Congratulations to IBTSC Alumnus

May 18th, 2017

 

We are please to copy and carry this announcement from American Baptist Churches USA and to Congratulate a recent alumni of IBTSC Amsterdam.

VALLEY FORGE, PA (ABNS 5/9/17)—On Monday, May 8, the Board of General Ministries met at Springhill Suites in Chicago to elect Reverend Dr. Lee B. Spitzer to the position of General Secretary of American Baptist Churches USA. Dr. Spitzer’s name was brought forward to the Board of General Ministries by the General Secretary Search Committee. Over the past several months the Search Committee had interviewed numerous candidates. After much prayer, discernment, and deep discussion, the committee identified Dr. Spitzer as the candidate best suited to lead American Baptists forward.

Gill’s Promotion

May 12th, 2017

He is smiling now. We are pleased to announce the successful PhD defence and ‘Promotion’ of Gil Dueck at the Vrije Universiteit which took place on Wednesday 10th May. Gill’s Thesis was entitled: ‘A Transformative Moment:
Emerging Adult Faith Development in Conversation with the Theology of James E. Loder’. We extend our congratulation to Gil and to his family, his wife, parents, and children who traveled to be present.

We also congratulate his IBTSC supervisor Dr Parush Parushev and his Vrije Universiteit supervisor Prof. Dr Fernando Enns. Not present on the day we also extend our congratulations to his co-supervisor Prof. Dr Nancey Murphy.

A good day.

America First

May 4th, 2017

  ‘…our fundamental values …are not our policies’ – so said Rex Tillerson the US Secretary of State in his recent address to State Department employees.

At the heart of a speech that ranged over a wide range of contemporary world issues was the question of how to translate “America First” into foreign policy. Tillerson understands “America First” as a call to secure America’s national security and economic interests. He was at pains to stress that the American values around freedom, human dignity and the way people are treated never change but policy, in the pursuit of “America First”, may.

I think someone needs to point out to Mr Tillerson that this dualism doesn’t work. Values are evidenced by what we do, not what we say. What happens in practice betrays our values and convictions irrespective of whatever creeds, constitutions or value statements we print on paper. It’s not for nothing that theologian James McClendon argued that ‘…virtues have their home in connection with particular practices whose pursuit evokes exactly those virtues’ or, as Jesus put it so succinctly in the Sermon on the Mount, ‘by their fruit you will know them’.

Furthermore, “America First” is a value statement that of necessity puts the freedom and human dignity of non-Americans if not second, certainly of secondary consideration. Tillerson said that one of the most difficult things he’s thought about is how to advance all of these things – “America First” and the values of freedom and human dignity – simultaneously.  I’m not surprised.

It may be that the residual memory of the values of freedom and human dignity may ameliorate some of the ambitions of the present administration and the policies that emerge under “America First”. It may be that the realities of global interdependence and need for cooperation – which Tillerson acknowledges – act as a restraint on what might otherwise be a thoroughly myopic strategy, but make no mistake about it, “America First” is the new determinant value.

Every government has a responsibility to seek the welfare, wellbeing and safety of its people, including the American government. The level of abuse and exploitation of people by corrupt governments around the world signals the need for voices to call out evil and deploy resources to defend the weak.  But, it’s a short step from “America First” to “to hell with the rest”. When the irreconcilable nature of these competing values becomes clear, let’s pray that freedom and human dignity win out.

Contributed by David McMillan

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