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Handbook of Theological Education in World Christianity

In spite of the above caveat about its lacuna on Pentecostal theological education in North America, happily HTEWC does address Pentecostal concerns and conditions regarding theological education. In a section on “Theological Education in Pentecostal Churches,” Wonsuk Ma addresses “Theological Education in Asia,” Daniel Chiquete, “Pentecostalism, Ecumenism and Theological Education in Latin American Perspective,” and Cephas N. Omenyo, “African Pentecostalism and Theological Education.” These specifically Pentecostal-oriented articles are solid and substantive contributions. Significantly, scattered throughout this 800 page volume are numerous references to Classical Pentecostals, Neo-Pentecostals, Charismatic Renewal groups, and various Pentecostal-type churches. This suggests a serious and sustained (though not systematic) attempt to engage contemporary Spirit movements and glean from their experience and expertise, though, of course, not entirely uncritically, in understanding and advancing theological education in World Christianity.

A rather interesting example of the essays in HTEWC is Miroslav Volf’s “Dancing for God: Evangelical Theological Education in Global Perspective”. Volf’s topic is “challenges facing theological education today.” However, he admits that he does not directly address many challenges – financial, institutional, contextual, and pedagogical – and many more that are the stuff of the daily lives of educators, and that no responsible theological education can afford to disregard. But he identifies a challenge that comes even closer to the core of what theological educators are about. He calls it “a theological challenge”, by which he means the place of God in theological education and, more broadly, in doing theology. What follows is a passionate, and profoundly spiritual, personal appeal, staunchly supported by cogent argumentation and dramatic illustration (testimony!), for authentic love and trust that places God at the center of our lives and theology.

Among other things, Volf’s essay startles us into sharply discriminating between economic globalization and global Christianity. “Globalization” commonly describes the process by which regional economies, societies, and cultures have become integrated into a global network of political ideas through communication, transportation, and trade. It is closely associated with the integration of national economies into the international economy. But theological education in global/World Christianity is not about money or power; it’s about God. Specifically, it is about placing God at the center of our lives in authentic love and trust.

This volume will undoubtedly be of great benefit to theological educators, especially those interested in global partnerships and networking; associations and individual theological institutions needing current information on global trends and issues as well as reliable contact data; church leaders and denominational boards planning for theological and higher Christian education; and missiologists, theologians, biblical scholars, church historians, and other scholars interested in global developments in theological education. In my opinion, the ₤49.95 (approx. $77.50) will prove a worthwhile investment.

Reviewed by Tony Richie

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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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