What to do about all attacks on the true faith in Africa? Various speakers at the Consultation agreed that firstly the Bible must be known and understood. In addition, one has to be conscious of the results of these influences in Africa such as self-serving leaders, corruption, poor economies, oppression, etc. It must be realized that only the Bible speaks authoritatively in a relevant way in any given situation.
How can one equip students against the Prosperity Gospel? Rev. Antonio Coppola, pastor of the Covenant Waterfall Presbyterian Church and manager of the Mukhanyo’s Durban Advanced Learning Centre said it must be realized that the Prosperity Gospel links up well with the worldview and practices of African Tradition Religions. The Reformed theology of sola gratia, the atonement of Christ and God’s covenant are uniquely able to equip students against this pervasive error.
To be able to refute the Prosperity Gospel, there must be a total commitment to the Word of God, the true preaching of the Word (sola Scriptura), and a realisation of God’s sovereignty and the willingness of God’s children to suffer.
Defending the True Faith
God’s Word does not change but its application does, according to Dr Siegfried Ngubane of the Serving in Mission organisation (SIM), also a keynote speaker at the Consultation. The present trend is for theology to move away from the truth; religious experiences replace Scripture away from Christ and his Word. But Africa’s theology should be based on the knowledge of God’s revelation and inspiration. Doctrine should be taught from God’s Word about our God who directs us to know Him, love Him, do His will, and live for His glory.
The question one must always ask oneself is what the Bible says in a specific situation. The questions we ask are rooted in our experiences, cultural beliefs and worldviews, but one should be very careful regarding so-called contextualisation; we must not adjust sound Biblical doctrine to suit people’s preferences. True faith is based on true knowledge, regardless of the time and part of the world.
Mentoring Spiritual Warriors
How many Christians see themselves as contenders and fruitful spiritual warriors? Do lecturers prepare theological students as such? This was asked by Prof. Henk Stoker of the Theological School Potchefstroom at Northwest University in Potchefstroom, South Africa. Through an approach of gentleness, humility and respect, we must be prepared to defend the Christian faith to anyone who asks you for the reason for the hope we have in us through a well thought through explanation and rebuttal. Remember, hearts and minds have to be won, not an argument. We are in the world to be contenders, the salt and light of the world.
In the light thereof, it is the job of Christian pastors and teachers to train students how to discern between right and wrong. This discernment requires skill, according to Rev. Atwebembeire. Much damage is done by so-called prophets who give wrong advice and draw people away from institutional churches. The key is a pastor’s preaching: to teach, motivate and grow his congregation to be informed and equipped. Discernment is a necessary fruit of discipleship.
To promote the mentoring of well-equipped church leaders, Bible colleges and seminaries should restore the integrity of the house of God, promoting interaction, synergy, and working together, according to Dr Ngubane. In practice, this means stopping the sale of fake qualifications by fraudulent “Christian” institutions.
This unity also implies that there should be clear agreement on the essentials of the church’s mission to navigate through and around minor issues. Institutions should trust each other. An African proverb states if you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go together.
Guarding Against Future Compromise
Many institutions and universities throughout the world have started as Bible schools and Christian places of learning, but through the years have become compromised and secularized. How can Christian institutions today guard themselves that it will not happen to them? This topic was presented by Dr Brian DeVries, principal of Mukhanyo Theological College. He listed five common causes of compromise: counterfeit teachers, doctrinal syncretism, academic hypocrisy, institutional blindness, and various external pressures.
Some defences against compromises include the following:
Remember: we are strong together when standing on the Word. God our Father has promised to provide. The Holy Spirit unites and empowers us. And Christ is praying for us to remain faithful. What more do we need? And what will you do to implement these ideas?
Visit the TEASA website for information about the 2021 event (www.teasa.co.za) and to download the audio recordings of all the keynote addresses and some of the afternoon discussion topics. You can also register online for next year’s event planned for 14-16 June 2022, the Lord willing.
The Bible teaches that Christians must always grow in their faith. There should also be growth in the efficiency of the work they are doing. Therefore, all institutions should continuously keep abreast of new developments and train their staff to make full use of the latest in facilities and equipment. Mukhanyo does this annually and used a whole week in June for staff training.
Monday: Mukhanyo’s library staff were trained on the first day of the week. In the last few years, all five regional centres have built up substantial library collections with thousands of books, as well as the ability to draw academic journals and other information from all over the world. But these facilities need to be optimally managed, which requires capable and well-trained full-time and part-time librarians. The training included advice about motivating and training students to make use of these facilities.
Tuesday: The second day was used to train the staff members involved with the implementation of the new POPI Act about the protection of personal information. In addition, Mukhanyo’s health and safety policy was discussed in detail.
Wednesday: On the third day, all support staff using Outlook and Office received further training. Although most trainees are regular users of this software, the training showed them that the platform has more utilities to enhance optimal usage and to save time, and thus improve efficiencies.
Thursday: The fourth day was used to coach several staff members about basic principles of management. Aspects such as planning, organising, leading and control were discussed in addition to aspects such as team building and co-operation.
Friday: The last day of the staff training week focused on Mukhanyo’s gardeners and cleaners together with staff from the Nakekela Christian Community Centre, a sister ministry with close ties to Mukhanyo that serves the terminally ill. They exchanged ideas and applications came forward with proposals to improve gardens (also vegetable gardens) and cleaning facilities.
It was a week well spent, according to Jan Pelser, Mukhanyo’s Operations Manager.
Once again, the Theological Education Association of Southern Africa (www.teasa.co.za) held a very successful Bible College Consultation, for the tenth time in eleven years! The three-day event was attended from 8 to 10 June by some one hundred delegates, while several other delegates participated via Zoom. In total 32 Bible colleges and other institutions from several countries in Southern Africa participated in one or another way.
And not only was there much to learn, but this event continues to promise much for future fellowship and networking.
The theme of the consultation was “Standing firm for the truth in Bible education within Africa”. Some of the most important points made by the dozen speakers during the consultation are summarised as follows.
Apologetics Urgently Required
Believers must always be ready to defend the faith convincingly, according to Rev. Rodgers Atwebembeire of the Africa Centre for Apologetics Research in Kampala, Uganda. But many pastors lack Biblical and theological knowledge. How can they teach their flock?
The result is that in Africa there are numerous cultic groups and heretical movements with many millions of followers of local cults and African initiated churches, such as the amaZioni and amaNazaretha, as well as Africanized neo-Pentecostalism. There are also millions who support imported cults such as Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons.
Islam is growing fast in Africa, as well as the Western influence of atheists and sceptics. Not to mention the belief in the Prosperity Gospel in many churches of established denominations.
Many Bible colleges and churches in Africa do not give proper attention to apologetics in their theological curricula. Apologetic courses, such as Mukhanyo is offering, should be introduced in all diploma and degree programs of all Bible colleges.
Undermining the True Faith
The true faith of the Bible is undermined in subtle ways by the many forms of the African Traditional Religion, according to Pastor Sipho Mfusi who grew up within the Zionist Church. He now pastors the Estcourt Community Church in KwaZulu-Natal, a Reformed Baptist church plant. Common examples of African syncretism include:
However, Bible education in Africa must also be defended against Western errors, as expounded on by Prof. Vhumani Magezi of the North-West University, South Africa. Eurocentric and colonial influences everywhere are seen in ideas, philosophies, worldviews, individualism, materialism, etc. The unbiblical ideologies of liberal theology, cultural Marxism, secularism and humanism are infiltrating African society at every level. In addition, the attempts to defend the Bible include many voices and unbiblical views such as African, Black and liberation theology, feminism, different hermeneutical approaches, etc.
Visit the TEASA website for information on the 2021 event (www.teasa.co.za) and to download the audio recordings of all the keynote addresses and some of the afternoon discussion topics. You can also register online for next year’s event planned for 14-16 June 2022, the Lord willing.
To establish and run a quality Distance Learning Support Centre for the Mukhanyo distance programme, you don’t have to be a pastor, theologian, teacher, secretary, or accountant, but you do have to be equipped in several areas.
On 5 to 8 July 2021, Mukhanyo held its first-ever DLSC Management Training Workshop for tutors and administrators responsible for the running of several Distance Learning Support Centres. Held online via Zoom, it was attended by 14 tutors and 2 administrators, from as far afield as Cape Town, Zambia, Namibia and Botswana. Although some may have been a little apprehensive in attending a training workshop online instead of physically at one of our campuses, all logged off after three days of instruction and interaction, inspired and motivated for the work ahead. Everybody agreed that it was a worthwhile time together.
Apart from going through the processes needed to establish a Mukhanyo DSLC and recruit students, several skills were covered to assist the attendees to run the centres well into the future. Skills included: how to tutor students, marking assessments, student administration, ordering, managing finances, marketing, discipleship, and care.
Two sessions in particular issued personal challenges to the tutors. Firstly the session on discipleship challenged the tutors’ walks with the Lord, reminding them that to qualify to be a disciple-maker, one first has to be a disciple. But what does it mean to be a disciple? This question was answered in detail in this session.
The second challenge came in the final session that asked the question, “Why are we here?”. This session took the tutors from the surface motivations on why they’re involved in the Mukhanyo distance programme down to the heart of their ministry. Each tutor was challenged to assess their motivations, with the understanding that it’s not for fame or fortune, nor just to educate others or fulfil a calling, but to glorify God.
The three-day event was a great success and will be an annual event to be held in July. All Mukhanyo distance tutors and administrators are encouraged to attend.
We look forward to the next key distance event, the annual Distance Forum in September (www.mukhanyo.ac.za/distanceforum.html).
Even before the official opening of the academic year, about thirty students completed one of two intensive courses offered at the Pretoria Centre.
The first intensive course was for six full days during the first two weeks of January. BTh degree students from Pretoria and Johannesburg took the module Christian Apologetics, taught by Prof. Henk Stoker of the Theological School of Potchefstroom. Then on 12-14 and 19-21 January, Honours students were taught the module African Christian Theology by Dr Collium Banda, who recently completed his PhD at NWU.
Such intensive courses have proved to be very popular with our students. The students are immersed in these aspects of biblical studies for the duration of the module. They also benefit from the engaging classroom discussions between themselves and the lecturer.
Dr Voddie Baucham is the keynote speaker of the next Bible College Consultation, along with many other experienced theological education leaders within southern Africa.
The theme for 2021 is “Standing Firm for Truth in Bible Education within Africa”. The Theological Education Association of Southern Africa (TEASA) is hosting this event together with Mukhanyo. More information is published on their website: https://www.teasa.co.za/
Keynote addresses planned for this tenth annual consultation are:
Registration for 2021 will open in February. For now, please save the date, 8-10 June 2021, and pre-register at www.teasa.co.za.