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Recovering the Christian Mind: Educating the Anglican Ministry Today

Recovering the Christian Mind: Educating the Anglican Ministry Today

By Justyn Terry
January 23, 2012

The story of the up-side down mice (Roald Dahl), as used by Jeremy Begbie. Our challenge: living the right-way up in an upside down world as we await the returning King.

The Vision

Jesus came and said to them, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age." (Matt 28:18-20, ESV)

Church's task: turn pagans -> Christians, God's enemies -> friends, children of darkness -> light

- That is the task of the whole Church, and Anglicans have a vital part to play

- Our vision: Reformed Catholicism. Justification by faith understood in Catholic faith and order

- Cranmer's vision of a holy nation; but not limited to one nation

- People of prayer, word, sacraments, and a life orientated to service in Christ's name by the Spirit

- High view of the laity (lay theologians and apologists: S.T. Coleridge, D.L. Sayers, C.S. Lewis...)

- High expectation of the ordained: learned clergy (pastor-theologians: Hooker, Donne, Wesley...)

The Problem

The world is up-side down and does not know it (cf. fighter pilot in Dallas Willard, Divine Conspiracy)

- Scientific insights applied outside scientific realm and the over-valuing of the senses (2 Cor 5:7)

- Secularism claims to be neutral, but it is not (Rom 8:7), and it instead returns people to paganism

- Church divided in its response: reappraise or reassert the gospel in the light of secularism

- This is the biggest challenge the Church has faced since the Reformation

The Solution/Challenge

Living out our call to be people of the kingdom of God in the kingdoms (and republics) of earth

- Every lay person fully engaged in kingdom work in their vocation, home, and community

- Every ordained person fully engaged in kingdom work in their vocation, home, and community

How to train up such lay people?

1. Take seriously the call to conversion and catechism from the earliest years - average age of conversion to Christianity in US is 16 (Edwin Starbuck, Virgil Gillespie)

2. Have education and experience of Christian ministry available for all ages: children, teenagers, students, young adults, adults (single, married, parents), elderly...

3. Churches developing knowledge, skills and character of disciples mature in Christ (Col 1:28)

4. Renew catechesis in the home so that the children grow up in the faith

5. Christian schools playing their part in catechesis (including biblical languages)

6. Maintain Christian colleges/universities at the highest levels of scholarship

7. Actively seek out leaders who have pastoral hearts, missionary minds, and servant hands

How to train up such clergy?

1. Educate them in the great Christian tradition and equip them for the challenges of the day

- cf. Karl Barth: Bible in one hand, newspaper in the other

- cf. Dietrich Bonhoeffer: understand secularism better than it understands itself

- need an awareness of the history of thought

- need the skills of apologetics

2. Have high standards of education: biblical languages, exegesis, history, theology, pastoralia

3. Maintain residential education with strong Anglican commitments wherever possible: - train clergy in the context of the daily offices and regular Communion

- Anglicans have great biblical, historical, theological and pastoral traditions

[T]he catholic and apostolic faith uniquely revealed in the Holy Scriptures and set forth in the catholic creeds, which faith the Church is called upon to proclaim afresh in each generation. The historic formularies of the Church of England [the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion, the 1662 Book of Common Prayer, and the Ordering of Bishops, Priests and Deacons,], forged in the context of the European Reformation and acknowledged and appropriated in various ways in the Anglican Communion, bear authentic witness to this faith. (Section 1.1.2 of the Anglican Covenant) - local options and church based training have a place too, but they cannot stand alone.

The case for theological schools is not that they can do everything that needs to be done, but that they do many things that are absolutely essential to learning for religious vocation, and they do them better than any other kind of educational program.

(Daniel D. Aleshire. Earthen Vessels: Hopeful Reflections on the work and future of Theological Schools. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 2008, 58)- need to make residential education affordable - make clear that it is a radical call to radical leadership

4. Use on-line and intensive classes to enable pre-seminary, seminary and post-seminary training

5. Ensure many of the seminary professors have ordained or lay leadership experience

6. Ensure students learn to pray, preach, teach, officiate, evangelize, serve the poor, organize, inspire, and persevere in humility

7. Retain and develop the role of Curacy: many things are best learned by mentoring.

8. Encourage serious lifelong formation in knowledge, skills, and character

- collegiality, both locally with Anglicans and non-Anglicans, and worldwide

- accountability is needed - soul friends and support groups

9. Treasure the clergy and lay leaders and safeguard time for rest, recreation, and study

- so many challenges: secularism rising, financial and buildings issues, emotional drain etc.

10. So it is time to raise the bar for the training for Anglican ministry, not to lower it


Church needs to recover the priority of mission: living the right way up in an up-side down world.

It is not the Church of God that has a mission in the world, but the God of mission who has a church in the world.

(Tim Dearborn, qtd. Mission Shaped Church. London: Church House Publishing, 2004, 85)

That will require its leaders cast this vision and work prayerfully to bring it to reality

That in turn requires its leaders be selected and trained with this in mind

That in turn needs the whole church to be in engaged in lifelong education to make disciples of Jesus.

Further reading

Augustine. On the Catechising of the Uninstructed. www.newadvent.org/fathers/1303.htm Thomas F. Torrance. The School of Faith. Eugene Or.: Wipf and Stock, 1996/1959 J.I. Packer and Gary A. Parrett. Grounded in the Gospel. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker, 2010.


The Rev. Dr. Justyn Terry is President of Trinity School for Ministry in Ambridge, PA. He delivered this lecture at this years' Mere Anglicanism Conference in Charleston, SC

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