Commissions

Theological News Apr 2008 Vol 37 No 2

04.28.2008

Contents

Excerpts

Networking Theologians - Executive Director Travels in South East Asia

During Feb 2008, Dr David Parker, Executive Director of the WEA TC, travelled in three countries in South East Asia to meet with various groups of local and international theologians, participate in conferences, visit seminaries and discuss TC work with leaders of national evangelical fellowships. In Manila, he took part in the 4th annual Theological Forum with its theme of poverty sponsored by Asian Theological Seminary in cooperation with other organisations, where he spoke on global evangelical perspectives. He also met with members of the Asian Graduate School of Theology and the Philippines Council of Evangelical Churches (see also separate story).

In Thailand, the main purpose of the visit was to participate in the Lausanne Theology Working Group’s consultation which studied “The Whole Church” and also discussed proposals for the strategies and program of the third Lausanne Congress on World Evangelisation to be held in 2010. Dr Justin Thacker of EA UK also represented the TC at this conference (see separate story). Dr Parker visited the Chiang Mai Theological Seminary, a recently established school, presenting details of the TC program and discussing trends in theology and theological education.

Singapore was the final part of the two week travel program, where about 40 theologians from various seminaries were invited to Singapore Bible College for a morning of sharing and discusion on important issues facing the church in the region. Dr Parker spoke about contemporary developments in theology which the TC had tackled in recent years including evangelical social engagement, the theology of theological education, the environment and the church in Africa. Dr Parker also met with leaders of the Evangelical Fellowship of Singapore and its Theological Commission to explore ways in which there could be closer cooperation and the development of theological reflection in the area.

‘Networking of theologians for the development of the church and sharing of the gospel is one of the important functions of the TC,’ said Dr Parker, ‘so experiences like these are of high priority in our work.’ In April, Dr Parker will travel in South America to continue this activity and to make plans for the TC’s annual event which is scheduled to be held in that region in 2009.

Theological Forum on Poverty Held in Manila

‘The Church and Poverty in Asia’ was the theme of a highly successful theological forum conducted by Asian Theological Seminary (ATS) in Manila, Philippines, Feb 7–8, 2008. It was attended by about 900 people from a wide range of backgrounds who completely filled the venue, Union Church of Manila (UCM). One of the key features of the event was the well planned and deeply spiritual worship sessions which opened and closed the two day event, and included local music and rhythmic movement to the accompaniment of traditional instruments as well as classic hymns and liturgy.

There were three plenary speakers and almost thirty workshops presentations. Dr Charles Ringma, a well loved former faculty member of ATS, opened the forum with a wide ranging paper titled, ‘Liberation Theologians Speak to Evangelicals: a theology and praxis in serving the poor.’ Later Dr Samuel Jayakumar of India spoke with conviction using many personal illustrations on ‘The Church’s Solidarity with the Poor.’ The closing address was given by Ms Ruth Callanta, President of the Centre for Community Transformation of the Philippines. The workshops which attracted enthusiastic participants covered topics as diverse as local church involvement, biblical exegesis, children’s interests, medical aspects, the role of radio, Christian education, and pastoral training. Dr David Parker, Executive Secretary of the WEA Theological Commission, discussed ‘Global Evangelical Theological Perspectives on Poverty.’

Selected papers from the Forum will be published in book form in October 2008 by ATS in cooperation with OMF Literature Philippines.

Papers from the three previous forums have also been published and are available from the publishers.

Forum organizer, Dr Timotheo Gener, said that he was extremely pleased with the event and expressed his sincere appreciation for the outstanding work done by ATS staff and volunteers to make the forum a success. ATA was joined by UCM and Radio DZAS as co-sponsors.

These groups and other Christian organisations had displays of their ministries and samples of their materials at the many booths throughout the building.

For more information, contact info@ats.ph

Africa’s Vital Role in World Christianity

South African Theological Seminary sponsored a conference August 17–18, 2007 at Brayanston Johannesburg which tackled the key role of Africa in world Christianity. The topic was ‘The Rest To The West-Now Is The Time For Africa!’ One of the key speakers, Floyd McClung, speaking about the historical development of missions and the task of theological educators forming World Christians, said, ‘The greatest growth, the greatest openness and the greatest moves of God’s spirit are happening in Asia, Africa, Latin America and increasingly, in the Middle East. We need to build our work among the people we want to reach and mobilize. There are hundreds and thousands of teachable, dedicated emerging leaders in the nations of Africa who are crying out for training and mentoring.’

He added, ‘Africa has a pivotal role to play in reaching the world for Christ, beginning in Africa where poverty and war is the accepted lifestyle! There is a great hunger for the gospel in Africa and many Christian leaders are moving throughout the continent teaching, training and discipling, sometimes under quite difficult conditions.’ The ‘Theological Higher Education’ (THE) conference, which was attended by about 200 participants, comprising pastors, students and institution heads, is part of an annual series. According to the organisers, it is ‘an effort to promote discussion and debate amongst Private Christian Higher Educators. We tend to select topics that are not particularly the “norm” in order to challenge Christian educators.’

Other speakers included Martin de Lange who covered the practices and faith of Muslims. ‘Community Outreach’ was the topic of Craig Rowe who advocated the development of an intellectual foundation for engagement with the community, and the integration of the key aspects mission, teaching and research of the higher education institutions’ with service providers and communities.

Other topics were ‘Fundraising for Missions’ (Graham Wood), ‘How Research Results benefit Missions’ (Peter Vumisa), and ‘The Pastor and Leadership Training’ (Deryck Stone) In his paper, ‘The Christian Educator in Global Christianity’, Professor Arthur Song urged evangelical Christian educators to become aware of the multi-dimensional implications that Postmodernism imposes on Global Christianity.

The next THE conference will be held in August 2008 and will focus on ‘The Bible and Ethics.’ A call for papers has been issued. Submission of proposals in areas dealing with ethical questions related to topics such as bio-ethics, communications media, the government and politics should be made by 1 May, 2008 and sent to SATS at email:jenny@sats.edu.za.

TC supports Lausanne Theology Group on ‘The Whole Gospel’

The WEA Theological Commission supported the Lausanne Theology Group’s (LTWG) consultation on ‘The Whole Gospel’

held at Chiang Mai, Thailand, Feb 12–15, 2008. More than 30 people from 24 countries participated in the conference, the second in a series to prepare for the Lausanne congress, Cape Town 2010. The previous conference was held in February 2007 and served as a introduction to the series. The WEA was represented at Chiang Mai by Dr David Parker, Executive Director of the Theological Commission, Dr Justin Thacker, TC member and head of theology for EA UK and Rose Dowsett (Missions Commission.) Other members of the WEA are involved in the program planning and participation for the Cape Town event as well as its overall direction. (See Dr Thacker’s reflection in Verbum, page 4.)

Led by Dr Chris Wright, International Director, Langham Partnership International, and convenor of the LTWG, the Chiang Mai consultation listened to the series of plenary papers on major topics, supported by a number of short papers and case studies dealing with particular situations around the world. The plenary speakers included Jonathon Bonk, USA (Gospel and Ethics), Mark Chan, Singapore (Gospel and the achievement of the cross), Kwabena Asamuah-Gyadu, Ghana (Gospel and the power of the Spirit) and Ruth Padilla de Borst (Gospel in Mission and Culture). The opening paper was presented by Dr Wright on ‘The gospel in biblical revelation.’

Case studies covered topics such as working with the poor in Philippines (Athena Gorospe), the Breakthrough ministry in Hong Kong (Philemon Choi), hospitality in USA (Joon-Sik Park), the songs of the Dinka people in the Sudan (Isaiah Dau) and proclaiming the gospel in an Eastern Orthodox context (Emile Bartos).

Members of the Lausanne Strategy Working Group were present at the conference and gave a detailed outline of their group’s plans in the lead up to the Cape Town congress. Various reports and papers from the Chiang Mai conference are being submitted to those planning the Cape Town congress. Convenor Dr Wright said about the consultation, ‘We took a step back to our biblical roots and to the historical roots of the Lausanne movement. In so doing we were taking a significant step forward in recalling the evangelical movement to articulate and demonstrate the wholeness of the gospel as we face the awesome challenges of the present world.’

The next consultation will be held in January 2009 and will feature as its subject ‘The Whole Church.’