That makes me fuming angry! (HULK SMASH)
As a United Methodist Institution, should not our schools reflect the mission of the United Methodist Church: To Make Disciples of Jesus Christ? (THROWS PULPIT)
We have to be explicit with our mission statements, right? (THROWS CHALICE)
No wishy-washy nuanced academic words like Faith, Spirituality, or Religion will cut it! (CATCHES CHALICE..whew!)
Words with nuance are not expressive of the simple tenets of Christian faith! (SITS IN ASHES)
I propose that we determine who is the holiest of all UMC institutions.
Since we applied it to Claremont, let’s use this clinically-proven formula of analyzing mission statements and apply it to the variety of mission statements from the 13 United Methodist Seminaries and see how they nuance things.
We are armed with the scientifically lab-tested and proven Mission Holiness Index (MHI), which gives scores to holiness words, and subtracts for wishy-washy words. Let’s keep score!
- 5 points for explicit mentions of Jesus Christ, God, Christian, or the United Methodist Church
- Minus 1 point for wishy-washy academic words like faith, spirituality, religion, etc…words that indicate they are about God, but without the maracas to actually say it. Even “church” is here because they aren’t paying homage to the UMC…the true faith.
NOTE: I took what was EXPLICITLY their mission statement. Some of them are longer, but only the parts that are explicitly stated as their mission statement are included.
Boston University’s Mission: (not on website…pansies…taken from this official paper here)
The purpose of the Boston University School of Theology is to pursue knowledge of God, to cultivate leaders for communities of faith, to enrich the academy, and to seek peace with justice in a diverse and interconnected world.
As the founding school of Boston University and the oldest United Methodist seminary in North America, we are a professional school within a cosmopolitan research university that is itself committed to “learning, virtue, and piety.” Rooted in the Wesleyan traditions and drawing from the Christian traditions of the world, we strive to equip ministries and vocations whose aim is both personal and social transformation, whose orientation is diverse and global, and whose vision expands the prophetic legacy of this historic School of Theology.
5 point Words: God, UMC, Christian
Minus 1 point Words: faith, Wesleyan, ministries, prophetic, Theology,
TOTAL: 10 points
Candler School of Theology is grounded in the Christian faith and shaped by the Wesleyan tradition of evangelical piety, ecumenical openness, and social concern. Its mission is to educate—through scholarship, teaching, and service—faithful and creative leaders for the church’s ministries in the world.
5 point Words: Christian
Minus 1 point Words: Evangelical, ecumenical, faithful, church’s, ministries, Wesleyan
TOTAL: -1 points
Claremont’s Mission, the school in question…
“An ecumenical and interfaith institution, Claremont School of Theology seeks to instill students with the ethical integrity, religious intelligence, and intercultural understanding necessary to become effective in thought and action as spiritual leaders in the increasingly diverse, multi-faith world of the 21st century.”
Scoring Words: None, nada, zip.
1 point Words: ecumenical, interfaith, religious, spiritual, multi-faith
TOTAL: -4 points
Drew’s Mission is:
The Mission of Drew Theological School Center for Continuing Education is to:
- Equip clergy and lay leaders to effectively address emerging and ongoing issues in ministry by providing relevant leadership education programs, including courses developed in partnership with Annual Conferences and agencies of The United Methodist Church.
- Provide advanced theological education beyond the structure of degree programs by opening some graduate courses to non-degree participants, and partnering with Annual Conferences and local churches to provide alternative educational opportunities that embrace multiple learning styles.
- Strengthen the spiritual lives of all people through deep Christian study and reflection that is characterized by a commitment to justice, ecumenism, and respect for the integrity of creation, and is supported by theology that is responsible to the complex social realities of our interconnected world.
Scoring Words: Christian, United Methodist Church
Minus 1 point Words: clergy, ministry, annual conferences (x2), churches, spiritual, ecumenism, creation, theology.
- TOTAL: 1 points
Duke’s Mission is:
Duke Divinity School’s mission is to engage in spiritually disciplined and academically rigorous education in service and witness to the Triune God in the midst of the church, the academy, and the world. We strive to cultivate a vibrant community through theological education on Scripture, engagement with the living Christian tradition, and attention to and reflection on contemporary contexts in order to form leaders for faithful Christian ministries.
5 point Words: Triune God, Christian (x2)
Minus 1 point Words: spiritually, witness, church, Scripture, ministries
TOTAL: 10 points
Gammon’s Mission is:
The mission of Gammon Theological Seminary, a historically African American institution, in partnership with The Interdenominational Theological Center, is to recruit, support, and educate pastors and leaders for The United Methodist Church.
5 point Words: UMC
Minus 1 point Words: Interdenominational, pastors
TOTAL: 3 points
The core purpose of Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary is to know God in Christ and, through preparing spiritual leaders, to help others know God in Christ.
The seminary enacts its mission through:
- Preparing women and men for ordained and lay ministries;
- Preparing qualified students for seminary, church-related college, and university teaching in the theological disciplines;
- Providing theological research and reflection for the church.
5 point Words: God (x2), Christ (x2)
Minus 1 point Words: spiritual, ministries, theological, church
TOTAL: 16 points
Iliff’s Mission is:
The Iliff School of Theology is a graduate theological school of the United Methodist Church. Its central mission is the education of persons for effective ministry in Christian churches and other religious communities, for academic leadership, and for the cultivation of justice and peace in local and global contexts.
Iliff affirms its United Methodist identity and its liberal Christian heritage, grounded in scriptures and traditions, critical thinking, and openness to emerging truths, including those derived from science, experience, and other faith traditions. In a world fragmented by religious and ideological conflicts, Iliff promotes theological scholarship and dialogue to foster transformative possibilities for humanity and nature.
5 point Words: UMC (x2), Christian (x2)
Minus 1 point Words:ministry, religious, scriptures, faith, religious,
MTSO’s Mission (well, their stated Purpose Statement) is:
Methodist Theological School in Ohio provides a vibrant learning environment for the preparation of skilled, passionate transformational leaders for churches, religious institutions, emerging faith communities and the wider world. We attend to the theological, spiritual, and vocational formation of a diverse group of students involved in a wide range of pursuits. Expecting active participation in our community of learning, we maintain an atmosphere of mutual respect and openness, teaching how to engage in conversation with the past and with others so that new and faithful perspectives may emerge. Our graduates demonstrate a deep understanding of the heritage disciplines of religious study, are highly competent in areas of practical theology, and show evidence of thoughtful reflection. We take seriously our responsibility for stewardship of the intellectual life of the church and our commitment to a just and sustainable world.
5 point Words: NONE
Minus 1 point Words: churches, religious, faith, spiritual, faithful, religious, theology, church.
TOTAL: -8 points
Perkin’s Mission is:
The primary mission of Perkins School of Theology, as a community devoted to theological study and teaching in the service of the church of Jesus Christ, is to prepare women and men for faithful leadership in Christian ministry.
Perkins School of Theology affirms its relationships to the community of learning that is Southern Methodist University, to the universal church (inclusive, ecumenical, and global), the The United Methodist Church specifically, and to its particular geographical and cultural setting in the southwestern United States.
These relationships are sources of strength and avenues of service for the school as it pursues its twin tasks of theological reflection and theological education to the glory of God.
5 point Words: Jesus Christ, Christian, UMC, God
Minus 1 point Words: church, ministry, church, ecumenical, theological (x2)
TOTAL: 14 points
Rooted in the Wesleyan tradition
and committed to inspiring passion for ministry
in diverse Christian bodies,
Saint Paul School of Theology
to make disciples for Jesus Christ,
renew the church,
and transform the world.
5 point Words: Christian, Jesus Christ
Minus 1 point Words: Wesleyan, ministry, disciples, church
TOTAL: 6 points
United’s Mission is:
United Theological Seminary is a Christ-centered graduate school of The United Methodist Church that equips leaders for the church in a pluralistic world through the nurture of piety, the love of learning, and the pursuit of justice.
5 point Words: Christ, UMC
Minus 1 point Words: church, piety
TOTAL: 8 points
Vanderbilt’s Mission is: (dude, what’s up with no mission statements on websites? This is from their catalog)
The Divinity School seeks to fulfill the following objectives: to engage
men and women in a theological understanding of religious traditions; to
help persons, both lay and ordained, re-envision and prepare for the prac-
tice of Christian ministry in our time; to encourage individuals in their
spiritual and intellectual growth; to prepare leaders who will be agents of
social justice; and to educate future scholars and teachers of religion.
5 point Words: Christian
Minus 1 point Words: theological, religious, ordained, ministry, spiritual, religion
TOTAL: -1 point
Wesley’s Mission is:
The mission of Wesley Theological Seminary is to prepare persons for Christian ministry, to foster theological scholarship, and to provide leadership on issues facing the church and the world. Our aim is to nourish a critical understanding of Christian faith, cultivate disciplined spiritual lives, and promote a just and compassionate engagement in the mission of the church to the world.
5 point Words: Christian (x2)
Minus 1 point Words: ministry, theological, church, spiritual, church
TOTAL: 5 points
So, there you have it. Here’s the scientifically proven ranking of the UMC Seminaries:
Mission Holiness Index Rankings
- Garrett, 16
- Iliff, 15
- Perkins, 14
- Duke, 10
- Boston U, 10 (BU tied with Duke, but since they used “orientation” they obviously support the HomoLiberalAgenda, and thus are in 5th place)
- United, 8
- St. Paul, 6
- Wesley, 5
- Gammon, 3
- Drew, 1
- Candler, -1
- Vanderbilt, -1 (they tied with Candler, but since their mission is not on their website, they get negative points for making our team of monkeys work)
- Claremont, -4
- MTSO, -8
Well, we have the results, and they are unquestionable.
- As suspected, Claremont had the second lowest Mission Holiness, and are almost least holy.
- Surprise loser was MTSO in Ohio, with very low Holiness due to their lack of maracas to mention holy words even once in their Statement and fill it with nuanced academic fluff.
- Garrett, Iliff, and Perkins unquestionably take the top tier of Mission Holiness and are most holy.
- Perkins does get honorable mention for being the only school to use ALL Four of the MHI’s “Holy Words.” They get an A for Affort.
- Incidentally, but without influencing these results, Andrew goes to Duke, and Jeremy went to BU. Since they are tied in the MHI ranking, then this MHI is fair and balanced. The fact both their schools are in the top 5 means nothing.
Oh, and for fun, let’s see where Asbury Theological Seminary (NOT A United Methodist Institution) ranks, just to ensure the MHI is accurate and fair:
Asbury Theological Seminary was founded “to prepare and send forth a well-trained, sanctified, Spirit-filled, evangelistic ministry” to spread scriptural holiness throughout the world. The contemporary form of this mission commits the Seminary to maintain a multidenominational, multicultural community which:
- Pursues the union of sound learning and vital piety through excellence in graduate, professional and continuing studies for ordained and lay ministries and provides resources for scholarly leadership in the Wesleyan-Arminian tradition;
- Nurtures men and women called of God for parish ministry and other forms of servant leadership in the experience and practice of personal and social holiness as defined by Scripture and Wesleyan theology;
- Encourages its members, in their teachings, scholarship and service, to live out the witness of a Spirit-filled life formed by the authority of Scripture; and
- Prepares women and men for prophetic ministries of redemption and renewal in an increasingly urbanized and secularized world.
5 point Words: God
Minus 1 point Words: sanctified, Spirit-filled, evangelistic, ministry, scriptural, holiness, ordained, Wesleyan, ministry, holiness, Scripture, Wesleyan, theology, Spirit-filled, Scripture, prophetic, ministries
TOTAL: -12 points
It’s official. Asbury has the most negative point words. In fact, it has a 17:1 buzzword to real mission word ratio. So, out of all the schools, Asbury is the least holy and uses the most lukewarm words to real mission words.
(No wonder they aren’t United Methodist)
Thus, it is concluded. It follows that if you want to go to a good school, go to one of the top schools of the MHI rankings, not one of the bottom ones. They are lowest of the low in Mission Holiness, and that translates to the Holiness and Salvation Level of their students and faculty.
So, that ends our analysis for today.
Hopefully in the future, we will have more examples of the MHI Index.
Thanks, and come back again someday.
(EDIT Apr.16 @ 5:08pm EST :: edited Wesleyan to Wesley and corrected the math on Asbury’s section per comments)
(EDIT Apr 18 @ 7:45am EST :: added Vanderbilt Divinity to the results! How could I forget Vandy? Silly monkeys…)