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.
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.
Registration is now open for the TEASA Bible College Consultation on 8-10 June 2021. The theme this year is Standing FIRM for TRUTH in Bible Education within Africa.
A number of experienced speakers are scheduled to present this year, including Dr Siegfried Ngubane, Prof Henk Stoker, Rev Rodgers Atwebembeire, and Prof Vhumani Magezi.
The three focus areas at the consultation this year are:
During the afternoons will be a number of parallel sessions in line with the theme. See www.teasa.co.za for further details.
Thanks to the generosity of several donors, each consultation participant will receive several free books, and all Bible colleges/schools in attendance will receive a free stack of additional library resources. A large selection of quality books – both new and used – will be available for purchase at reasonable prices.
Each educational institution in southern Africa that has registered participants before 31 May will be given space for a display table and be invited to give a presentation about their ministry.
There are also some funds available to assist with the fees and expenses for participants from schools with financial constraints. Please contact Helen Masina <email@example.com> for more information.
Click here for online registration: https://www.teasa.co.za/registration.html
This event is usually attended each year by well over a hundred representatives from many theological institutions and Bible colleges across Southern Africa. Last year it could not take place, but this year the organisers decided to continue with plans for 2021 since the fellowship and fruitful discussions are too valuable to postpone again, unless it is required by the circumstances.
Please pray with us for another wonderful time of fellowship and mutual learning. Forward this email to all your contacts who are involved in Bible education in Africa. Registration closes after 31 May.
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.