Compiled by Andrew Warmback for Theological Education Sunday (22 August 2021)
On this Theological Education Sunday I offer some resources for those considering studying theology at an institution or wanting to do some theological reading of their own.
In South Africa there are various institutions at which one may study theology, both universities as well as various colleges, and seminaries. While most of these places train people preparing for full time church work one can attend in one’s own capacity. Each has their own particular theological emphasis. I list some of the institutions with which I am familiar, giving their websites, which in turn gives an overview of the courses they offer, whether degrees, certificates or diplomas, and whether they are residential or offer distance learning.
For Anglicans there is the residential College of the Transfiguration Often referred to as COTT, it was formed in 1993 after St Bedes and St Pauls closed the previous year and was officially opened by Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu with Luke Pato, the current Bishop of Namibia, as its first rector. It is housed on the campus of the former St Pauls Makhanda (formerly known as Grahamstown).
They describe themselves as “the only provincial residential college of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa. We have a long history and many strands of priestly formation and theological education in a tradition of excellence in prayer and worship, learning and discovery, and a shared life in Jesus Christ our Lord.” Its current rector is Revd Canon Dr Vicentia Kgabe.
Other denominational institutions in KZN (at which Anglicans can study too) include the following: St Joseph’s Theological Institute , a Roman Catholic based institution in Cedara and Seth Mokitimi Methodist Seminary (SMMS) in Pietermaritzburg.
Then turning to non-denominational training institutions, based in PMB is the Evangelical Seminary of Southern Africa (ESSA).
They describe themselves as “a committed evangelical institution of Higher Education in South Africa. Our focus is to equip men and women with tools and attitudes needed to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ in church, ministry and life. We are evangelical, multi-racial, multi-denominational, non-sexist, contextual and academically credible at tertiary level.”
Also having an evangelical approach to theology is the South African Theological Seminary
You may be familiar with the correspondence college, Theological Education by Extension College (TEEC). They describe themselves as “a distance-learning institution with students spread across 5 Southern African countries. Started in 1976 and based in Johannesburg, it provides theological training for students preparing for ordination and ministry”
As you know the University of South Africa (UNISA) also provides distance learning. including in theology.
The University of KwaZulu-Natal’s School of Religion, Philosophy & Classics (SRPC).
After 1994 there has been a “rationalisation” of theology departments at South African Universities and most have been incorporated into departments of religion. And in the case of UKZN (Pietermaritzburg) theology forms part of a wider unit that incorporates philosophy and classics.
Having a contextual approach to theology, they describe themselves as follows: “We believe that theology is essentially a communal enterprise in which we grow in understanding our faith commitments through mutual challenge and enrichment. Our goal is to help you develop your abilities to think theoretically and to be critically constructive about yourself and tradition. We try, while offering a classical training with academic excellence, to explore various theological disciplines in a manner relevant to our context. We expect you to take responsibility for your learning, and we hope that you will discover the fulfilment this brings.”
St Augustine College of South Africa , a relatively new Roman Catholic University, offers some interesting studies in theology.
Many people cannot afford nor have the opportunity to study formally at an institution. However, we can all enrich our faith through theological reading. There are a range of theological journals that are “open access” in that you can read their full articles on line, or download them to read later. I mention below some journals from South Africa.
The best approach is to browse through their contents on their website until you find an article of interest to you to read. Most have the current issue on the first page; the archives give previous issues.
I’d be interested in hearing of other theological resources with which you are familiar.