Theology turns the other cheek

November 27, 1998

There are two issues here.

1. Should denominational clergy, religion teachers, and other church workers be trained at state-run universities?

This is an issue only in countries such as England and Germany where there are "state churches". Having been involved in theological study in both, I can say without hesitation that this functions quite well in England, where a spirit of openness and diversity is the rule, and that it does not function well at all in Germany, where diversity is often seen as dangerous. England also allows room for free church students and faculty, while this is rarely the case in Germany - so that evangelicals and Pentecostals are as likely to be discriminated against as the atheistic Gerd Ludemann (THES, November 13). If the state is allowing the church to train clergy at universities, then the church must be allowed to have a say as to who should be teaching its future ministers.

2. Can a person be a theologian if s/he does not believe in God? If a person has no affinity to a belief system then it is hard to imagine how s/he could present it accurately in classes that are intended to teach theology. Would you hire a Jungian professor to teach (with conviction) classes meant to train students in Freudian psychology?

Professor Ludemann is an attractive personality who has some absurd ideas. His prolific books seem aimed at a general public which is not intellectually equipped to engage with him and therefore tends to swallow his ideas whole.

Amy Anderson

Stirchley, Birmingham

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