Friday, 17 July 2009

Pragmatism—the next enemy

Mark Thompson gave an address recently. Of the five challenges he listed as facing Sydney Anglicans, the only one that really bothers me is this:

The second challenge is one that, quite frankly, I never expected us to face in this diocese. We, along with others, will need to guard our diocese’s long-standing commitment to rigorous theological education as the foundation upon which to build effective long-term gospel ministry. Pragmatism is not entirely evil, of course. There is a place for principled pragmatism. None of us wants to persist with methods or structures which are plainly not working. However, it is precisely the ‘principled’ part of principled pragmatism which is under renewed pressure just at the moment. Some are arguing that we need simply to get on with the work and if that means settling for less theological rigour then that is a price we must be prepared to pay. We can afford to trim the investment we have made in educating our gospel workers as thoroughly as possible. Not that I’m suggesting the way we’ve always done things has been perfect. However, a significant part of the current strength of our diocese is fifty years at least of serious commitment to theologically-driven decision making. I am suggesting that we must guard that commitment and do what we must to resist and help others to resist the current pressure to downplay the necessity of a thorough theological education. Without it we run the risk of undermining theologically-driven decision making in the future.

If we don't face this one down, we got problems.


Lucy C said...

Gordon, can you explain this one a bit more please?

Gordon Cheng said...

Hi Lucy

The problem at the moment is that people want to short cut time and effort spent in theological education in order to get out, young and enthusiastic, planting churches. Do the degree part-time, spend 1 year or 2 rather than 3 or 4, and let's get them out on the ground doing stuff.

That explains at least the problem, but (I realize) doesn't explain the solution.

Gordon Cheng said...

Or I suppose even why it might be a problem. But it is a big one!

Roger Gallagher said...

Hi Lucy,

This link may give some background to Mark's comments: