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Divine debate: 'Stuffy academics' versus 'holy rollers'

Most Christians wouldn’t choose to turn to Thomas Aquinas’s “person of one book” to answer the profound questions of the human condition. Rather, they seek clergy who are educated and thoughtful “to help us wade through suffering and come out the other side with a sense of wholeness,” says Jan Love, dean of Candler School of Theology.

Yet as membership in mainline Protestant churches continues its downward spiral ― pulling along with it funds to pay full-time, fully educated pastors ― a debate is waging in Christian circles about the necessity of a theological education as a condition for ordination into ministry. The majority of mainline Protestant churches require pastors to obtain a master of divinity (MDiv) degree, but some argue that a person whom God has endowed with exceptional gifts of ministry can be effective without going to seminary.

So why require it, especially in these lean times?

Candler faculty and alumni offer ready opinions in what Love calls “this age-old debate of ‘stuffy academics versus holy rollers.’ ”

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