Theological News Jul 2007 Vol 36 No 3




TC Leaders Celebrate Milestonesa

Two TC leaders have celebrated important milestones on the same day, on opposite sides of the globe!  In Germany, current TC Executive Chair, Dr Rolf Hille turned 60 on May 15, and in New Zealand, TC founder and former Director, Dr Bruce Nicholls, turned 80 on the same day.

A lecture symposium was held at Albrecht Bengel Haus, Tuebingen where Dr Hille serves as Rector, on May 17. About 120 guests attended and three of the four invited speakers were present. Each one of them gave special personal tributes to Dr Hille before beginning their lectures, relating their personal experiences with Rolf in his many years of Christian life and service. Former colleagues of  Rolf at the Evangelical Christian magazine idea as well as Hartmut Steeb of the German Evangelical Alliance spoke warmly of his personal and professional excellence. Other tributes were shared by Dr. Friedrich Schweitzer, Academic Dean of the Protestant Theology department of Tuebingen University, who lauded Dr Hille’s steady, consistent work in promoting good will and relations between the Albrecht Bengel Haus and the theology department and the importance of the work of the Bengel Haus in preparing students for church ministry. 

Beginning with cake and coffee in the afternoon, two guest speakers, Rolf's doctoral supervisor Dr. Hans Schwarz of Regensburg University, and Dr. David Hilborn of England representing the WEA Theological Commission, each gave presentations related to Rolf's interests in the theological challenges of secularism and pan-Evangelicalism. Dr Hilborn presented a gift on behalf of the TC, marking his 21 year association with the Commission, eleven of which as Chair.  Between the lectures, musical interludes of both classical and contemporary selections were given by Naomi Kautt and the Albrecht Bengel Haus choir. Guests were invited to enjoy a delicious banquet in the dining hall, which provided a good time of fellowship for new and old friends and colleagues. 

In the evening, retired Bishop Dr. Gerhard Maier, also Rolf's predecessor as principal of the Bengel Haus, lectured on biblical history, followed by Rolf and Dorothea's son, Peter Hille, who made a captivating multimedia presentation of 60 years of German history and culture artfully interwoven with images from Rolf's life. The evening was rounded out by a brief devotional from Rolf Scheffbuch, a longtime friend of Rolf, and an inspiring rendition of ‘Amazing Grace’ by Naomi and James Kautt.

Dr Nicholls’ birthday was celebrated in NZ with a service on Sunday May 13  attended by 150 family and friends at St Andrew’s church, Kohimarama, led by Rev Rob Yule. The service featured hymns which had been part of Dr Nicholls’ life from Sunday school days, and music from a Tongan choir based at Dr Nicholls’ own church. There were readings of selected Scriptures that helped shape his life, followed by the exposition of the magnetic power of the Cross in the sermon by his colleague when he served in India, Rev. Ian Kemp.  A number of other people in their 80’s joined Dr Nicholls and his wife of 54 years, Kathleen, in an act of rededication led by Rev. Max Scott. Dr Nicholls responded by sharing some of the stages in his pilgrimage. Dr Nicholls continues in his active retirement to work withDayStar magazine, editing the Asia Bible Commentary series and being part of the ministry team at St Mary’s cooperating parish.

New LBC Centre For Graduate Studies

The new Lanka Bible College Centre for Graduate Studies recently dedicated the first phase of its building in Colombo, Sri Lanka. Rev. Stuart Brooking, Executive Director of the Overseas Council Australia was the chief guest. A college spokesman said, ‘We were fortunate to have had him at this very special event in the life of our College.’ The service of dedication was witnessed by representatives of all denominations and church organisations in Colombo.

All graduate level programmes will now be offered through the new Centre. LBC already works with several universities and has been offering university validated degrees in leadership development and education at Bachelors and Masters Level. LBC invites anyone interested in teaching the Masters level programmes at LBCS, to contact the college at

Dr. John Stott Retires from Public Ministry

Dr. John Stott has announced that, having reached the age of 86 in April, he will retire from public ministry after speaking at the Keswick Convention in July 2007. He will move from his flat in London, where he has lived for more than thirty years, to a retirement community for Anglican clergy in the south of England. Although Dr. Stott’s retirement means that he no longer intends to engage in public speaking ministry, he continues to hold the titles that express his honoured role in several contexts, including: Founder and Honorary President of the Langham Partnership International; Rector Emeritus at All Souls Church, Langham Place; Extra Chaplain to the Queen; and Honorary Chair of the Lausanne Movement.

Coming from an atheistic background and after studying at Cambridge University, he was ordained in 1945 and became curate and then rector of All Souls (his home church) until 1975. Dr Stott became well known for his strategic conference and teaching ministry around the world, especially with university students, giving him prominence as one of the most influential international evangelical leaders. Dr Stott is also the author of many books including Basic Christianity, (explaining the message of Christianity, and convince its readers of its truth and importance), The Cross of Christ, Issues Facing Christians Today, Evangelical Truth and many expositional commentaries. His authorized biography was written in two volumes by Timothy Dudley-Smith (1999, 2001).

Dr Stott was an key leader in the Evangelical Alliance movement, coining one of its early slogans, ‘The furtherance of the gospel, the defence and confirmation of the gospel, the fellowship of the gospel’ (based on words from Phil. 1) and was responsible for the idea which gave birth to the Theological Commission’s flagship journal, Evangelical Review of Theology.

Book Reviews

D.A. Carson (editor), New Testament Commentary Survey, 6th Edition (Michigan: Baker Academic, 2007) (Pb, pp 160, Name index).

This useful Survey has been updated to be current as of early 2006, with information on American and British publishing in particular. With clear explanations of the parameters used in selecting books for notice and evaluations of them, it includes discussions about types of commentaries, the relative value of series in comparison with individual works, and listings of various sets, including those definitely worth noting through to those at the other end of the line, not omitting older classics. Another section reviews NT introductions (including the author’s own co-written 2005 volume) and theologies (Marshall’s 2004 work eclipses Ladd). Then follows the main part of the Survey with 21 parts, about 100 pages in all, on each of the NT books or groups. Recent and in some cases related books are covered with a frank, often extended, appraisal of each, including those that receive a negative comment, old, re-printed, and out of print titles. The aim, to enlighten ‘theological students and ministers [not “the mature scholar”] with a handy survey of the resources, especially commentaries, that are available in English’, is well met, providing account is taken of the author’s own biases. However, each succeeding edition grows larger making the name index and especially the final chapter—‘Best Buys’—increasingly useful. So for Mark it is France; Luke, Bock; John, Keener; Romans, Moo; 1 Corinthians, Thiselton; Philippians, O’Brien; Hebrews, Ellingworth; and Revelation, Beale.

Michael Nazir-Ali, Conviction and Conflict: Islam, Christianity and World Order (London: Continuum, 2006); ISBN 0-8264-8615-0; Pb., pp 186, ind.

In this book, Dr Michael Nazir-Ali, who holds Pakistani and British citizenship, presents his Scott Holland Lectures (delivered in 2005 at Oxford) and provides a wide-ranging discussion of some of the key factors involved in Christian, Muslim (and Jewish) attitudes towards vital national and global issues affecting us today. The author, who is the first non-white diocesan Bishop in the Church of England, makes good use of his personal experience, learning and earlier writings in giving insight (increasingly from a Christian standpoint as the book progresses) on such important topics as religious dialogue; ethnic, religious and national conflict; peace-making; democracy; and terrorism and poverty. The background, origin and growth of these faiths and their basic beliefs are examined to clarify their own internal dynamics, to understand relationships between them and to explain their impact on their own societies and the world. More importantly, the author proposes lines of thought, policies and practical measures to promote harmony and mutual respect. The penultimate chapter in particular is quite explicit in offering advice on political action to resolve endemic problems such as those plaguing the Middle East. Based on authoritative sources (with plenty of leads for further study) the material is readily accessible to the non-specialist (chapter 4 excepted). As such this book is a worthwhile guide for any Christian who is grappling with contemporary developments in the world from a religious perspective.