Sunday, January 19, 2014

Former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Williams foresees dearth of UK theologians if downgrading of RE continues

The former archbishop of Canterbury has warned that the downgrading of Religious Education will soon deprive Britain of theologians.

Lord Williams of Oystermouth, now master of Magdalene College, Cambridge, and a leading theologian in his own right, said the study of theology in this country “is squeezed”.

He cited three reasons for a forthcoming dearth of British theologians: the omission by Education Secretary Michael Gove of RE from the Ebacc, a performance measure where pupils need to attain certain grades in core academic subjects; the decline in language-learning that began when Labour made languages optional at GCSE; and a lack of funding for graduate theologians.

Lord Williams spoke to The Tablet after giving a lecture at the Mayfair-based Legatum Institute, in London, on the nineteenth-century German liberal Protestant theologian Adolf von Harnack. Lord Williams added: “We don’t have the background in languages that von Harnack would have had that enables you to flit across the continent and just pick up what other people were saying.”

As well as German the theologian knew English, French, Italian and Russian, along with the classical languages and Hebrew.

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