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!

Annual General Meeting

September 30th, 2016

joylee-in-front-of-slideMany of the staff of IBTSC are in Estonia for the European Baptist Federation Council and the IBTSC Annual General Meeting. At this meeting we were able to show a report of the recent promotion/graduation with PhD of Lee Spitzer an Executive Minister and Senior Regional Pastor of the American Baptist Churches.processionlee-with-supervisors

Graduation

September 16th, 2016

On Wednesday 31st August 2016 we were pleased to hold a short graduation service at Baptist House to recognise the achievement of our students in the MA in Baptistic Histories and Theologies which we deliver as an approved partner with the University of Manchester.

A number of students were also recognised in their absence: Makoto Tokunda who also achieved a MA with credit and David Keane and Kofi Owusu-Ansah who received the Postgraduate Certificate.

The international nature of IBTSC is made clear in the fact that these four students represented the different countries of the Netherlands, Ghana, Japan, and the USA. Whereas the staff present came from Scotland, Estonia, Bulgaria, Canada and England (Czech Republic).

Intensive Week’s Teaching at IBTSC

September 15th, 2016

Been a lot going on. During the period 22 August till the 2nd of September we held an intensive teaching week for new and existing students enrolled on our MnixonA programme or part thereof. Here are some of the faces of new and existing IBTSC students and Tim leading one of the units on Faith and Reason.classmatthenrikgabriel

michael

Is God Disappearing from the Netherlands?

September 5th, 2016

L1005277Today with colleagues I attended the opening of the academic year jointly hosted by the Theological Faculty of the Vrije Universiteit and the Protestant Theological University who work closely with one another. The theme upon which there were various papers and comments was: “Is God really disappearing from the Netherlands – and what would that mean for doing Theology”

This title was a response to the survey held every 10 years called “God in the Netherlands” and which focusses in particular upon the place and role of the Christian faith in the Netherlands.

Some of the reported results were:

“More than 68 percent of the Dutch say they do not follow a specific church, 25 percent are Christian, 5 percent are Muslim and 2 percent follow other non-Christian beliefs. Almost a quarter of the population are atheists, compared to 14 percent in 2006. 31 percent consider themselves spiritual, compared to 40 percent ten years ago. And the people who believe in some form of higher power fell from 36 percent in 2006 to 28 percent this year. More than half of Dutch never pray” see NL Times.

Possible responses to the question of what this means for “theology”.

Such decline is a sign of the end times.

The issue is that the nature of religion is changing and we have to look elsewhere for God’s presence, theologians have to listen.

The starting place for theology is not society at large but the Church which then bears witness to the world – not saying what society already has decided we should say, but saying that which will make sense only after it is said.

To be sure all of this is complex.

To start with the sort of “theology” which was being discussed was “formal” theology, that which theologians do rather than the theology of local congregations in words and actions.

In turn while the Church may be the starting place for doing theology, what does that actually mean, whose Church and where is such a Church. If this pushes us again back to the local and ,local congregations the question is simply begged – where are there congregations that are engaging with such issues through discussion and discernment?

With a  sort of analytical synthesis on the various contributions by various people I offer:

We certainly live in times of complex change. Whether they are the “end times” is not within our knowledge and it is pointless to speculate.

If we wish to bear witness to and in society we certainly need to listen and look to hear and see where faith is to be found and God is to be found outside of the Church although we may need some prior perspective on what we mean by “God” and “God’s presence” unless we want simply to accept the post modern idea of a “soft power” or general “spirituality”. On the other hand we need to be open to the in breaking of the kingdom in “imaginative” and “creative” ways over which we do not have control.

The Church may indeed be the starting place for the doing of Christian theology in such a context but before seeking the “conversion” of society we may well indeed have to as “what sort of conversion” we need as people (as one speaker suggested) if we are going to be able to talk to one another and those beyond our “ranks” in a way that shows “faithful witness”.