What is Underground Seminary?

Underground Seminary is an alternative form of theological education. Our goal is to train leaders equipped to understand the underlying forces at work in the world, and to form genuine disciples who embody fearless Christian leadership.

Multinational corporations are corrupting governments here in the US and around the world at an accelerating rate. The neo-liberal framework imposed by the West as “globalization” has intensified conflict everywhere. Billions must navigate a brutal and exploitative economic system, struggle with degrading mental and physical health, and wonder how an endangered planet can be home for future generations.

Our mission is first to identify and root out the logic and impulses of empire from our person, and then to make disciples who will respond to the desperation of the present world with passion and compassion, intelligence and resolve. We believe that Jesus modeled a way for all people to live on this earth in peace. Our aim is to train leaders who can generate reconciling community as a hopeful response to imperial dehumanization.

Inspiration

Underground Seminary is inspired by Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the early 20th century German pastor, theologian and resistor. The vision is to offer a “this-worldly” education rooted in the experience of “life together” that equips students to follow the way of Jesus today. Bonhoeffer challenged the dualism within the Western Christian tradition that led to spiritual inwardness (and its obsession with personal innocence), theological abstraction, and social apathy. Instead, he emphasized the sociality of the faith through the incarnation. Jesus Christ must be real both personally and communally within the world. This led him to question the strictly academic approach to pastoral formation with his Finkenwalde seminary experiment during World War II. For Bonhoeffer, seminary education was a time of “intensive preparation for service to others,” with a focus on material reality, community life and non-anxious embodiment.

Values

  • Radical Discipleship: Following the way of Jesus through a life of service with and for others.
  • Critical Pedagogy: Uprooting the logic of empire in the self that blocks our call to discipleship.
  • Community Building: Loving others to form mature, reconciling Christian community.
  • Fearless Leadership: Moving from self-preservation toward selfless advocacy.
  • Public Witness: Proclaiming God’s peaceable reign out of the community’s parabolic witness.
  • Ecological Sustainability: Imagining and embodying sustainable ways of life in this world.