Vienna and Vienna again…

March 27th, 2017

In the past two weeks I have been in Vienna twice to participate in two EBF conferences.

The first of these was the EBF Younger Leaders’ Programme TRANSFORM held from 15-18 March. Present were six men and five women who had been identified by their Baptist Unions or Conventions as having gifts and potential to exercise leadership in a wider setting with an international dimension. The focus of this gathering was on discipleship and I contributed around themes of: less conventional biblical images of discipleship as leadership, the communal nature of discipleship, and the practices of discipleship. Perhaps a key theme which emerged through all of this was how we deal with and respect different cultural contexts which influence biblical interpretation.

After a few days back in Amsterdam I returned for the  joint conference of EBF Mission and Evangelism Commission and Youth and Children Workers.

At this conference I had the task of ‘re-imagining’ discipleship, the Church, and mission. Of course whether what I offered was a re-imagining would depend upon how people imagined these things in the first place! On this again, contextual, cultural, and hermeneutical come into play. This said, I would suggest that re-imagining these issues begins by us not separating these issues, or arguing which one has priority, but rather by viewing them as integrated in the call, challenge, and grace of Jesus Christ which takes priority. In so far as we can talk about them separately I drew upon the work of the late Athol Gill to offer the biblical images of…Following Jesus, Friends for the Journey, and Engaging the Powers as perspectives from which to view discipleship, Church, and mission respectively. In viewing each on in this way one cannot really talk about them without reference to the others.

Part of the pleasure in being in Vienna was to see the great and developmental work being carried out by the Baptist Church there under the leadership of Walter Klimt and his team. To be honest they are embodying what I was talking about in a clear way. Below is Walter beginning the Conference speaking about Luke 4.

 

Stuart

Alec Gilmore: EBF & IBTSC

March 15th, 2017

Alec Gilmore was a long time friend and colleague at IBTS in Prague. Alec came to visit us for the first time at IBTS Centre in Amsterdam during the January colloquium.  Follow the link to read Alec’s reflections on his visit and Tony Peck’s appreciation of Alec’s ministry.

Much of the material on our website has has been rewritten recently and, helpful as ever, Alec has kindly offered to proof read and standardize the text. We are grateful to him for all he’s done in the past and his continued support in such a practical way.

http://ebf.org/alec-gilmore-a-significant-contribution-to-ebf-life

‘Prophetic’ theological education

March 4th, 2017

In a previous post I raised the question of what is the ‘theological’ in theological education? In so doing I was pointing to the CEBTS conference in 2018.

Here is one example from ‘The Institute of Middle East Studies ‘of such theological work on the nature of theological education that others could learn and reflect on…Theological Education as Formation for Prophetic Ministry

What is the ‘theological’ in theological education?

February 15th, 2017

In 2018 IBTSC Amsterdam will again take the lead in arranging a meeting of the Consortium of European Baptist Theological Schools. The final dates and venue have yet to be confirmed but it is likely to happen at the end of June 2018.

The theme of this conference gathering will be ‘What is the “theological” in theological education?’ This will be an invitation to think theologically about the practice.

It could be argued that at times it appears that the only thing that makes theological education ‘theological’ is the content, an emphasis which may or may not be accompanied by a focus on education.

The main question invites the potential for a range of trajectories, some perhaps provocative and the following only offered as examples…

‘Is talk of formation a myth, if not, how do we know that it has taken place, how does it take place, where does it take place, and how do we measure it?’

‘Is ministerial “training” different from theological “education”?’

‘Does the theological school need to be free from the Church as well as the State in order to serve the Church?’

‘In-church training is all the rage, is it a false panacea?’

‘How does the theological school serve the Church?’

‘Should and how can the theological school be prophetic?’

‘What has bread and wine got to do with books and seminars in a day and age when much education is distance and part-time?’

There will be a call for papers at the end of the year.

 

 

 

I guess they knew I’m a Baptist

February 7th, 2017

The below  is part of a reconstruction from dozens of confessions given to FBI agents as recorded by Will Willimon in this book.

“So I drove myself to American Cab, checked my sheets with Mr. Norris and Mr.O. C. Berry. I went outside and I seen two Yellow Cabs pull up. One driven by Rector, the others by Marvin Fleming. They had gone and got whiskey at Poinsett and were liquored up good. I guessed. They knew I’m a Baptist. I don’t need to get drunk to do right’.

The ‘right’ which he was going to do was to take an untried and convicted ‘negro prisoner’ from prison and kill him.

This albeit reconstruction demonstrates a mind set which clearly appeared to be internally consistent including with the Christian faith: a faith in which liquor is bad but killing a man is okay. In the laboratory of history, this sort of mindset has been exposed as racist, ignorant, and woefully distant from any expression of the Christian faith which places, as does the Christian Scriptures itself, the person of Jesus at the centre of God’s revelation in history.

Here and there on social media a claim is currently made along the lines – ‘you are calling this racist to shut down freedom of speech’.

No, to name something racist is to call it out for what it is – to discriminate against a person on the basis of their race. Racism: ‘Showing or feeling discrimination or prejudice against people of other races, or believing that a particular race is superior to another’.

To be sure some people may choose to so discriminate and indeed posture some sort of moral high ground by asserting their right to do so.

They may indeed feel that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights when it states that ‘Laws must not treat people differently because of their race, sex or way of life’ is just ‘liberal’ and requires to be pushed aside by a ‘conservative’ ‘saying it like it is’.

None of the above, however, makes the content or manner of expression right.

Rather with Willimon Christians centred on Jesus Christ are invited to see ‘racism as an opportunity for Christian to honestly name sin and engage in acts of “detoxification, renovation, and reparation”‘.

A fuller review of this book will appear in a future edition of one of our Journals, but there feels an urgency about its message…like the urgency of a man beaten on a road and needing a Samaritan to come past…

Stuart Blythe

 

 

Hughey Lectures 2017 on Baptist and Anabaptist Peace Witness

January 26th, 2017

IBTSC Amsterdam Hughey Lectures in January 2017 were delivered by the internationally renown Baptist historian Dr Ian Randall. The focus of this year lectures was on Baptist and Anabaptist peace witness between the First and Second World Wars. It was good to see more than 40 people gathered for the event, including IBTSC friends and alumni. IBTSC is thankful to Tyndale Seminary who provided their chapel for the conference day.
The first lecture explored British Baptist involvement in the peace movement, and the second lecture analysed the development and role of Bruderhof community as they taught and lived out the message of non-violence. However, the practice of reconciliation and peace was not always easy nor straightforward. Baptist positions fluctuated between statements, such as “we are forced into this war” and “a nation cannot wage a war to the glory of God”. It was also thought provoking to see how changed situations forced a number Baptists – who are, after all, a convictional community – to change their positions regarding war.
In next lecture, the speaker led the audience into a better understanding of Bruderhof community, and their links with Quakers’ peace message. Eberhard Arnold, the founder of the Bruderhof, was well educated and aware of theological and philosophical ideas of the time, but found the convictions of discipleship of Anabaptists to be most relevant for Christian life and practice. These believers, that included members from different denominations, were convinced: “Under no circumstances will any member of our communities join the fighting forces or do any alternative form of service.” However, this caused both political and popular opposition and persecution towards these believers, and they were forced to emigrate to Paraguay. From there, their story continued…
The participants noted how relevant the topic was for the present context in Europe and in the world. Or, in prayerful words of Baptist Times from 21 December 1917: “Lead us back into the paths of peace from which, like lost sheep, so many in these days have gone astray.”

Toivo Pilli

2017 Hughey Lectures Delivered by Ian Randall

December 14th, 2016

ian

Wednesday 18 January 2017
First lecture 9:30-10:45, coffee 10:45-11:15, second lecture 11:15-12:30

Ian M. Randall is a Senior Research Fellow of IBTSC Amsterdam and Research Associate of the Cambridge Centre for Christianity Worldwide.  His is the author of numerous books, including The English Baptists of the Twentieth Century (2005), Rhythms of Revival: The Spiritual Awakening of 1857-1863 (2010), and a study of the Bruderhof Community’s spirituality – Church Community is a Gift of the Holy Spirit (2014).

He will deliver two lectures on the theme of ‘Baptist and Anabaptist Peace Witness: From the First to the Second World Wars’.

Lecture 1

English Baptists and the Peace Movement

 Lecture 2

An Anabaptist Witness: the Bruderhof Community

The event will take place in the Chapel of Tyndale Theological Seminary, Egelantierstraat 1, 1171 Badhoevedorp, Amsterdam.

For further information contact David McMillan mcmillan@ibts.eu

While there is no charge for the lectures, those attending will be required to meet their own travel, accommodation, and subsistence costs in Amsterdam.

Congratulations Dr Blythe

November 10th, 2016

Dr Blythe prepared and ready for graduation.The staff at IBTS Centre congratulate the Rector on his recent graduation with an MEd (Distinction).

Dr Blythe undertook the programme in order to enhance his understanding and skills in higher education. His research and dissertation were an investigation into the issues of distance supervision of non-resident international students. The outcome of that reserach will enhance the Centre’s capacity to provide a high standard of support for students undertaking PhD research.

Dr Blythe is deeply commited to build on the legacy of the previous two incarnations of IBTS and with his commitment to excellence, lead IBTS Centre Amsterdam in the service of the Christian church in its mission and ministry in Europe and beyond through internationally focused, European based, baptistic theological education.

As staff we are privileged to work with him and under his leadership. Congratulations boss!