Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Dr Anthony R. Cross (Adjunct Supervisor at IBTSC) Lecture Trip to Ukraine, February 2018.

Friday, March 16th, 2018

 At the invitation of the All-Ukrainian Union of Evangelical Christians-Baptists Churches (AUC ECB), and its First Vice President, the Rev. Igor Bandura, Dr Anthony R. Cross visited Kiev and the headquarters of the Baptist Union in the nearby city of Irpin.  Addressing members of the AUC ECB council and the leaders of the Ukrainian Baptist educational institutions Dr Cross explored themes from his three most recent monographs: Recovering the Evangelical Sacrament: Baptisma Semper Reformandum (2013); “To communicate simply you must understand profoundly”: Preparation for Ministry among British Baptists (2016); and Useful Learning: Neglected Means of Grace in the Reception of the Evangelical Revival among English Particular Baptists (2017).

Rev. Dr Sergiy Sannikov

One of the papers Dr Cross delivered will be translated and published in the journal Theological Reflections: Euro-Asian Journal of Theology, as will an interview conducted by Oleksandr Geychenko, a Professor at Odessa Theological Seminary. Dr Cross also presented a paper at an ecumenical day conference at Dragomanov University, Kiev, on ‘Crucial Issues of Contemporary Theology: Recent Trends in the Development of Liturgical Theology’, organized by the Rev. Dr Sergiy Sannikov, a lecturer at the Odessa Baptist Seminary, a former member of the Board of Trustees of IBTSC, and also a member of the Executive Committee of the EBF. With the participation of Dr Sannikov and other Ukrainian Baptists in attendance, the day conference was yet another opportunity which showed the breadth and depth of Baptist theology, commitment to unity, liturgy, and dialogue, and is a timely reminder that there are many such opportunities for productive ecumenical engagement if we have the vision to share in them.

As of 1 January 2018 there were 2,600 churches and groups, 320 church plants, over 110,000 members in the AUC ECB, with weekly worship attendance of around 200,000. The AUC ECB is served by six seminaries, four institutes, and eleven regional colleges. Dr Cross reports that here there are great opportunities for Baptist churches, colleges and seminaries in the West to seize, not only for prayer, but to foster and develop links with Ukrainian Baptists as a genuinely and fruitful two-way reciprocal relationship which will further build Christ’s church and the spread of the gospel.

Dr Anthony Cross

Reflecting on his visit Dr Cross encourages prayer for the seminaries and colleges in the development and spread of reflection on theology and practice in dialogue with the global Baptist community as well as for the situation in the East of Ukraine, for the churches in uncontrolled territories which are required to register according to new regulations set in place and the relief aid to refugees and people in need in the occupied territory.

A more detailed report on the visit is available

Conference in Minsk

Tuesday, December 19th, 2017

Toivo Pilli, Director of Baptist and Anabaptist Studies at IBTSC Amsterdam, participated in an international conference in Minsk on 9 December 2017. EBF General Secretary Tony Peck  (UK) and Mateusz Wichary (Poland) also offered papers. The conference was organised by Minsk ECB Theological Seminary and the Institute of Evangelical Faith (Pentecostal seminary). Bringing together about 90 pastors and scholars from Byelorussia, Lithuania, Poland, the USA, and other countries, the conference commemorated the 500 years of the publication of parts of the Bible in Byelorussian and the role of Francysk Skaryna. The first book, the Psalter, translated and published by Skaryna in the Old Belorussian, was printed in Prague in 1517.

Leonid Michovich dedicates Skaryna Hall during the Minsk conference.

Toivo Pilli’s presentation ’The Bible and the Revival: An Estonian Case Study’ focused on the use of the Bible in the 19th century Pietistic Revival in Western Estonia, then part of Tsarist Russia. The revivalist believers not only used the Bible for devotional purposes and for preaching, they also used Biblical texts to interpret their newly found focus on repentance and new birth, baptism upon personal confession of faith and congregational understanding of the church. The Bible also helped these believers to explain persecution and to balance outbursts of religious emotionalism, guiding the movement towards more sustainable and stable patterns of worship.

The topics of the conference, however, included a wider panorama: the legacy of Protestant Reformation, and the use and interpretation of the Bible in the life of evangelical churches, such as the Baptists, Pentecostals and others. Within one day, in three topical tracks, 25 academic papers were delivered.  IBTSC Amsterdam continues to have close and friendly links with Minsk Theological Seminary.

Recruiting a new Director of IBTSC

Friday, November 10th, 2017

 Job title: Director of the International Baptist Theological Study Centre (IBTSC) Amsterdam

Location: The Baptist House, Postjesweg 150, 1061 AX Amsterdam.

IBTSC Amsterdam exists to help train leaders and conduct research that can aid the Christian church in its mission and ministry in Europe and beyond through internationally focused, European based, baptistic theological education. IBTSC’s primary areas of research and education lie in Anabaptist/Baptist histories and theologies, Missiology, and Practical Theology – Identity, Mission and Practice.

IBTSC is constituted as a Dutch Association (Vereniging) and is a collaborative partner within the Faculty of Theology of the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam for the delivery of a PhD programme. IBTSC is also an approved partner of the University of Manchester for an MA programme.

IBTSC is looking to appoint a suitably qualified person to the post of Director of IBTSC who will carry forward the IBTSC commitment to deliver high quality theological education and research from a baptistic perspective in an international context. As well as developing researchers, educators, and leaders who can serve the mission and ministry of churches in Europe, the Middle East and beyond, IBTSC desires to facilitate learning and theological reflection in and for the churches, pastors and theological leaders of the EBF member bodies.

Application process

Full details of salary, responsibility and duties, and person specification as well as an application form are available by contacting the IBTSC Administrator, Marianne van Zwieten ( or calling +31 20 210 3025.

Applications must be completed and returned by 28 February 2018.

Interviews will be held on 19-20 April 2018 in Amsterdam.

Appointment of a non-EU candidate will be subject to approval of a visa/work permit.

News from IBTSC

Monday, September 25th, 2017

At a meeting of the Board of IBTSC on September 21, David McMillan was appointed as Interim Rector following Stuart Blythe’s departure. David has been involved with IBTS and IBTSC for some years managing the relocation of IBTS to Amsterdam and establishing IBTSC as a legal entity in the Netherlands.  David and his wife Dorothy are members of BMS World Mission, seconded to IBTSC.

We recently produced a newsletter with lots of latest developments including the move to the new Baptist House.  Click on the picture to read the newsletter.



IBTSC Amsterdam Rector, Stuart Blythe, to take up new post with Acadia Divinity College, Nova Scotia, Canada.

Monday, July 24th, 2017

Revd Dr Stuart Blythe, Rector of IBTSC Amsterdam will be leaving IBTSC to take up a new position as Associate Professor in the John Gladstone Chair of Preaching and Worship at Acadia  Divinity College.

Dr Blythe is the first Rector of IBTSC Amsterdam, taking up the post in 2014 and steering the institution through the critical period of establishing the operation in Amsterdam.  Over the past three years Dr Blythe has successfully overseen the new partnership with the Faculty of Theology at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam and the first successful PhD promotions. In addition he has overseen the new relationship with Manchester University in the provision of the Masters programme.

Commenting on Dr Blythe’s resignation, chairman of the IBTSC board, Revd Dr John Weaver, said:

We are deeply indebted to Stuart for the leadership he has provided during the formative years of IBTSC in Amsterdam. His commitment to the students, the staff and delivery of high quality academic programmes has been outstanding. We are very sorry to lose him but recognise that this new position with Acadia provides a unique opportunity for him to develop his specialisation in homiletics. We wish Stuart every success for the future.

In his letter of resignation Dr Blythe noted that IBTSC has been successfully relocated from Prague in terms of programmes and that in the next few months the final physical relocation to the new Baptist House in Amsterdam will also be complete. Dr Blythe said:

I think that the team at IBTSC have achieved a remarkable amount in the last three years. Student numbers on the PhD programme remain good, something of a new narrative has been written, and there is the potential for a long term sustainable future. I wish nothing but the best for IBTSC. I consider this institution in its first incarnation as one of the most significant influences in my life.

Dr Blythe will take up his new position in Acadia at the end of September.

America First

Thursday, 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

Alec Gilmore: EBF & IBTSC

Wednesday, 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.

I guess they knew I’m a Baptist

Tuesday, 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