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What is Theological Education?
Below are several questions posted by The Fund For Theological
Education (FTE).FTE's original documents can be found here.
NES has developed a response to each question based on our unique
Theological education is much more than simple "graduate
school." Schools of theology are combinations of distinctive
traditions and practices that make each one unique.
First, a theological school is an institution of advanced
intellectual inquiry. Faculty at the schools usually research
and publish in their field and belong to academic guilds.
Academic disciplines such as biblical studies, philosophy,
languages, ethics, history, and theology, have deep roots in
Western academic traditions.
However, these institutions are also professional schools that
teach students practical skills for their work in church and
society. They offer courses and degrees in areas such as
counseling, homiletics (preaching), Christian and religious
education and leadership, fields which require both an intellectual
grounding as well as specific skills in order to be effective in
one's work. The term "practical theology" usually encompasses
these disciplines. Viewed from this angle, theological
schools may resemble other professional graduate programs, like
business schools or law schools or schools of social work.
But then there's the distinctly religious dimension of
theological education. Every theological school has a unique
religious history, rooted in the commitments of a faith tradition
or religious movement. Moreover, each theological school will
foster its own religious community, a unique congregation of
believers who come together as future ministers and social workers
and teachers in a communion unlike anything they will experience
NES: Our Master of Divinity and Master of Arts
(Theological Studies, Theology and Social Justice, and
Transformational Leadership) degrees offer a unique integrated
theological curriculum during the first year to two years
that combines the traditional studies in theology, biblical
studies, church history, along with relevant studies in culture and
church governance. A primary distinctive of an NES degree program
is its emphasis on personal and spiritual formation.