Commissions

Theological News Oct 2006 Vol 35 No 4

10.29.2006

Contents

Excerpts

TC Member Urges Theological Educators to Bridge the Church-Seminary Gap

Dr Carver Yu, Vice-President of China Graduate School of Theology, Hong Kong, was the official representative of the Theological Commission at the International Consultation for Theological Educators, held at Chiang Mai, Thailand, August 7-11, 2006, sponsored by the International Council for Evangelical Theological Education (ICETE). He was also one of the plenary speakers where he spoke on the divide between the church and the theological school as to relevance and role.

Yu asserted that this debate stems from two sides of the same problem which may be stated in terms of three questions: What is the Church? What is Theology? What is Theological Education? Theology's proper and necessary role, he posited, is to examine the Church's proclamation to test whether it is faithful to the Word of God. Yu defined the church as the 'eschatological, charismatic, covenantal, Eucharistic community', and said that, while it is theology's duty to examine the extent to which the church truly lives as this kind of community, these matters are mostly absent from theological curricula. There seems to be little sense where history is moving in our theological endeavour and little cultivation of the sense of community in theological scholarship. He argued that theological schools fail if they do not help the church to maintain a prophetic edge with reference to these attributes.

The theme for the consultation, attended by 144 delegates from more than 40 nations, was 'Global Christianity and the Role of Theological Education.' The consultation opened with Dr. Andrew Walls' plenary message 'Global Christianity and the Role of Theological Education.' Other speakers included Dr. Lamin Sanneh, whose paper, 'Global Christianity: Whose Christianity' stressed the importance of Christianity being localised and expressed in the everyday languages and cultures of the various peoples of the world. Carlos Pinto (Sao Paulo, Brazil) addressed the topic, 'Forming World Christians: Our Task?' Dr. Chris Wright, of Langham Partnership International, speaking on 'North/South Issues: Addressing the Global Divide', noted some progress on problems of inequality in terms of resources and educational opportunities between Northern (Western) and majority world (Southern) Christianity.

(Based on a report to the TC by Dr Carver Yu)

New MTh Program in African Christianity at Daystar University, Kenya

Africa is often viewed through a dark lens, with the focus being on poverty, disease-especially HIV/AIDS, bad governance, corruption, crime, and ethnic violence. While these are undeniable realities across the continent, they hardly represent the total picture. For those who have eyes to see, who view Africa through the lens of God's Kingdom, another reality emerges. Throughout the 20th century, the Church in Africa has grown faster than almost any place or any time in all of Christian history. As a result, Africa is now acknowledged to be a heartland of the gospel and the central zone of theological activity in the world. How are we to understand these divergent realities? Why has the gospel spread so dramatically across sub-Saharan Africa, and to what extent does it impact life in local communities? What is the significance of African Christianity at this point in history, within its own contexts and within the wider sphere of world Christianity?

These are urgent questions that require serious study. Therefore Daystar University has launched its new Master of Theology (MTh) in African Christianity program, which concentrates on this new phenomenon within world Christianity. The 48 credit-hour, 2 year program is under the leadership of MTh Coordinator, Dr Diane Stinton, who said, 'I am impressed by the words of our external reviewer for the Commission of Higher Education, Prof. Jesse Mugambi, who highly commended Daystar University, as an evangelical university, for having taken the initiative to design such a program. He feels that this will have a ripple effect on evangelical theology in our region, so I pray that God will truly prosper the work of our hands in this regard.'

On August 4, 2006 a public lecture was delivered by Prof. Kwame Bediako, and orientation began on August 16, 2006 with Prof. Andrew Walls giving a week of lectures. During the preparations several developments occurred which gave considerable encouragement to the University, including funding for library and teaching equipment, and bibliographic software available for use by all postgraduate faculty and students. There was also a book project initiated by Acton Publishers, in which 400 copies of core textbooks are donated for long-term student use in exchange for serious academic engagement with the African theological writings.

The overall aim of the program is to foster within students an increased sense of African Christian identity, an enhanced ability to engage rigorously with theological issues in African contexts, and a deeper commitment to accountability for authentic Christian witness. In keeping with African worldviews, the program takes a holistic approach to theology; that is, it aims to nurture and equip students for ongoing personal formation, church reformation, and social transformation. The program is suitable for theological educators in formal and informal (e.g., TEE) settings, for those in pastoral ministries within church and para-church organizations, and those in Christian NGO and development agencies.

For further information and for offers to funding to assist students with the cost of the program, contact the Postgraduate Faculty office or the MTh Coordinator, Dr. Diane Stinton, at dbstinton@diamsys.co.ke