Archive for March, 2015

Flexible Study from a Baptist Perspective

Wednesday, 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

Friday, 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.