Theological News Oct 2011 Vol 40 No 4



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John Stott – Man of Complementarity by Thomas Schirrmacher

John Stott, the main author of the theological preamble of the constitution of the World Evangelical Alliance, is now seeing Jesus, who was the focus of his life in all he did, said and wrote. What is thought to be his best book, The Cross of Christ (1986), really was and is his best book and a legacy to all evangelicals: Only if the Cross of Jesus stays our centre, can we achieve unity.

For me John Stott is a role model per se for all evangelical theologians, male and female, whom the Theological Commission tries to serve, as he was an impressive master of complementarity and never was willing to emphasize an important thing at the expense of another important things. Let me state some of those complementarities by comparing John Stott to Paul – something he surely would have very much disliked!

Like Paul he was a pastor, a missionary and a great theologian at the same time. His academic theology was always aimed at the body of Christ, not his academic colleagues.

Like Paul he was a master thinker and systematic writer, trying to fill the whole faith into one short book (here Romans, there Basic Christianity, 1958), and yet he never wrote in an abstruse way to impress academics, but so that the whole church could benefit.

Like Paul he was willing to strive for the gospel and was a man of clear words – see his book Christ the Controversalist (1970). And yet he was a man of peace, a bridge-builder, someone listening to other opinions very thoroughly and trying to understand them. Through his involvement in WEA and the Lausanne Movement he brought evangelicals and evangelical theologians together on a larger scale than ever before, but not by having no standpoint or by bypassing theological discussion or biblical exegesis, but in the middle of theological debate. He was convinced that unity would not come from less good theology, but from more open studying of the Bible together across all lines.

Ethiopian Graduate School of Theology Seeks Sustainability

The Ethiopian Graduate School of Theology, located in Addis Ababa, is erecting a second building in the effort to become financially self-supporting. It opened a new six level building in 2009 and uses the tops half, with the lower levels rented out. It intends to rent out the whole of this building when the second one is completed and so develop a reliable income stream.

A recent report stated, ‘This income generation is necessary for its future stability because the EGST salary burden will increase substantially as the percentage of Ethiopian faculty increases. Expatriate faculty salaries are paid through their own mission support and not by EGST, while Ethiopian faculty are paid directly by EGST. Currently about half of the faculty is Ethiopian and half expatriate. In order to insure stability of the faculty, the goal is to have 70% Ethiopian and 30% expatriate faculty. (Ethiopian faculty generally have longer tenure than expatriates.) Candidates now in Ph.D. programs abroad will return as full-time Ethiopian faculty upon completion of their studies. Grants, contributions and student fees will not be sufficient to cover the increased cost of salaries. Therefore, rental income from the entire Phase I building will be a dependable means of generating income, resulting in  financial self-sustainability.

EGST was founded in 1997 by three church bodies and the first students enrolled in 1998. It is the only graduate level institution of its kind in the Horn of Africa and its graduates now serve many churches and other colleges. 

(EGST Focus Summer 2011)

Asian Baptist Theological Educators’ Colloquium

Sixty eight theological educators and church leaders representing seventeen seminaries and churches from thirteen countries of the Asia-Pacific region gathered at Korea Baptist Theological University/ Seminary (KBTUS), Daejeon, South Korea for the 3rd Theological Colloquium of the Asia Pacific Baptist Federation on the theme ‘Church and Environment’ from 24 to 27 January, 2011.

In the light of the growing need for stewardship of the environment and creation, the colloquium discoursed and dialogued a theological framework for assessing and formulating environmental care as a Christian responsibility. One of the strategic outcomes of the Colloquium was to establish a network of Baptist seminaries in the Asia Pacific region. Towards this, the representatives from 17 participating seminaries presented an overview of their respective institutions - specially sharing their needs and visions. It is envisaged that the network would extend mutual help between seminaries and open opportunities to share the burden or the blessings with other seminaries based on their strength and their unique needs.

Colloquium of European Evangelical Theologians from Neo-Latin Countries: a report by Leonardo De Chirico IFED – Padova (Italy)

Southern Europe is a sub-region characterized by the religious dominance of either Roman Catholicism or Eastern Orthodoxy. No lasting Reformation took place and so there has never been a deep biblical renewal. Evangelicals are minority groups that have been struggling to survive for centuries, being identified as heretics or dangerous people. Although enjoying degrees of religious freedom, Southern Europe is still a region where religious liberty and equal opportunities for all religious groups are matters of concern. So, Evangelical theology needs to be particularly interested in these issues.

The minority situation has stirred Evangelical churches to be involved in church planting in vast areas of our countries. Traditional ‘Christianity’ and more recent secularism form together the great challenge that mission has to face. What an opportunity for Evangelical theology to be at the service of churches wishing to grow instead of being trapped in intramural debates!

Our region is also marked by growing opportunities to engage in public theology. Churches are slowly overcoming the ‘ghetto’ mentality and are becoming more interested in being salt and light in society. Evangelical theology needs to equip churches to develop biblically faithful and culturally appropriate means to promote gospel transformation in the public square.

The Mediterranean sea (mare nostrum, our sea) is one of the strategic places of global events: the North African revolutions, the migrant highways, the old Middle East quarrel, etc.— they all revolve around the Mediterranean Sea. What are the responsibility of a Southern European Evangelical theology that faces these trends face to face?

Gathering all these issues together was instrumental for convening an informal colloquium of Evangelical theologians from our region. A group of twelve men from various European countries (Portugal, Spain, France, Italy and Romania) met at IFED (Istituto di Formazione Evangelica e Documentazione) in Padova, Italy, June 2-4, 2011. The colloquium discussed issues impacting theology in southern Europe and neo-Latin countries.  The conversation was characterized by the firm confidence in the power of the gospel to save people and transform society.