Why academic theology departments should be subject to government cuts

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There are several reasons for this.

  1. Theologians try to run before they can walk. I have written about this before, but nobody noticed, so I feel OK to write about it again. Before attempting something on The Meaning of Kenosis or The Problem of Evil they should prove their abilities on simpler matters. The Problem of Trapped Wind, for example, or the Problem of Notable Theologians Borrowing Your Study While You Are Out and Picking their Noses and Putting the Pickings on the Underside of Your Desk. Solve these, and you have an audience for life.
  2. Their training is deficient. No-one should be allowed to be in charge of anything or opine on anything unless they have (a) changed nappies and (b) organized and run a toddlers’ birthday party. The most advanced degrees should only be awarded to those who have personally sucked snot from an infant nose.1 We have had enough of academics marking their own homework and being of no practical use.
  3. They hide their work from their intended audience by having it traditionally published. Learned journals and academic textbooks keep your work and your audience well apart from each other. So you have written an insightful monograph on how future hope informs present praxis? Well done for putting it in inaccessible journals or expensive print books. Hardly anyone can reach it in there. The youth worker in Nigeria, the pastor in the Philippines, the church-planter among the Dalits in India won’t be able to study your stuff to nurture thoughtful, rounded, disciples of Christ, even though each has a mobile phone with lots of storage and data. They’ll have to make do with the free stuff from permatanned American 2 preachers instead. By hiding your work in antediluvian print, you ensure that discipleship for most Christian flocks will be reduced to saying some magic words to get rich quick.
  4. Well done!
  1. I would not qualify, though I have sorted through a very full potty looking for a dropped Polly Pocket
  2. I have nothing against Americans as such, and not much against permatans, but I’m describing a type.

2 thoughts on “Why academic theology departments should be subject to government cuts”

  1. Generally I like your posts, Glenn, but I feel this attack is a little unfair, and not just because my son is studying theology at university. It’s not the theologians’ fault the system is the way it is; other academics are equally to blame for burying their work in rarely read journals; and why should there by a theological treatise on trapped wind any more than, say, a mathematical one? Also, plenty of theologians make an effort to make their work accessible, even changing their published name if necessary (Tom / NT Wright).

    It rather sounds like you have an axe to grind against someone in particular. Come on then, name names! 😉

  2. Fair comment. My tongue was firmly in my cheek when writing about theologians, and I confess to ignoring my prickling conscience too, given that I personally have gained so much from reading theology. You are also right in that my remarks could equally be applied to the rest of academia.Thanks for the necessary correction.I still think, though, that publishers of Biblical theology and of Christian teaching generally have not conspicuously succeeded in embracing the power of free. What would it cost them to make 10% of their backlist available for free download onto any phone in the world? Why are they in their business in the first place, if it is not to make available the best teaching and thinking to the widest possible audience? O tempora, o mores.

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