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What is Theological Education?

Below are several questions posted by The Fund For Theological Education (FTE).the-fund-for-theological-education-logoFTE's original documents can be found here. NES has developed a response to each question based on our unique perspective.

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 again.

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.

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