Kirsteen Kim is Professor of Theology and World Christianity in the School of Intercultural Studies, Fuller Theological Seminary, USA
Kirsteen Kim deals in this Lausanne article with what I consider to be one of the tragedies of present day evangelicalism: the Western financial and institutional domination of evangelicalism, in the context of a growing evangelical and Pentecostal/charismatic dynamic moving rapidly East and South.
The author suggests a number of well meaning possible solutions for ‘unlocking resource sharing’ in this context. However, I am afraid that, like in the Lausanne movement itself, unless something radical and prophetic happens, the ‘golden rule’ (meaning, ‘who has the gold, makes the rules’ ) will continue to dominate the North-South dynamic. And, for the moment, this dynamic seems to be governed more by the capitalist free market mechanism than by the principles of the Kingdom of God).
From this point of view, I am more hopeful in what secular institutions are trying to do (like the current European Union discussion that access should be TOTALLY FREE for ALL scholarly journals), than in the willingness of Christians to think and act outside of the capitalist box.
I am very curious what others think about this.
Here are a few excerpts from the article.
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A key dilemma faced by theological educators is that, whereas most students are in the South, many of the resources are in the North.
- Although, throughout the North, the overwhelming majority of church leaders have theological education, sometimes to doctoral level, overall enrolment in theological education is declining, including in evangelical schools.
- In the South, many churches are led by people without the benefit of theological education and without access to it. However, although concrete data on theological education in the South is lacking, regional theological associations report rapid growth. Moreover, some faculty at institutions in the South now have higher levels of faculty qualifications to enable them to offer doctoral degrees.
Despite the shifting picture, the absolute majority of teaching staff, scholarship funds, theological libraries and publications are still located in the North. Furthermore, the decline of theological education in the North, together with the ongoing effects of the 2008 financial crisis, has restricted the already-limited funds available from the North for theological education in the South.
Despite the financial constraints, there is much that can be done to address the current imbalance in theological education between North and South. I shall give some practical examples and suggestions of resource sharing below. However, in order for this to happen, we need the kind of theological education that encourages such sharing.
One of the reasons for the inadequate resource sharing is that theological education—both in the North and the South—is dominated by models developed to serve the institutional church of a largely homogenous community in a particular locality.
Along with the development of missional church, we need missional theological education. Becoming missional is not just a matter of adding in optional courses in ‘missiology’ or ‘global Christianity’; it requires a paradigm shift in the way the entire theological curriculum is taught. This change is happening:
- Biblical studies is recognizing the cultural and regional diversity of the early church.
- Systematic theology is taking account of the systems of thought in Asia, Africa, and indigenous peoples.
- Church history is becoming integrated with mission history, and recognizing the polycentric nature of Christian movements.
- Practical theology is focusing not only on local but also on global questions and on their interconnectedness.
When we learn through our theological education to value the whole church—diverse, multicultural, global, and interdependent—we will realize the importance of resource sharing. The Lausanne Movement can be a catalyst to speed up change, which needs to take place in the accrediting agencies as well as the institutions for theological education.
(Read HERE the entire article, to find the solutions suggested by the author to this serious problem.)