Theological News Jan 2004 Vol 33 No 1


Editor: Dr. David Parker

Excerpts from this issue

Note :

We are invite all who receive the printed version of WEA TN to consider a voluntary donation of approx US $10 for two years to assist with production costs.

WEA Theological News has been published now for more than twenty years and we thank those who have supported us during this time. Our aim is to provide information about theological work around the world and to bring you news of the work of our Commission. We welcome feedback and especially contributions of news.

Earlier, TN was offered on a formal subscription basis, but in recent times there has been no set charge. To help us continue to publish regularly, we are once again inviting your financial support. 

Donations can be sent in US $$, Euros, Sterling or Australian $$ (payable to Theological Commission) to Editor, WEF TN, 17 Disraeli St, Indooroopilly Qld, Australia, 4068
Enquiries Fax (+61 7) 3878 3108

Theological Commission on Call

When it met in the UK in August, the WEA Theological Commission (TC) undertook to create a 'Rapid Response Unit'. In consultation with WEA General Secretary Gary Edmonds, it was agreed that a formal mechanism needed to be put in place which would allow the WEA to comment quickly, from a sound theological base, on major news stories of international significance. The Unit will be directed by Rev. Dr. David Hilborn, who is Head of Theology at the Evangelical Alliance UK and who for the last six years has run its Theological Commission. In this role, he has overseen publication of a number of theological reports, and has worked closely with the EAUK Press and Media department, which is much in demand as a source of evangelical comment and information in Britain.

Theologians typically take months or years to research, deliberate and write in the academic sphere, but the TC also recognises that on certain occasions, more urgent input is required from them. The '9-11' attack on the twin towers and the recent war in Iraq would be obvious examples, but the rapid pace of events in the Anglican Communion on homosexuality this last summer also had global import, and warranted a global evangelical theological response. Hitherto, national alliances have often shared one another's press releases and statements ad hoc when issues have come to affect the world as a whole. While continuing to recognize the value of specific national and regional perspectives on global matters, the new Rapid Response Unit will seek to integrate and streamline WEA's contributions.

At present, David Hilborn is gathering a pool of experts, who can be called upon at short notice to draft appropriate texts on behalf of WEA as and when matters of international concern arise. Most of the work done by the Rapid Response Unit will be conducted online, but administration will be based at the EAUK offices in London.

If you have expertise which might benefit the Rapid Response Unit, or if you know of other theologians who would be able to help, please let David Hilborn know at

WEA Theological Commission - celebrating 30 years 1974-2004 feature

This year, the WEA Theological Commission celebrates 30 years of ministry. We will mark this milestone in this newsletter with special features on some of the key leaders of the organization, including greetings from them. We will also be printing in our main journal, Evangelical Review of Theology, significant new or republished papers written by some of these key leaders.

Although the Theological Commission itself as an organisation is 30 years old, it had a pre-history extending back to 1968 when Mr. (later Rev. Dr.) Bruce Nicholls was appointed Theological Advisor to the World Evangelical Fellowship (as it was known then) at its 5th General Council meeting. As a theological teacher based in India since 1955, he had addressed the WEF on some of the key theological issues facing the world, and especially Asia. Inspired by his analysis and insights, the WEF created the position of Theological Advisor. Over the next few years, Bruce Nicholls, assisted by John Langlois of Guernsey, developed the WEF 'Theological Assistance Program' (TAP) which made its mark on evangelical theological work worldwide. By 1974, it had already sponsored many activities and encouraged the growth of numerous institutions, including TAP-ASIA which later became the Asia Theological Association. In that year, the WEF formed the Theological Commission with 12 members and Bruce Nicholls as the founding Executive Secretary . Its first Consultation was held in London in 1975. With the continued assistance of John Langlois, Bruce Nicholls led the WEF Theological Commission, finally retiring in 1986. Since then he has retained a lively and active interest in its work.

One of the mentors of the TC, and an official advisor at its inauguration was Rev. Dr. John R. W. Stott. Here is his greeting for the 30th Anniversary of the Theological Commission.

'Although I have never been a member of the WEA's Theological Commission, I have admired its work, and I have been thankful for its courage in tackling controversial issues. I also remember with gratitude those theological consultations in the nineteen-seventies and eighties which were jointly sponsored by the Lausanne Committee and the WEF. So I send you my thankfulness for what has been accomplished, and my best wishes for future enterprises.'

The second chair of the Theological Commission was Rev. Dr. Arthur M. Climenhaga. He was part of the original movement to form the TC and became Vice-Chair in 1975. With the accidental death of the first chair, Dr. Byang Kato, in 1975, Dr. Climenhaga took over leadership, serving from 1975-80. He was Vice-Chair again 1980-83 serving with Bishop David Gitari. Dr. Climenhaga worked as a Bishop of the Brethren in Christ in Zambia and Zimbabwe in the 1950s and then as President of Messiah College, Grantham, Pa. - 1960-64 and Executive Director, National Association of Evangelicals, Wheaton , Ill. - 1964-67. He later took up church leadership in his denomination again, and served in academic roles at Western Evangelical Seminary, Portland, Oregon and at Ashland Theological Seminary, Ashland, Ohio. In his retirement, Dr. Climenhaga is Representative-at-Large for Brethren in Christ World Missions and exercises a Bible teaching and evangelistic ministry under the umbrella title of 'Resource Ministries.'

While NAE Executive Director in the 1960s Dr. Climenhaga delivered a paper on universalism at the Wheaton Congress on the Church's World-wide Mission and also at the Berlin Congress on Evangelism. While the particular illustrations and references in the paper date to that period, the main theme and insights are surprisingly up to date and relevant. We have much pleasure in printing the full text of that paper in the January 2004 issue of Evangelical Review of Theology as one of the special features marking our 30th Anniversary. This issue also contains the first part of 'a short history' of the Theological Commission.

Reports of Conferences and Documents welcome .

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this do not necessarily represent the views of the WEA Theological Commission
Copyright © WEA Theological Commission