PhD Success

September 3rd, 2015

TimaWe are glad to announce that on Friday 28th August an Examining Board consisting of Dr Stuart Blythe – chair, Dr Maurice Dowling – external examiner and Dr Lina Toth (Andronoviene) as the internal examiner conducted viva voce examination of the doctoral work submitted by IBTS student Timofey Cheprasov for the award of UW PhD degree. The title of his work was: ‘Formative, Informative, Neither? Towards the understanding of the practice of proclamation, the core element of Russian Baptist Worship’. It was a successful examination. Congratulations to him, to Dr Keith Jones and Dr David Brown – the supervisors of the work for the positive outcome of years of hard research work.


We are also pleased to announceMike Pears Promotion that on Wednesday 2nd September that IBTSC student Mike PearsMike Promotion successfully publicly defended his PhD work entitled: ‘Towards a Theological Engagement with an Area of Multiple Deprivation: The Case of the Cornwall Estate’ in order to obtain the award of ‘Doctor’ from the Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam. Congratulations to Mike and his supervisors/promotors Prof. Dr. H.A. Baker, Dr J.A. Kirk, and Dr T.F.T. Noble.

In offering his praise to Mike, Mikes IBTSC promotor, renown missiologist Dr Andrew Kirk, praised both IBTSC and the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam for seeking to maintain an emphasis on missiology as a distinct academic subject.


Call for Conference Papers

July 17th, 2015

IBTSC will host a Conference on ‘Conflicting Convictions’ on Tuesday 3rd and Wednesday 4th of November 2015 in Baptist House, Amsterdam. This conference will explore disagreements among Christians on ‘matters that matter’ and responses to such.

Already a number of people have offered papers on topics of conflict indeed perhaps encouraging some debate on a number of contested issues.

We are also continuing to look for papers that will explore conflict among people who claim to hold to the same Christian ‘tradition’: its nature, causes, risks, opportunities and how such can be responded to and dealt with. Papers can be offered from a range of perspectives, biblical, theological, historical, practical. There is the opportunity following conference review to be published in our Journal, Baptistic Theologies.

We invite contributions from not only from more experienced writers and scholars but also from aspiring and developing scholars. For those who may wish to offer more provisional and developing work there is an opportunity for publication in the Journal of European Baptist Studies which as well as containing the work of more established writers was created to help young and new scholars publish in an English language European Journal.

To offer or to discuss the possibility of a paper please contact, Stuart Blythe,

There is no charge to attend the conference although there will be a small fee to cover lunch provision and participants are responsible for their own travel, food, and accommodation.

At present, we have no bursaries to help people come but if  you would be willing to contribute towards another person being able to come please be in touch.

The Conference will follow the delivery of the Nordenhaug lectures on Monday 2nd November 2015. These will be delivered by Dr David P. Gushee who is the Distinguished University Professor of Christian Ethics, Director of the Centre for Theology and Public Life at Mercer University, Atlanta & Macon, Georgia. He will deliver three lectures on ‘What it means to say that human life is sacred?’. Gushee.jpg


Dr David P. Gushee who is the Distinguished University Professor of Christian Ethics, Director of the Center for Theology and Public Life Mercer University, Atlanta & Macon, Georgia.
Widely regarded as one of the leading moral voices in American Christianity, he is the author or editor of 20 books and hundreds of articles in his field, including Righteous Gentiles of the Holocaust, Kingdom Ethics, The Sacredness of Human Life. He will deliver three lectures on the Monday on the theme of ‘What it means to say that human life is sacred’.

Different systems but same results

May 1st, 2015

George Graduation 3On Thursday 28th May 2015, George Bristow an IBTSC student successfully defended his PhD thesis in an event of promotion at the VU. In the Dutch system, a candidate’s work is submitted to at least 5 markers. It is marked and the markers decide whether the candidate is able to proceed to a public defence. This defence takes place on stage before the markers and a wider body of academics and teachers who make up the promotion committee, as well as members of the public. George Graduation 9Following a question and answer session of some 50 minutes the meeting goes into recess while the committee decide whether the thesis has been successfully defended. If the thesis has been successfully defended the candidate is awarded the title and degree of Dr. George successfully defended his thesis which was titled: ‘Abraham in Narrative Worldviews: Doing Comparative Theology Through Christian-Muslim Dialogue in Turkey’. George Graduation 8Congratulations go to George and his promotors: Prof Dr J.A. Kirk, Prof Dr P.A. van Doorn-Harder and Dr I.J. Glaser.George Graduation 2         Then on Friday 29th May 2015 at Baptist House we carried out a short service of ‘graduation’ to mark the successful achievement of the degree of PhD by IBTS student Mary Raber in conjunction with the University of Wales. This was carried out as part of morning worship at Baptist House and attended not only be present IBTSC staff but members from the Dutch Seminary, Dutch Union, and some of Mary’s friends.STA41962 In the British system a PhD is defended behind closed doors and although the award stated on the day a graduation service normally follows at a later date.  Traditionally IBTS held such a graduation service in its own campus. The changed situation has necessitated a different approach for the few remaining students who continue with the University of Wales and Magister programmes. Mary successfully defended her PhD in a viva voce in January 2015. It was titled: ‘Ministries of Compassion Among Russian Evangelicals 1905-1929′. Congratulations go to Mary and to her supervisors who have included: Dr Toivo Pilli, Dr W Sawatski  and previously Dr Ian Randall. In the past few months Frances Bloomberg also successfully defended her PhD awarded through the University of Wales with the title: ‘Forming and Sustaining Christian Community in a Consumer Culture: An Analysis of and Search for Appropriate Models’. Frances was supervised by Dr Andrew Kirk and Dr Tim Noble. News of successful Master students will be posted later in the month.

Nordenhaug Lectures 2015

April 13th, 2015

This year the Nordenhaug lectures will take place at the VU (Virije Universiteit) Amsterdam on Monday 2nd November 2015.

These will be delivered by Gushee.jpg

Dr David P. Gushee who is the Distinguished University Professor of Christian Ethics, Director of the Center for Theology and Public Life Mercer University, Atlanta & Macon, Georgia.

Widely regarded as one of the leading moral voices in American Christianity, he is the author or editor of 20 books and hundreds of articles in his field, including Righteous Gentiles of the Holocaust, Kingdom Ethics, The Sacredness of Human Life. He will deliver three lectures on the Monday on the theme of ‘What it means to say that human life is sacred’.

What it means to say that human life is sacred…

  1. Sacredness and Christian Scripture
  2. Sacredness and Christian tradition
  3. Sacredness and contemporary application

The lectures will be followed by an IBTSC Conference on ‘Conflicting Convictions’ on Tuesday 3rd and Wednesday 4th of November in Baptist House Amsterdam. This conference will explore disagreements among Christians on ‘matters that matter’ and responses to such.

Call for papers from biblical, historical, theological, and practical perspectives until Tuesday 30th June. Possibilty of publication in IBTSC Journal. Contact Stuart Blythe, for further details

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

Visitors to IBTSC

April 1st, 2015

Today I was pleased to welcome to IBTSC at Amsterdam the Revd Dr Yaw Adu-Gyamfi, Dean of School of Theology and Ministry (STM) of the Ghana Baptist University College (GBUC). TodayHe is visiting friends and participating in some ‘Revival’ meetings for a new Ghanaian Church in the Amsterdam area. We currently have Revd Kofi Owusu-Ansah and Rev (Mrs) Mary Fosu a lecturer and chaplain respectively of GBUC as students at IBTSC. It was good to see him and talk about possible future co-operation. 

For those who studied in my time at Rueschlikon part of our conversation was about the late Rev Dr Frank Kwesi Adams


Flexible Study from a Baptist Perspective

March 25th, 2015

MA in Baptistic Histories and Theologies

Some of last years students.

Some of last years students.

Between 24th and 28th August 2015 we will deliver our first intensive teaching week for the new session. During this week we will deliver two required core units for this MA Degree Programme:

‘Critical Thinking and Research Methodologies’ and

‘Interpretation, Bible, Theology and Society’.

Both units can be done the same week as they will be delivered on the morning and evening Mon-Fri respectively. Students will then receive ongoing support online to complete the assessments for these units before May 2016.

Attendance for these five days can fulfill 25% of the required maximum attendance for this programme which can be taken part-time in anywhere between two and five years.

Photo Opportunity at Bakkerstraat

Photo Opportunity at Bakkerstraat

If you wish to stay on, enjoy the weekend in Amsterdam perhaps visiting ‘Baker’s Street’ (Bakkerstraat) the site of the first Baptist Church in the world.

You can then take a second intensive week of teaching during the week 31st August to the 4th of September. The unit you will study during that week can be negotiated although ‘Faith and Reason’ will certainly be offered.

Attendance at both these weeks can fulfil 50% of the required maximum attendance for this programme.

If you take the core units during the first there will be another opportunity to take other units during the following year in November or February or in September, November, or February in subsequent years.

This programme has been designed to offer flexible and supported learning with a contextual emphasis from an international Baptist perspective. It is a programme with three possible streams. It is a degree that stands in its own right but also prepares people for further research study.

The costs of the programme can be spread over the period of study

For more details please see the website or contact

Richard J. Mouw, Of Pagan Festivals and Meta-Narratives Recovering the Awareness of our Shared Humanity

March 13th, 2015

Yesterday Parush and I attended our respective section meetings at Vrije Universiteit (VU). We now have 29 IBTSC Amsterdam whose proposal have been accepted by VU and are now part of their/our PhD Research Programme. In the next year we anticipate that two or three will graduate and that by the end of the year several more will be officially registered.

Following our meetings we attended the annual Abraham Kuyper lecture at VU. This was delivered by Richard J. Mouw,

Richard J Mouw

Richard J Mouw

formerly President of Fuller Theological Seminary and one time visiting Professor at the Free University.  The title of his lecture was ‘Of Pagan Festivals and Meta-Narratives: Recovering the Awareness of our Shared Humanity’. His basic argument was that Kuyper’s view of common grace should open us up to appreciating the shared humanity we have with others.  He argued that for Kuyper, while Christian fellowship may be considered a special relationship our shared Christian particularity was only one root of this fellowship the other being our shared humanity in which the Holy Spirit is also active.

He also went on to argue that the formative practice of Christian fellowship should shape in us such an openness to others.

Without debating the particular reading of Kuyper’s Calvinistic theology I want to reflect on the idea that if our worship practices are formative, an idea commonly asserted at the moment by such as James K. Smith (although I think that this requires some discussion), then they are of course possible of shaping our ideas and actions negatively as well as positively. In this respect work by Siobhán Garrigan in The Real Peace Process: Worship Politics and the End of Sectarianism (London:Equinox, 2010) demonstrates the way in which liturgies and worship can develop a hostility towards rather than an openness to others. This being the case, the question I posed to Professor Mouw was what practices can we introduce to our worship to ensure that they form ‘empathy’ towards others rather than disregard?

His own answer in the limited time picked up on my suggestion about the significance of intercessory prayer for the world – as one practice that expands our interests although of course this in turn begs the question of ‘who’ do we pray for in our common prayers and ‘how’ do we pray for them? For the way in which we pray for others can of course reinforce difference rather than affirm a shared humanity recognized as a theological conviction.

It was a fascinating and clearly presented lecture which invites further reflection not simply in relation to academic discussion but in relation to our church practices including prayer. The opportunity to attend and participate in such activities is one of our present benefits from IBTSC being a collaborative centre within the faculty of theology of the VU Amsterdam.

Six Months On…

February 24th, 2015

We have now been operational in our Amsterdam for the past six months or so. The relocation of the library and set up of the offices taking place in August 2014. In the following months set up issues continued to demand a lot of time an attention. Simple things can suddenly become BIG – e.g. when you discover that the computers have been set up in a language you don’t speak! In some ways it seems longer than six months and at other times less.

Despite all that has been going on, building on the past with the support of previous and new colleagues a lot have been achieved in circumstances which can only be described as ‘complex change’.

Anna Robbins led the Acadia D Min teaching weeks in August 2014

Anna Robbins led the Acadia D Min teaching weeks in August 2014

Starting in August we first hosted the Acadia D Min intensive teaching weeks led by Anna Robbins.

This programme is one which we run in partnership with Acadia and offers high quality biblical, theological, and practical reflection suited to the tasks of ministry. The way which it is run also offers a genuine international experience. So it is worth making known. Please contact for information.




Following this we hosted in August/September a three week intensive teaching block for students undertaking our MA Degree with Manchester University or our Post-Graduate Certificate in preparation for PhD studies.

Students from Ghana, Cuba, Croatia.

Students from Ghana, Cuba, Croatia.

This MA programme has some considerable flexibility in delivery and while involving some intensive teaching block attendance also has some distance learning options. Please contact for information.

The second week of this teaching period included our first PhD graduation (Promotion) from the Free University (VU)a day in which several of us including the successful student Jon Hardin got dressed up for the occasion…

First IBTSC graduation at VU

First IBTSC graduation at VU






Curtis FreemanIn November we hosted the Hughey Lectures with Curtis Freeman followed by a well attended conference on Convictional Theologies. The Lectures were held at the VU and the conference in our own premises with lunch being provided for participants. Papers will follow later in the Spring/Summer published in our Journals in order to disseminate some of the research and thinking that is going on.

Nancey Murphy As well as Curtis Freeman we were please to welcome Nancey Murphy to this event as a contributor and were grateful for the of signed copies of the latest collections of McClendon’s works from which she read by way of recollection.




Then in January 2015 we held our annual research degrees colloquium attended by students and staff from around the world. Thinking HardThis included much valued input from Professor Pete Ward PeterWard01smallfrom Durham University .





With all these events the first six months has been fairly hectic. At times I am frustrated with a range of things we have not yet got done but when I stand back I am nothing but grateful to our colleagues, supporters, and God for all that has been achieved. The coming few months do not have quite the same intensity in terms of events but are required to allow us to develop supportive administrative systems and methods suited to our location and continue to sort out details like…who do you call when the mini-bus breaks down? In turn for me these months give the time to strategize beyond the immediate.

We are now moving firmly into our first full year of activity – January to December which will allow us to see what it is like to operate fully in our new context. Wwe remain grateful for your interest and support in IBTSC as we seek to provide research, researchers, and leaders which can aid the mission and ministry of churches in Europe and beyond.