New GOE Exam Question Proposal

As Marshall reminds us, the General Ordination Exams are now underway. I enjoyed Marshall’s observations about Exams then and now and was struck by his rumination on what would signify preparation for the clerical task today. I was struck, too, by his observation that the more recent questions are more academic than in his day.

As I was reading it, a question popped into my head that seems both useful, practical and a good measure of what candidates both should know and should be able to do. Here it is:

You can use your Bible and your Prayer Book; otherwise, no other outside resources. You have a full 8 hour day. Assume that tomorrow is The 3rd Sunday after Epiphany in Year A. Now–write a sermon for tomorrow that doesn’t suck.

Needless to say, I don’t expect to see this one on next year’s exam—but I can always dream…

4 Replies to “New GOE Exam Question Proposal”

  1. Please allow time for interruptions by: a) telephone- the church hall water pipes have frozen; b) email – a couple want to audition your church to marry in for August 2012; c) personal callers – can you spare the price of a ferry ticket to see my sick mum on the Isle of Wight?; and d) theophany – well, whatever the Boss wants to say to you…

  2. Your proposed question is spot-on, even if highly unlikely. I recently looked at some of the old GOE questions. It struck me that, if I had the right seminary syllabi, I could pass the exam after cramming for three months or so, based on my EFM diploma and my own continuing ed program in theology, which happens mainly on the net and in various coffeehouses. All of which leads to the question: why have seminaries, especially in their present (highly overpriced) state?

  3. Derek, thanks for the link.

    I think your question is great, but leaves an awful lot of room for interpretation by the readers. What, just exactly, does “not suck” mean? The evangelical reader might believe it sucks for too few repetitions of the name of Jesus. The Catholic be disturbed if it’s not tied sufficiently to the Real Presence. And neither of them will actually hear it; and for the good Broadchurch believer, the compelling delivery will go a long way.

    In my experience, it is those precise shortcomings that suggest it might actually be picked up by the Board of Examining Chaplains.

  4. LOL—perish the thought, Marshall…

    Joe, you can get a pretty good theological education that way. Of course, the biggest danger there is a lack of breadth. People tend to focus on what they’re interested on and avoid the stuff that’s boring to them. A well-balanced seminary education should give you a filling in of all the major areas whether you like them or not…

    Justin, and there will *always* be interruptions!

Comments are closed.