четверг, 6 августа 2015 г.

New Innovations in Theological Education: An Interview With Kent Anderson

Date: 28 January 2015
Source: http://www.christianitytoday.com/edstetzer/2015/january/new-innovations-in-theological-education-interview-with-ken.html

Theological education is evolving before our eyes—programs like Immerse are changing the game. | Ed Stetzer

New Innovations in Theological Education: An Interview With Kent Anderson

For some reason, I spent a lot of time at seminaries in 2014. Some are thriving, some are shrinking, but a few are innovating. There are many reasons we don't see much innovating on the campuses on seminaries, but the need to follow accrediting requirements is one of them, to be sure. Accrediting agencies want to assure that you don’t innovate in such a way that it lessens the quality of the education being delivered.

That can make innovation tricky.

Well, the Association of Theological Schools (ATS) has approved an experimental program—for just one school, actually—to open up some new options that will be valuable for church planting and many other settings.

While speaking in Toronto recently I learned about a new accredited program that I wanted to pass on to you. Northwest Baptist Seminary, a FEB seminary which is partnered with the ACTS seminary consortium in Vancouver, calls their experimental program, “Immerse.”

I recognize that there are a lot of other seminaries doing great work. I serve on faculty at two of them, TEDS and Southeastern. But, this program has some unique opportunities and I thought I'd share them with you.

After a couple of meetings with the school president, Kent Anderson, he agreed to answer a few questions about the program in this interview!

Ed Stetzer: First, tell me about what’s unique about the Immerse program. Others have external programs, so how does this go further?

Kent Anderson: Immerse is the only program that has been approved by ATS to offer an accredited M.Div., that is entirely outcomes-based and delivered fully in context through a customizable, mastery, mentored model. The program is a deep collaboration (co-owned) with our parent denomination, Fellowship Pacific, and other networks with which we agree to partner. This is an iteration beyond online learning and describes a creative and exciting new way for church and seminary to leverage their collective strengths for the good of the Kingdom.

ES: So, you can create this partnership with other networks or denominations? Is that just in Canada?

KA: Yes, we have worked to create such partnerships with denominations, emerging networks, and more to create an M.Div. fully in their context— using a mastery model, not where they get shipped off to seminary. And, this is all done with an ATS accredited M.Div. We are the first and, so far, the only school through which this has been possible.

ES: How are students already engaging?

KA: We immediately experienced a dramatic spike in enrollment, attracting an entirely new group of emerging leaders. These people, who were completely unattracted by traditional seminary offerings, were exactly the kind of student that we have always aspired to draw, despite the fact that we raised the bar for admission as high as we possibly could. We are three years into this thing, and so far we are seeing students digging in beyond what we have typically seen through other models of education. We are also seeing, much more quickly, what kind of stuff the students have. Personal discipline and time management issues become immediately evident, for example. The cream rises quickly.

ES: What are the potential plans with C2C and Outreach Canada? How will this increase church planting capacity?

KA: As of last week, we have an agreement with C2C to offer Immerse under the C2C brand for the work of missional church planting. Outreach Canada has been fully supportive of this, welcoming us to present the program to church planting catalysts across the country. Several Canadian denominations are considering involvement. As to our parent denomination, the Fellowship Baptists, we now are empowered to offer the model coast to coast. As to church planting, the key impediment is always finding great planters. This model attacks that problem head-on. Immerse offers the opportunity for great planters to replicate themselves.

ES: What is “experimental status” and how long do you have it?

KA: The Association of Theological Schools needed a way to accredit the program despite the fact that our model is literally exceptional—it exceeds any reasonable construal of the standards that govern seminaries in North America. Their answer was to treat it as an official experiment. By this, the ATS itself has a sense of ownership and involvement in the process, putting the program on the highest possible profile. We have five years to prove our results. When we do, the ATS will have some sense of obligation to build what has been learned into the standards that effect everyone. This is an opportunity to affect the very direction of theological education.

ES: If it works, will we see other schools doing the same?

KA: We have already seen a significant amount of interest from other schools. While networks and schools will want to find their own distinct expressions, I really believe that we will see a number of schools in the future adopt these values—mastery model, context-based, outcomes focused, etc.

ES: What are you hoping to see accomplished?

KA: We want to collectively own the responsibility for the development of those who will lead our networks for the future. If we can get past the tired model of looking at seminaries as "pastor stores," I believe that we can see a dramatic increase in effective church planting and church revitalization through the development of leaders who are gifted, called, and proven for the work. This is not about building the institution or prestige of the seminary. This is all about seeing the church prosper.

ES: Is this just Canadian, or can churches in the United States (and Australia, etc) get involved?

KA: The Association of Theological Schools is a trans-national movement, so there is no reason that we cannot work with networks beyond our home base here in Canada. As a context-based program, the locus of the work is wherever the student and ministry come together on the ground. In a lot of ways, this is taking missionial thinking to the seminary level. We can help this happen anywhere.

ES: While we are talking about relationships, tell me about ACTS and how that relates to Northwest Seminary.

KA: Northwest is one of the founding partners of the ACTS seminaries consortium. For more than 25 years, we have been working together with other like-minded denominations to provide high quality ministry leadership development in collaboration with Trinity Western University. At ACTS we share everything—faculty, budget, program. This has allowed us to do more than any of us could have managed on our own. Really, it is this experience in collaboration that made it possible for Northwest to learn how to collaborate beyond our own region through models like Immerse.

Let me add that Northwest is open to conversation with any like-minded network about how we might be able to extend the Immerse platform for the good of the Kingdom.

понедельник, 3 августа 2015 г.

Jürgen Moltmann: Why I am (Still) An Evangelical

Date: July 29, 2015
Author: Jürgen Moltmann
Source: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/anxiousbench/2015/07/why-i-am-still-an-evangelical/

Jürgen Moltmann

Here I offer my contribution to the Evangelical Channel’s Theme: Why I am (Still) Evangelical.

In graduate school, I minored in theology.  During my time there, the theology department was unabashedly progressive–at least by evangelical standards.  Most students considered Jürgen Moltmann too conservative, and virtually no one had read Carl Henry.  In spite of this (or maybe because of it), I thoroughly enjoyed my theology courses and look back at them with fondness.  Despite my persistence as an evangelical (and Southern Baptist at that), I was treated with respect and courtesy in nearly every instance.  Even so, I emerged as an enigma to some of my colleagues.  During a seminar break one afternoon, one of them queried me, “How did you get so far in theological education and remain conservative [theologically]?”  He did not intend to disparage me, rather he expressed genuine befuddlement mixed with a bit of playful curiosity.  To my friend, who had himself once been evangelical, progress in theological education paralleled an abandonment of evangelical commitment. For me, the opposite was true.

I grew up in a liberal denomination. Even so, my mother had one foot in neo-Pentecostalism.  As a result, when Richard Roberts–yes, that Richard Roberts–held a revival in a nearby town, she took me to see him.  That night, as I sat in the balcony, the gospel became real to me.  Although I had understood the basic facts for a while–that God sent his Son to be the savior of the world–that night I recognized the seriousness of my own sin and my personal need for a savior and I experienced an evangelical conversion as I responded to the invitation.  Evidently, it “took.”

Noll – The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind

When I was a teenager, my family joined a local, charismatic-tinged Southern Baptist Church.  There, I encountered smart, devout people whose lives had been changed by the same gospel message that transformed me.  Although I failed to recognize it at the time, the anti-intellectualism described by Mark Nollpermeated the evangelical subculture in which I spent my teenage years.  At the same time, so did an authentic and sincere piety that nurtured my affection for Christ and grew my reverence for the Scripture.  I carried that with me to college.

At the University of Virginia, I landed in Campus Crusade for Christ (now Cru).  University life fanned my predisposition for learning while my participation in Cru nourished my faith.  In my last year, I encountered some of the smartest people I had ever known in Robert Wilken‘s Early Christian Ethics class.  Origen, Tertullian, Ambrose and others invigorated my faith and intellect and I began to understand that the two might comfortably reside together.  Sensing a real call to ministry and simultaneous desire to “love the Lord [my] God with… all [my] mind (Luke 10:27, NIV),” I pursued more education, first at a denominational seminary, then at Vanderbilt University.

At Southeastern Seminary, I completed my Master of Divinity degree in a confessional, spiritually-rich environment that emphasized evangelism, local church ministry, and biblical exposition.  At the same time, I  delved into the Bible, theology, church history, and other disciplines as taught by professors with doctorates from Aberdeen, Chicago, Hebrew Union College, and Brandeis.  There, learning and spirituality came together, deepening and reinforcing one another.  As I developed a love for church history and a desire to pursue a vocational career in academics, I continued to read the Bible.

Immanuel Kant (1724-1804)

When I moved to Nashville, I kept reading the Bible. As I did, an evangelical understanding of its overarching narrative made more and more sense–and my theology courses contributed to this.  I found my theology coursework challenging, yet intellectually invigorating.  Contrary to the experience of many, Schleiermacher, Kant, Hegel, Harnack, Schweitzer, Newman, De Lubac, Bultmann, Barth, Moltmann and others strengthened my evangelical commitment.  Schleiermacher helped me acknowledge the unmediated nature of our encounter with Christ, Kant pressed me to think more clearly about the limits of knowledge, Newman challenged me to think historically about doctrine in light of my Protestant commitment to sola scriptura, Moltmann pressed me to think about oppressive political structures as a manifestation of fallen-ness–and the list could go on.  Through struggling with these authors, my own thinking was sharpened and my own evangelical faith deepened.

And so, that day in the seminar, when my friend asked how I could remain theologically conservative in spite of my great learning (not as great as he gave me credit for, by the way), I replied somewhat glibly,”I kept reading the Bible and it kept talking about me.”  Although I certainly simplified the matter, the truth was that as I read more, learned more, and thought more, the evangelical understanding of the biblical narrative of creation–fall–judgment–redemption impressed itself upon me, continuing to recount the story of my own life while making sense of the world in a way that nothing else that I studied did.  I knew that my own life was peppered by self-deception and sin and needed the grace of God offered in Christ.  Further, I saw a world populated with human beings who regularly and vigorously sinned against one another.  They too needed the grace of God offered in Christ.  Finally, as my more progressive colleagues helped me to discern, there were (and are) sinful structures of oppression the permeated the world.  Those caught in them–as either oppressed or oppressor–need the grace of God offered in Christ, while the structures themselves need the perfect king to come in righteous judgment and tear them down.  In the end, all other explanations regarding the troubles of this world seemed insufficient, while all other solutions regarding how to address them seemed utterly inadequate.  And thus I remained (and remain) evangelical.

Why Theological Education Is Necessary

Date: 31 July 2015
Author: Geoffrey Kruse-Safford
Source: https://noihasseen.wordpress.com/2015/07/31/why-theological-education-is-necessary/

Few things are as challenging as the demand to think the faith.

Few things are as challenging as the demand to think the faith.

The guy would come to the bookstore every once in a while. Elegantly dressed, he was Senior Pastor at a large Baptist Church in the DC area. I was always intrigued by the fact that in a Seminary bookstore, he would talk down a Seminary education, even calling Seminary “Cemetery”, as if a place to educate and nurture future church leaders was really a place faith came to die. Doing this all the while buying books . . . it made my head hurt.

I sat in on a couple class meetings of a Seminar led by our then-Academic Dean,Dr. M. Douglas Meeks. The class was reading Karl Barth’s Church Dogmatics, Volume IV, Part 1 and during the very first meeting, a student asked the relevance of something as dense as Barth’s theology in the local church. Doug turned to me and offered me a chance to answer, as I had, by this time, spent time as a clergy spouse in a local church. My answer was simple and clear: Because this is what people in our churches hunger for. They may not have the technical vocabulary, but folks in the local church demonstrate a need for ways to think through and speak their faith. They look to clergy to help guide them. To be able to do that, a minimal understanding of the vocabulary and movement of Christian God-talk is necessary. That’s why there are classes on Systematic Theology, advanced classes on Biblical theology and Seminars on particular theologians. Not only is clarity of exposition necessary; knowing why our particular theology as heirs of John Wesley is distinct from Reformed, Lutheran, Baptist, and other theologies helps congregations understand who they are.

I recently got all technical with Rev. John Meunier over the matter of “truth”. Just yesterday, he published a piece about “saving souls” being the primary business of the church. Again, I am not picking on Rev. Meunier (I’m really not!!!). Still, I think it is necessary to highlight why theological education is necessary, particularly when it comes to such technical matters as questions of theological truth, the matter of “souls”, what salvation means, etc. I am going to assume, for the moment, that Meunier has, at the very least, the basic theological education, including Systematics. Continuing one’s education beyond this most basic class – really a historical and doctrinal survey class more than anything else – becomes important, particular when it comes to discussing matters of import about ministry, mission, and the nature of the Church’s proclamation. Clarity is impossible without understanding that the words we use are hardly simple or have one clear definition. One need not be involved in contemporary technical philosophical or theological discussions but still should understand that writing, say, “Wouldn’t it make more sense to found our unity and our discipline on truth?”, begs far more questions than it would seek to settle. To insist that “saving souls” is the business of the Church without being clear about what “salvation” means, about what the author means by “soul”, leads both to confusion and further questions.

The United Methodist malaise is due in no small part to our inability as a connection to have a coherent theological discussion in which all parties accept the terms of debate, from “doctrine” right up to “evangelical” (a word hijacked by particular factions in a denomination whose very identity is evangelical; thus so much of our “discussion” becomes a debate over who can call themselves such when all United Methodist, clergy and lay, are in the business of spreading the Good News of Jesus Christ). At the very least, we need to accept that the particular vocabulary of theology might well use everyday words whose commonsense understanding just doesn’t work within the context of serious God-talk.

So, to all those clergy and laity out there who think all that theological and philosophical mumbo-jumbo has nothing to do with being Church, remember: If you can’t articulate not only what you believe, but why you believe it, in ways that do justice to the specificity of the Revelation of the Trinity in Jesus Christ, then, perhaps, you need to reevaluate why you’re in ministry in the first place.