A theological school is a learning institution, secondary or post-secondary education for teaching students who also can at times be referred to as seminarians.
The students in theological schools are instructed in theology, most often to teach them in preparation for ordination as part of the clergy or for other religious ministries. Theological schools are also often called a seminary, which is an English word whose origins are from the Latin word seminarian.
Theological schools, as their name denotes primarily teach theology. Theology is defined as ‘the systematic and rational study of concepts of God and of the nature of religious truths, or the learned profession acquired by completing specialised training in religious studies, usually at a university or school of divinity or seminary.’
The creation of modern theological schools or modern seminaries came about from Roman Catholic changes of the Counter-Reformation after the Council of Trent. The Tridentine seminaries put much importance and weight on personal discipline in addition to the teaching of philosophy as a foundation for theology and the teaching in theological schools.
Generally, theological schools could be a secular institution or form part of a greater institution. Theological schools could be designated for specialised training, such as for a graduate course. In many countries, the reference to theological schools is also used for secular schools of higher education that train teachers.
A theological school also distinguishes itself from other institutions since it primarily educates students for leadership roles in the practice of the Christian ministry. This would mean that theological schools are where key religious member like pastors, missionaries, counselors and other leaders of the Church receive training. Theological schools’ curriculum puts much emphasis on the study, understanding and appreciation of the spiritual formation, Bible, and theology, in addition to practical tools needed for church ministry.
Theology as Part of Academic Study in Theological Schools
These days, theological schools pursue the teaching of theology as an academic discipline without any formal link or connection to a specific church. Theological schools, however, do not restrict its students from having any affiliations to particular denominations or churches.
Ministerial training is also not a central part of the purpose of theological schools. In many current contexts, a difference is drawn by theological schools between theology, which looked upon as involving some level of commitment to the faith, as opposed to religious studies, which has no commitment to faith whatsoever. It would be safe to say that in theological schools, the study of theology as opposed to religious studies, are sometimes seen as being in conflict since there is a clear distinction to be drawn between them.