Theological News Jul 2010 Vol 39 Nos 1-3



PDF Download: Click Here 


(for a full copy of this issue, contact WEA TC on

Progress for Theological Commission – a report by the Chairman, Dr Thomas Schirrmacher

I am very pleased to be able to report on progress with the work of the Theological Commission since I was invited by the International Director of WEA to take over leadership early in 2010. It was a heavy burden to come to understand the many aspects of the work so quickly, but I am happy to say that we are making good progress.

There have been a number of changes in people involved in the work of the TC. Some of the programs and activities have also changed. We expect to have a meeting of the TC early in 2011 to review recent events and plan for the future. I welcome input on these matters and will keep you informed of developments.

It is good to know that our journal, Evangelical Review of Theology is being published on time each quarter. Long-time editor Dr David Parker is back as Executive Editor, with myself as General Editor. Dr Parker is a good choice, as I feel well equipped when evaluating contributions from all over the world, but I am not a native English speaker (which is true of the majority of Evangelicals!). So I am glad to have a skilled English speaking editor on my side. We two also edit the Theological News. A new website with blogs and regular news will also be ready soon. Theological News will be maintained as a pdf file every three month.

One of my tasks as chair of the TC has been to visit high ranking leaders of non-Evangelical churches, like the Ecumenical Patriarch in Istanbul, the Syrian and the Armenian Patriarchs in Istanbul, Cardinal Thurau in the Vatican or the Apostolic Vicar in Kathmandu, Nepal. The goal is not to weaken evangelical theology, but to give them a fair presentation of our views over a lot of prejudices around and to assure friendship for times of common need, eg, political persecution or press campaigns.

We also want to ensure that whenever theological consultations take place on an international level, we take part and present our case. We have been involved in some of these events recently, and we are now building up a list and network of people who can represent us. We were represented at the World Mission Conference in Edinburgh, Scotland 2010, and will be represented at the Third Lausanne Congress in Cape Town. Dr Rolf Hille, former chair of the TC, is WEA’s specialist for ecumenical relations and thus visits many ecumenical meetings. In this position he still belongs to TC and still speaks at our consultations.

In September 2009 three WEA commissions (Religious Liberty, Missions and TC) and the Lausanne Theological Working Group ran a consultation on the Theology of Suffering (see links at for details).

The TC together with the RLC is an integral part of the ongoing process to draft a code of ethics for mission. Several meetings on Geneva and Rome brought this important document between Vatican, World Council of Churches and WEA near to final form. At the same time our own WEA code is under way and will be finalised after the bigger one has been launched.

I also had the privilege to lecture at the All-Asian TEE conference in Kathmandu. It was the first time they had met for 25 years! The TC of WEA (then still WEF) was instrumental in starting TEE in Asia around 1970 and I could pass on the greetings from John Langlois, who at that time helped to inaugurate TEE in Asia through the TC.

John Langlois visited the jubilee conference of the Asian Theological Association in Hongkong, which also came to life during his time with the TC (See the report on page 2).

Overall I am happy that we are making good progress, despite difficulties, and invite your support and response.

New Book by TC Study Unit Addresses Rapid Church Growth

A Study Unit of the Theological Commission led by Dr Matt Cook has published a book on contextual theology, Local Theology for the Global Church. The Study Unit prepared for the book by extensive email discussion and then met in Oxford in August 2008 to share papers. These papers have now been edited by some of the participants including Rob Haskell, Ruth Julian, and Natee Tanchanpongs under the leadership of Dr Cook. The 256 page book is published by William Carey Library (ISBN 9780878081110).

Subtitled, ‘Principles for an Evangelical Approach to Contextualization’, this welcome volume focuses on the need to develop local theologies which becomes more and more urgent in the light of the rapid growth of the church in the global south. It charts a path forward through exegetical, theological and cultural analysis by scholars who are wrestling with the issues in their own situations around the globe. Copies may be ordered through your local bookstore or direct to the publisher,

Doctoral Consultation

Representatives of leading doctoral programmes of the evangelical majority world held a historic first-ever meeting in Beirut, Lebanon, 3-6 March 2010. The event, hosted by ICETE and co-sponsored by Langham Partnership International and Overseas Council International, was designed to enable ongoing relational space for such programmes, and thereby to facilitate dialogue and collaboration in pursuing quality leadership formation at the highest levels.

Issues covered in the seminar included the variety, opportunities, and problematics of these emerging doctoral programmes in the majority world; validation, accountability, and quality assurance; contextual relevancy; trends at doctoral level in global academia; and modes for encouraging greater collegiality between evangelical doctoral programmes in the ‘west’ and in the ‘south’. Participants in the Consultation also adopted the ‘Beirut Benchmarks’, which identifies common standards of achievement suitable for quality doctoral programmes anywhere in the world.

The Consultation was held on the campus of the Arab Baptist Theological Seminary in Beirut. Participants included invited delegates from Latin America, Africa, and Asia. A follow-up consultation is planned for October 2011.