Rowan Williams: Theological Education Is for Everyone

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To do theology is to rediscover the strangeness of the Christian framework.

As part of a project to reimagine theological education in the 21st century, theology professor Benjamin Wayman met with Rowan Williams, the 104th Archbishop of Canterbury and Master of Magdalene College at Cambridge University. Over a cup of tea at the Masters Lodge, Wayman and Williams discussed the nature of theological education, which Williams likened to a strange landscape requiring new patterns and preparations for inhabitation. For Williams, Christian education and formation are like learning to camp in a new land, a new creation.

What do you think are the purpose and nature of theological education?

Well, in the broadest possible sense, theological education is learning more about the world that faith creates, or the world that faith trains you to inhabit. That’s what I really want to come back to again and again when I talk about theology. It’s not about a set of issues or problems, it’s about a landscape you move into—the new creation, if you like. You inhabit this new set of relationships, this new set of perspectives. You see differently, you sense differently, you relate differently.

To do theology is, in some ways, to be taken back to that moment of bewilderment about the newness or the distinctiveness or the strangeness of being in this new Christian framework. So theological education is familiarizing yourself with how people have found their way around that landscape with the perspectives they’ve occupied and then learning to pitch your own tent, as one might say, in that territory.

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