A survey of the formation of theological students with reference to ecumenical, multi-cultural and gender issues.
Russell-Boulton, Peter George.
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This thesis comprises a survey and analysis of the 'formation' of students, as part of the curriculum, in theological institutions. It contends that students attending institutions that are heterogeneous in terms of denominations, culture, and gender are not impaired in their formation; on the contrary there are great benefits to be derived from such an environment. This survey has been conducted by means of literature research on formation in North America, Asia and Africa, and personal interviews with staff and students of the Pietermaritzburg Cluster of Theological Institutions that consists of St Joseph's Theological Institute at Cedara, The School of Theology (University of Natal-Pietermaritzburg) and The Evangelical Seminary of Southern Africa. The thesis briefly examines the history of formation from a Christian theological perspective. A cross section of institutions is taken and their various approaches to formation noted. Three issues are addressed namely: ecumenical, multicultural and gender questions. This thesis proposes that these issues are integrated through reflection on the image of God and the faith community of God. The formators' task revolves around the students' identity in their context. This identity includes three dominant aspects - identity in relation to God, in relation to self, and in relation to society. A practical approach such as mentoring is suggested. The pastoral identity of the graduate is anticipated as it pertains to the role of ordained women and particularly the changing status of clergy in a postmodem world. The thesis concludes that if the outcome of formation is the integration and establishment of an individual's identity in relation to the image of God, self and community then a heterogeneous theological institution is an enriching environment.