Tuesday 27 March 2007
University or Dead End?
The website for Living University is now up at www.livinguniv.com. One of UCG's leading bloggers has this conciliatory comment:
Whether one is a member of Living Church of God, United Church of God or any other facsimile thereof, it is in all our interests to have a biblically educated membership and a means of passing it on to the next generation.
Which is a reasonable and balanced statement. But, all invective aside, is this likely to occur in the close confines of a church-run institution?
Biblically educated means more than recounting denominational dogmas, it implies hard questions and critical thinking. It demands that authoritarian pronouncements are able to be challenged, discussed openly and even refuted. Being polite, docile and well-groomed is irrelevant.
Was that even remotely possible at Ambassador College? Those who have listened to former students like Greg Doudna know better. At best AC was a training school. You train seals; humans you educate (there is a difference). For most of its institutional life Ambassador was completely unsuitable for accreditation.
Assuming it ever gets off the ground, will Living University do any better? Here's the outline for its flagship theology course:
THL 135 Life, Ministry, and Teachings of Jesus (3-0-0-3)
This course covers the life, ministry, and teachings of Jesus Christ as presented in the four Gospels. Emphasis is on the analysis of the four Gospels in the context of the social, political, and religious conditions of the first century. Upon completion, students should be able to explain the background, purpose, message, and themes of the Gospels and the significance of Jesus Christ in the first century and beyond. The lecture core of this course is a series of recorded lectures presented by noted television evangelist, author, and pastor of pastors Dr. Roderick C. Meredith.
Does "noted television evangelist, author, and pastor of pastors Dr. Roderick C. Meredith" have any recognised qualification for teaching this course? Is his doctorate from a legitimate university? Is his knowledge of the subject current? Has this "noted author" ever published a peer reviewed paper? How about any book not churned out for free as a church promotional? Is listening to "Dr." Meredith's tapes a credible strategy for a core paper?
Living University is, I suspect, a folly that will bleed LCG dry. It defies belief to imagine that any competent authority would ever accredit it. To think that this "university" will attempt to offer qualifications in psychology, anthropology and "health promotion" fairly beggars the imagination.
Would you want your family doctor to have a degree from Hamburger University? Why is that not okay, while a pastor can be functionally illiterate in theology and a danger to all concerned every time he opens his mouth to offer "counselling"?
Anyone in LCG, UCG or any other CG should consider investing in a real education, not hunkering down with recordings made by a rogue amateur who is now, and always has been, out of his depth.
The blog writer is correct: "it is in all our interests to have a biblically educated membership." For that reason alone, Living University is a very bad idea.