Paradox and surprise face those who pursue deeper spiritual practice, theological wisdom, and even a religious calling into the ministry. Unbeknownst to incoming students, the pursuit of theological education in established institutions today furthers a faith that is recognizable in delight and compassion, even as it may just as easily deform it into a moral duty and autonomous professionalism so divisive in today's religious ecology. How may those drawn into ministry formation today receive its deep theological treasures and sustain a vibrant faith with a theologically expressive delight able to companion the suffering of self and others?
Artisanal Theology explores the paradoxes and surprises that await those walking in the worlds of theological education--the local congregation, the academy, the tradition/denomination. Part handbook, part witness, it offers guidance for the path of intentional formation within contemporary institutions of theological education, whose riches may be mined in a disciplined spiritual stewardship and grounded in radically covenantal companionship. Just like artisanal bread blends the classical methods of bread-baking with modern conveniences, so an artisanal theology relies upon the personal and communal touch of human relationship amidst the contemporary forms of programmatic theological education. An artisanal theology offers an articulate and traditionally-rooted faith perspective grounded in covenantal companionships sustained in contexts of church, tradition, and, most importantly, practice. Ultimately, an artisanal theology witnesses beyond the anticipated political divides to the Triune God-among-us, known in a theologically expressive delight, able to companion the suffering of self and others.