Nice Classroom Virtues You Have There

Photo by Felicia Buitenwerf on Unsplash

Molly recently began here Doctor of Ministry work at the George W. Truett Theological Seminary.

One of her pre-seminar sessions was with Dr. William J. Abraham. He offered the students a list of classroom virtues and practices. What are those virtues? As follows, with Abraham’s expanded description.

Desire for Truth

The aptitude to discern whether the belief-forming processes, practices, and people yield true beliefs over false ones. People motivated by this desire will be more likely to conduct thorough inquiries, scrutinize evidence more carefully, investigate numerous fields of study, consider alternative explanations, and so forth.

Epistemic Humility

The capacity to recognize reliable sources of informed judgment while acknowledging the limits of our knowledge and the fallibility of our judgments. This is not created in isolation but takes into account feedback and correction from other sources of informed judgment.

Intellectual Honesty

The capacity to tackle difficult questions without seeking simple answers. Ignoring complex and difficult questions only solidifies vices such as intellectual dishonesty, close-mindedness, and rash judgments. These vices preclude the possibility of refining our thinking and of participating in conversations with others.

Don’t oversimplify.

Be able to say, “I don’t know.”

Open-mindedness

The desire to engage in an open-ended search for knowledge, understanding, wisdom, and so on. Presumed here is the capacity to take seriously different ideas and counterarguments, recognizing that being impulsive in assessing evidence fosters intellectual deficiencies and hinders intellectual growth, both personally and communally.

Courage

The willingness to articulate one’s own position while considering other perspectives. Responding to objections entails tenacity but should not be confused with close-mindedness.

Articulate robustly. Deal with objections as friends.

An Integrative Habit of Mind

The capacity to grasp how things fit together in light of one another and how an understanding of this sort relates to the situation at hand.

Molly records Abraham saying, “If you cultivate these, you will be more able to detect the divine in the world.”

Methodist Friends: Come Study at Truett

Portraits, Faculty, Perkins School of Theology, Abraham, William, Perkins Chapel

William J. Abraham is coming to Baylor’s George W. Truett Theological Seminary.

From the press release:

Following extended conversations with and consultation of seminary faculty, alumni and friends, Dean Todd D. Still, Ph.D., announced today, with strong support from university administration, the formation of a Wesley House of Studies at Baylor University’s Truett Seminary. In conjunction, he announced that Dr. William J. Abraham, a theologian, philosopher, author and minister, will serve as the founding director of this strategic initiative.

In this role, Abraham will ensure that students attending Truett from Wesleyan traditions are nurtured and networked for the ministries into which they are being called. Additionally, Abraham, who will regularly teach courses at Truett pertaining to Wesleyan thought and practice, will collaborate with individuals, congregations and organizations in the Wesleyan tradition in the recruiting, training and placing of students and in supporting and educating ministers who are already engaged in gospel service.

“From its inception in 1994, Baylor’s Truett Seminary — an orthodox, evangelical school in the historic Baptist tradition embedded into a major research university — has been blessed to train ministerial students primarily, though not exclusively, from baptistic congregations,” said Still, The Charles J. and Eleanor McLerran Delancey Dean and The William M. Hinson Professor of Christian Scriptures. “In recent years, however, Wesleyan students and churches have begun to turn increasingly to Truett as a desirable destination location for theological education. We have, in turn, warmly welcomed these Christian friends into our seminary community, which exists to train God-called people for gospel ministry in and alongside Christ’s Church by the power of the Holy Spirit. The establishment of The Wesley House of Studies at Baylor’s Truett Seminary strengthens further this ongoing practice and places Truett on a trajectory to become an increasingly multidenominational school while holding steadfast and true to its doctrinal and ecclesial commitments.”

A gifted teacher, sought-after lecturer, prolific author and ordained elder in the Methodist Church, Abraham holds degrees from The Queen’s University, Belfast, Northern Ireland (BA); Asbury Theological Seminary (M.Div.); and Oxford University, Regent’s Park College (D.Phil.), and has taught at Seattle Pacific University, Harvard Divinity School and Southern Methodist University.

“We are on the cusp of a new day for the future of the Wesleyan network of families across the world,” Abraham said regarding the creation of The Wesley House of Studies at Truett Seminary and his appointment to serve as its founding director. “In order to fulfill the promise in store for us, we urgently need fresh ways of providing the spiritual, practical and intellectual resources that are essential for the work up ahead.

“Baylor University is a world-class institution, and the creation of a Wesley House of Studies at Baylor University’s George W. Truett Theological Seminary is a landmark development,” he said. “I can think of no better place to be home to a vibrant Wesley House. I am thrilled to play my part in making it a stellar center of excellence that the Holy Spirit can use for reform, renewal and awakening on a global scale.”

I know I have Methodist friends out there who are discerning a call to theological education. There’s a place for you at Truett. As a bonus, I’ll get to see you, too.