Thirty years ago, seminary education was a rather uneven thing. Various religious traditions had developed different approaches and standards in their educational programs. Degrees carrying the same nomenclature involved very different preparation.
For the last 20 years, the pattern has been for nonaccredited schools to move in the direction of accreditation by the Association of Theological Schools. Today, very few are not at least eyeing accreditation, which guarantees minimum standards and relative uniformity of program and curriculum.
Much of this has to do with a developing sense of what goes into the training of a person for professional ministry. Thus, whether schools are conservative or liberal, Catholic or Protestant, denominational, university-based, or independent, they have moved toward consensus about what the overall patterns of theological education should be. Programs, in general, are aimed at a balanced, well-rounded curriculum, including the historical, systematic, biblical, and practical.
I think this balance is vital, because all kinds of evidence exists that religion and arrogance too frequently go hand in hand. Some of the most arrogant people on earth are those who think they understand God and what God wants for everybody else.
Theological education is a humbling process, because it introduces us to the nuances, the complexities, the legitimate areas of difference between people. It is impossible to go through a well-rounded program of theological education and come through with all your preconceived ideas intact.
Those of us involved in theological education want people to come out of the process with conviction, but not with arrogant, simplistic views. To be right is not just to have correct ideas, but to have a loving spirit and attitude toward other people. Humility, flexibility, a self-critical posture, a readiness to hear and serve others––that is what a good theological education reinforces.