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Theological News Apr 2009 Vol 38 No 2

04.03.2009

Contents

(To read a PDF version of WEA Theological News April 2009, visit http://www.worldevangelicals.org/news/TN_19_online-2.pdf)

Excerpts

TC Shares with Lausanne Theology Working Group in Lead-up to Cape Town 2010

Twenty-five theologians, from 12 countries and 5 continents, met in Panama City, Jan 26-30, 2009, to discuss ‘The Whole Church’ in preparation for the third Lausanne Congress on World Evangelization Cape Town, South Africa 2010. This was the third meeting of the Lausanne Theology Working Group (LTWG) in partnership with The World Evangelical Alliance Theological Commission, previous ones being held in Kenya (2007) and Thailand (2008). The TC was represented by Chairman, Dr Justin Thacker (UK), Dr Rolf Hille (Germany) and Dr Daniel Salinas (Paraguay) (see picture).

The conference featured daily Bible studies from 1 Peter, and an intense program of plenary and small groups. Using a mixture of plenary papers and more specific case studies, topics covered included the whole church in the whole Bible, the church in its diversity as a transformed and transforming society committed to wholeness, and the church as a blessing to the nations. Dr Thacker said the viewpoints were diverse but ‘what appeared as initially disparate perspectives often coalesced in surprising ways.’ He noted that ‘Other recurring issues included the ethnocentrism that often causes us to view one ecclesiological form as superior to others, the utilitarianism that leads us to champion pragmatics over virtue, and the syncretism that allows the gods of money, power and status to drive out the Christ-like qualities that should characterise our communal life.’ Yet he concluded that the group was sure that its beliefs ‘must be grounded in and derive their meaning and purpose from our confession of the One God in Three Persons.’ Therefore, he said, ‘the church is not merely for keeping safe the elect till the day of judgement, or a spiritual welfare agency to deliver services to the poor. Rather, in God’s sight, the One Church has an inherent goodness, meaning and purpose derived from its identity in Him.’

Dr Salinas said, ‘Soon into the meetings we realized the topics were complex and if anyone had the expectation of a quick consensus it was deflated from the very start. Our world today evades easy characterizations and pat answers. It is very different from what it was when the Lausanne Covenant was written in 1974. There are so many new challenges and opportunities that demand theological analysis. Even to define "church" is not that easy much less to find what its mission is supposed to look like.’ However he said, ‘There was a consensus that the Holy Spirit might be doing some new things we are not aware of and therefore we need to be careful in our definitions of what a church is on order not to leave out some of the people of God.’ Dr Salinas, who works with Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship in Latin America and joined the TC team for the conference, concluded, ‘Even if we did not come to a common understanding of the magnitude and the identity of the challenges of today, we came to some clear recommendations. For example, in the need for a theological understanding of mission we recommend to put aside the pragmatism and goal oriented emphasis and work toward a more holistic approach to the mission of the church.’

Papers from the conference are being prepared for publication in Evangelical Review of Theology, and the findings are being synthesised for input into the planning for Lausanne 2010. The final consultation in this series will be held in Beirut early in 2010 with the topic, ‘The whole world.’ The results all four LTWG/TC gatherings will be integrated to form the theological grounding for the Cape Town Congress.

The Future of Evangelical Theology in Francophone Africa

A conference on "The future of Evangelical Theology in Francophone Africa" will be held at Bangui Evangelical School of Theology, Central African Republic 18-21 May, 2009 featuring as key speakers Dr Tite Tienou, Dr Henri Blocher, Dr Solomon Andria, Dr Isaac Zokoue and Dr Kamana.

The aim of the conference is to look at the theological work done in the last thirty years and then prepare the way for new efforts in the light of the current situation of the African society. An announcement for the conference said, "Thirty years ago, Dr Byang Kato published his book Theological Pitfalls in Africa. In the same period, Dr Tite Tienou published his Tâche théologique en Afrique (Theological Task in Africa). These two publications were the starting point for a theological reflection within the young evangelical association which was created, the Association of Evangelicals in Africa (AEA). Thirty years later, the time has come to know whether the interest in theological thinking has disappeared. At the time of the creation of AEA and the publication of the above-mentioned books, the African continent was driven by theological thoughts imported from the West, namely Europe and America. Nowadays, Africa has its theologians, its specialists in different fields of theology. More than this, the continent is going to be, in the next decade or so, the 'stronghold' of Christianity in the world. As some historians have pointed out, Africa will determine the future of Christianity for the two or three coming centuries. Is Francophone Africa ready to assume such an historic role?

There will be three stages to the conference: open discussion, round table for exchange and further development of ideas, and workshops where participants will be able to meet according to their interest groups. It is hoped that the conference will be an occasion for exchanges among theologians, but also an opportunity to create a common perspective for the beginning of deep evangelical reflection on the continent.

The conference is open to all who are interested in African Evangelical Theology. But for reasons of efficiency, the number of participants is limited to 35 to 40 people. Pastors, teachers, missionaries, leaders of Christian organizations, and students are welcome.

For further information about fees and registration, contact administration@fateb.net

Theological Education in Nepal

Association for Theological Education in Nepal (ATEN)Dr Ramesh Khatry has recently been appointed Executive Director of the for a further five year term. In operation since 1993, ATEN consists of 28 members (Bible schools, colleges and church groups) and aims to attract Christians who are either involved in the teaching/preaching ministry or are students attending various Bible colleges around Kathmandu. Using its library facilities in central Kathmandu, people are invited to live in the ATEN hostel for study and writing purposes.

A major project for ATEN is the attempt to establish the first university recognised Bachelor of Divinity program. After previous unsuccessful attempts, the new venture will be a five year integrated BD for students with high school and two years of college under Serampore University from June, 2012. Advanced training of staff is in process which will be helpful in this project. Although there are more than 58 Bible colleges or schools in the country, there is no recognized degree program available. A report from ATEN states, "ATEN will help a willing member Bible college/school to start the BD course. If a member Bible college for some reason cannot manage BD, ATEN will start the course in its own premises.

Dr Khatry also serves as national coordinator for Nepal Prayer Movement and a teacher for Forgiveness and Reconciliation Seminar in which ATEN partners with United Mission to Nepal (UMN). He is also contributing to the South Asia Bible Commentary series writing volumes on Romans and Revelation.

ATEN recently became a Global Member of the WEA Theological Commission. For more information about ATEN, contact info@aten.org.np or write ATEN, G.P.O. Box 4368, Kathmandu, Nepal