What does Spirit-filled education look like around the world? The principal of Filadelphia Bible College, Finny Philip, tells us about this ministry training center in Udaipur City in Rajasthan, India. Part of the Pentecostal Theological Education Around the World series from PneumaReview.com.
PneumaReview.com: How readily available is theological education for Pentecostals in India?
Finny Philip: There are many Pentecostal theological colleges and training centres in the country and most of them are located in the south of India. Most of these institutions, particularly the smaller ones, follow the traditional Pentecostal style of training (Bible institutes with a ministry focus). Indian Pentecostalism has not achieved the theological vigour of North American & European Pentecostalism. Filadelphia Bible College is exceptional for having highly trained faculty, two of whom studied at the University of Birmingham under Prof. Allan Anderson.
PneumaReview.com: What are some of the greatest obstacles to Spirit-filled theological education in your nation?
Finny Philip: 1. In India, theological colleges/institutions are accredited to either Serampore University (started by William Carey, but now controlled by liberal/liberation stream) or Asia Theological Association (an evangelical stream). Most of the Pentecostal colleges are part of ATA but most of the faculty comes from Serampore or ATA stream and does not have a Pentecostal outlook. Although they are Pentecostals, their thinking has been moulded by either liberal theology or non-charismatic evangelical orientation. This is reflected in the courses offered by Pentecostal colleges, they are general courses which any evangelical seminary in the West might offer. Further, there is little development in Pentecostal thinking or reflection about the Spirit experiences in our communities. This is an issue that hinders theological education.
2. As an indigenous Pentecostal institution, we have our struggles since we are not part of a Pentecostal denomination. Because we are in a mission context, we are by nature involved in both evangelism and discipleship. At many times we have to re-invent the wheel and we lack resources.
3. Our students come from backgrounds where we have persecution. And we are passionate about (and empowered for) mission, our graduates face a lot of persecution once they are back in the fields.
PneumaReview.com: Do you have access to good theological study materials?
Finny Philip: No, unfortunately we don’t have good theological study materials available. Everything has to be imported.
PneumaReview.com: What are the greatest doctrinal challenges that you face in your country?
Finny Philip: Prosperity theology is an emerging threat, but mostly it is biblical illiteracy. Since ours is in a mission context challenges are mission related. Pluralism, syncretism, culture and gospel engagements etc.
PneumaReview.com: What major themes do you stress as you train students for ministry?
Finny Philip: Character, knowledge and skills are given a significant place in the life of our students. But when it comes to themes, our greatest emphasis is on Biblical subjects, then theology and then mission. The primary reason for this focus is that almost all of our students are first generation Christians. Therefore, our priorities are right interpretation, right doctrine and right passion for reaching out.
PneumaReview.com: What fruit have you seen in the lives of those who have prepared for ministry at your school?
Finny Philip: Over the past 32 years of training, God has enabled us to produce over 1500 graduates who are leading thousands of churches in north India made up of about 300.000 believers. These churches are known as Filadelfia Fellowship Church of India.
Filadelphia Bible College may be found online at: FBCUdaipur.com