Archive for February, 2014

Russian Baptists and Orthodoxy

Wednesday, February 12th, 2014

The doctoral dissertation of one of our alumni, Constantine Prokhorov, is now in print


Lady Library Has a New Friend

Monday, February 10th, 2014

Yet another impression from VU Amsterdam………this time about the library

Part of my last month‘s mission in Amsterdam was to visit the VU University and Theology Library, a new home for the majority of our doctoral students, and to explore various possibilities for them in regard to how to use the library most effectively, how to get a WiFi, where to order the books, etc. For me, it was actually a refreshment to be in the library and not to keep in mind MARC 21, AACR2, authorities, Z39.50 and other highly specialized library tasks.

Mind you, several things seemed very strange to a conservative part of my personality, such as students entering the library area with books in their coats, with bags, even with coffee and sandwiches. I really do not want to know how the books over which a student has just had a snack look like, but hey, it is the Dutch way of understanding academic freedom, certainly not part of my librarianship philosophy.

But, there is something more important, namely that IBTS has received a strong partner. In the area of learning resources and library this partnership has a different impact than accreditation perspective. You see, I always had (and still have) many ideas that could be implemented in the Library, but not all of them were suitable for such unique, but still small library as ours inPrague. Being a small library means that there will never be enough personnel and finances to start some projects, and for our small number of visitors and patrons many of them would not give much sense.

But I have always envied big libraries for having a sufficient humanpower and infrastructure to develop all their ideas and  to be able to provide the best possible service to students. In our Lady Library we were always student-oriented and made effort to provide as much service as we could, but I admit it was never the best possible service; what two (now only one) librarians and occasional volunteers can do could never  be compared with the work of several tens of librarians in a machinery as VU University library is. If you could just see the number of online resources that VU Library provides and enter the premises with almost perfect conditions for making a research and writing, you would see the advantages that a huge Library can provide to students.

Therefore after my short Amsterdam trip I am actually very optimistic regarding the future: we will still have the best collection of English theological books in the area, and better resources on doing research in Baptist studies, missiology and applied theology than anyone else, but our Library will always remain a small library with limited possibilities. Therefore, it is good that our Lady Library has a new friend who will help her with service and resources.

 – Zdenko Š Širka

Head Librarian

Baptist Praise and Worship – looking for copies!

Thursday, February 6th, 2014

Friends in the UK:  do you happen to know any church getting rid of its Baptist Praise & Worship hymnals (either words or music edition) in the process of going digital? If so, IBTS would gladly adopt them! Write to Lina at

With hopes!

– Lina

Rift as a Space to Meet God

Wednesday, February 5th, 2014

Henrikas, one of our Research students, reflects on the student-led conference we enjoyed in Amsterdam during the research colloquium:

The conference on migration and dislocation invited creative look at the practical implications of my research. I wondered: can the dislocation, rift and rupture become a space to meet God? Besides, can our action (which suggests newness and rift) be a meeting place with God?

God’s presence in Scriptures is strangely hidden in the cloud, near and yet distant. In terms of place or space, there is an image of the temple. According to Yves Congar, the temple is to be viewed in the history of growing interiority and intimacy with God. It is the place of indwelling and manifestation, God’s presence with his people. There is continuity, but there is also a rift. The real sacrifices are those of the broken hearts, not bulls. The presence is not the one people wished to maintain (the temple), but unsurpassable presence of God in true sanctuary, Jesus Christ, and through the Spirit in the faithful and in the church.

But how then is God’s proximity and transcendence to be kept together? Congar learned from Thomas Aquinas that “God is present everywhere and nowhere. He is nowhere because he is spiritual and neither circumscribed by or settled in any place, but he is present where he is active.” God’s presence is bound to action, not space. Besides, this action is to culminate and fulfilled in our action, our knowledge and love towards Him.  Maurice Blondel viewed action as that which binds our thinking, ethics and history. In his work on tradition he insisted on living tradition, relating Jesus of history and Christ of faith, embodying faith without fully knowing its implications. It is being unpacked as we go; it is, essentially, an action. Our action is necessarily a rift and even non-acting, we act.

If action is central, then our action is in fact the space where our action meets God’s action or resists it. It is not necessary that this action would carry the label “Christian,” but it is always in relation to our truthfulness and the ever-acting Spirit of Jesus Christ. If God is present where God is active, our real witness is our genuine action co-extensive with divine action. God acting as Spirit, can bind the human action and divine, lead us to faith and love, indwell us and give spiritual gifts. Action, thus, is a space to meet God and can be a space to be filled with God. Rifts and ruptures are inescapable and valuable.

– Henrikas Žukauskas


A Dislocated Book Club!..

Monday, February 3rd, 2014

This idea was born at the doctoral colloquium (which also included a student-led conference on Migration and Dislocation, hence the title) – and here’s Rosa’s first suggestion for the Book Club. We’ll figure out how we technically conduct the discussion, but for now, read the blog – and then the first suggested book!..

Hello and welcome to the IBTS dislocated book club. This grew out of a discussion following worship at the recent IBTS research colloquium in Amsterdam – some of us were excited about the possibility of having a forum where we could share our thoughts about good books to read and offer our feedback. This book club has very soft boundaries: everybody is welcome, and your comments don’t need to be particularly sophisticated or artistic. Honest will do.

Ivana suggested that we could extend it to movies too, so feel free to recommend a movie you’ve enjoyed.

Here is my contribution to start the ball rolling: the book Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman. On one level this is a fairy tale for adults, complete with all the necessary ingredients: giants, angels, magical powers, alternative universes, and three challenges to solve in order to rescue the key from the monk guardians … On another level this is a story about London, the Underground (metro) system, and dislocation: what happens to the people who fall through the cracks of the London we can see? On yet another level, it is about the hero having to choose between three visions of reality. Mainly, though, it’s a lot of fun, and if you enjoy Terry Pratchett or Narnia you’ll probably enjoy this.

I look forward to reading your suggestions now …


– Rosa