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Handbook of Theological Education in World Christianity

The guiding—and undergirding—philosophy of HTEWC is clear. It argues that theological education is vital for the future of World Christianity. On the one hand, it contends that theological education has the potential to be the seedbed for the renewal of churches, their ministries, mission, and commitment to Christian unity. On the other hand, is a concern that if theological education is neglected by church leaders or in funding, the consequences will be far reaching. Although perhaps not visible immediately, these will certainly become manifest over time in the theological competence of church leadership, the holistic nature of mission, and the capacities for ecumenical and interfaith dialogue and the interaction between church and society. Investment in theological education is investment of hope in the future and mission of World Christianity. The transmission of Christian memory, the education for God’s peace and justice, and the formation for church and community leadership therefore should be priorities in all churches; however, in many places theological education is far from secure or even in crisis at the present time. Accordingly, there is an enormous need for a volume such as HTEWC.

The subtitle of HTEWC, “Theological Perspectives – Regional Surveys – Ecumenical Trends,” signals its threefold concentration. Impressive Forewords by Ofelia Ortega, President of the World Council of Churches, Desmond Tutu, Archbishop Emeritus of Cape Town, and Robert Schreiter, Vatican II Professor of Theology, Catholic Theological Union, Chicago, prepare readers for the weighty worth of the volume. Its organization and analysis are well planned and executed. The bulk of the book is divided into three major sections with several subcategories under each one. First is “Theological Education in Global Context: Issues and Themes.”Second is “Regional Surveys of Developments in Theological Education since 1910.” And third is “Theological Education from Denominational and Confessional Perspectives.” There are a total of 35 different categories under these three headings with specific articles (ranging from one or two up to five or six) under each of these. There is some proportional disparity, with some topics (e.g., “Theological Education in Asia,” “Theological Education in Western Europe”) just getting more attention, others (e.g., “People with Disabilities and Theological Education,” “HIV and AIDS and Theological Education”) less. Sometimes apparent sparseness seems due to very specific subject matter (e.g., “Theological Education in Anglican Churches,” “Theological Education in Methodist Churches,” “Theological Education in Baptist Churches”). When the scope is broader (e.g., “Theological Education in Evangelical Schools”), then usually several articles address relevant factors in various regions. There is no effort at uniformity of style so diverse readers will doubtless appreciate some approaches more or less than others. Neither are the contents encyclopedic but rather selective samplings—though rigorous and wide-ranging.

The editors express particular regret for inability to thoroughly cover all topics equally well. For instance, HTEWC does not contain articles on the environment and theological education, or the whole range of issues related to the debate on human sexuality and different sexual orientations in Christianity and their impact on theological education. They are also apologetic for not including an account of Pentecostal theological education in North America (yet without offering an explanation). Although on-line theological education and other aspects of information technology are touched on in a number of articles, they were unable to provide a comprehensive report on these topics. Nevertheless, even with these omissions, along with many others, this work will surely generate new dialogue in all areas of theological education.

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Category: Ministry, Spring 2011

About the Author: Tony Richie, D.Min, Ph.D., is missionary teacher at SEMISUD (Quito, Ecuador) and adjunct professor at the Pentecostal Theological Seminary (Cleveland, TN). Dr. Richie is an Ordained Bishop in the Church of God, and Senior Pastor at New Harvest in Knoxville, TN. He has served the Society for Pentecostal Studies as Ecumenical Studies Interest Group Leader and is currently Liaison to the Interfaith Relations Commission of the National Council of Churches (USA), and represents Pentecostals with Interreligious Dialogue and Cooperation of the World Council of Churches and the Commission of the Churches on International Affairs. He is the author of Speaking by the Spirit: A Pentecostal Model for Interreligious Dialogue (Emeth Press, 2011) and Toward a Pentecostal Theology of Religions: Encountering Cornelius Today (CPT Press, 2013) as well as several journal articles and books chapters on Pentecostal theology and experience.

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