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.