Tim Dearborn, who is the founder of the Seattle Association for Theological Studies (its name was changed to the Pacific Association for Theological Studies and KOINOS is the name currently used to describe its ministry), one day described me as a walking seminary. What he meant by this is that I have a huge interest in all of the dimensions of what happens in a seminary, from biblical studies to theological studies to pastoral counseling to church history, and I attempt to integrate them at all times.
I love surveys; I love getting the big picture and then being able to drill down deep later. Some people would call that being a generalist.
My father-in-law began the Family Medicine program for the University of Washington in Spokane. In Spokane they needed generalists who would go out to communities and understand all that was going on, and if necessary to send them to Seattle where specialists are trained. Specialists often aren’t as aware of all that is out there, but they’re the best within the area of their focus.
So, I lean towards being a generalist. I lean towards being somebody who wants to see all the different parts of theological training integrated into all the parts of a person’s life, so to be a counselor who is a theologian is just one of the ways that I bring together that whole sense. And when I train people at Washington Seminary, my concern is that they would end up as those who have a general education that integrates all of these pieces together, but preparing every step of the way to minister in a specialty that brings together the generalities to bear on specific questions. So I don’t think it’s an “either – or” type thing. I think we need generalists who are able to specialize and that we will be best served because those people will be able to go anywhere and to draw on all the fields of thought that need to be drawn on to be equipped to minister. And communities of faith, the families of faith if you will, that are part of the world shaped by God that we currently live in needs leaders who are theologically informed and practically able to strategically make a difference.