming when lectionary reform will be demanded from yet another direction.  I am thinking of how poorly the readings assigned from the Hebrew Bible reflect the actual faith and practice of Jews.  Many are chosen to set the stage for the New Testament reading, in which they are said to be fulfilled in Jesus Christ.  Worse, some of the Old Testament readings can be used to illustrate how Christianity has supposedly superseded Judaism.

As students from both traditions learn to know each other better, and understand the distinctive strengths of each others’ faith better, I cannot imagine that the Christian students and professors would allow that kind of distortion — not to say betrayal — of Judaism to continue.

Nick Carter, President of Andover Newton Theological School said, “The broader approach helps prepare future pastors to function effectively in a pluralistic world where Christian assumptions can’t be taken for granted.”   And he added, “It actually turned out better rabbis and better Christian ministers when we were able to deal with the difficult texts from each others’ traditions.”