Why Does the World Need A New Generation of Theologians?

Lausanne Movement

These days, (5-9 May, 2014), a Lausanne International Leadership meeting will take place at Institut Biblique et Missionnaire Emmaus (Switzerland). One of the evening sessions will feature a panel-like discussion touching on new Lausanne initiatives.

One of my friends in Lausanne, Bobby Ryu, was asked to prepare to respond to one of the questions and has asked a few of us to suggest what would we respond to it.

Here is the question, and, below, what would be my answer.

* * *

“Bobby, you’re representing the Younger (or Emerging) Theologians Initiative, a new Initiative spearheaded by the Theology Working Group – a linking of emerging theologians with their more experienced counterparts in order to mentor and raise up a new generation of theologians for the Global Church.  My question for you is this: The world is moving towards action and application.  Even universities are abandoning courses and programs focused on thoughts and ideas.  So tell me, why does the world need a new generation of theologians?”

* * *

. The move towards application and impact of knowledge, and away from knowledge for knowledge sake in our world is a positive and necessary one. Yet, it mined with dangers on every side. If this shift is rooted in a narrow pragmatic worldview, it might lead to utilitarianism and the instrumentalisation of knowledge, and soon also of people. The test, for us, kingdom minded people is what does this approach do to the poor and marginalised, including knowledge wise. If we add to this a measurement of impact that is reduced to the quantitative, numerical aspects of reality, we are prone to a nightmare, since, as we well know, the most important things in life, faith, hope, love and justice, cannot be measured with numbers.
2. What we don;t need more of is theology for the sake of theology, understood as mere knowledge. What we need these days is to rediscover the characteristics of theology in Patristic times and in the early stage of the Reformation:
  • kerygmatic – meaning not just verbal witness, but also martyria;
  • doxological – theology as worship and as tooted in prayer and leading to growing intimacy with God, and
  • ecclesiological – community based and community building theological reflection.
To these we may need to add another one, in the spirit of Lausanne:
  • integral – aimed not just at proclaiming the good news, but also being transformational in the world, in kingdom terms.

Author: DanutM

Anglican theologian. Former Director for Faith and Development Middle East and Eastern Europe Region of World Vision International

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