Academic training is only a tool that the church uses to prepare its members for ministry. Bible colleges have a higher calling than academic training: revival, reformation, spiritual transformation; to understand and know God, to look after God’s flock.
Although the accreditation of courses with the authorities has its place, it is not the main priority. Much can be done by local churches, for example training elders and deacons and also pastors. And one church can do it for others. Colleges can do it for many churches. The priority should be to be faithful to the Word of God and get well-trained and qualified church leaders.
Some cautions for theological education
Words of warnings were sounded in many of the presentations at the Bible College Consultation this year. To name a few:
- Most Bible colleges, all over Africa, are financially dependent, something which is not sustainable, seen from a human point of view. But is this so from God’s point of view? God looks after the Bible colleges if they take responsibility and teach according to His Word. Ora et Labora!
- Africa is facing a very long list of social and economic issues according to research by a number of international organisations. Do we understand the issues and circumstances in which we have to minister? Or did Paul rather preach the gospel regardless of the circumstances?
- People don’t read the Bible. There is a lack of knowledge of God’s will, something the Bible teaches is fatal.
- Don’t try to evangelise people if there is no trust between you and the others. You need time to build trust, respect, love and acceptance. Learn to listen and to ask questions. Don’t say you disagree. Learn how Christ did it.
- Be warned that in times of universal deceit, the Gospel truth will be seen by the world as revolutionary (Joshua 24, Romans 2:2)
Facing the clash of cultures
The Book of Daniel can be seen as a case-study on how to handle a clash of the Christian culture against a secular culture, while you know there is only one way and that is through Jesus Christ. Or how to remain a faithful African Christian and still under Western influential multilateral organisations with their own worldviews.
Daniel and his friends were forcefully removed from their own culture and brainwashed. How did they react?
- They submitted to the providence of God and still excelled where they were in a foreign culture.
- They refused to be morally, theologically and spiritually compromised.
- They confessed their own inadequateness, only finding their strength in God.
- They bend to the superiority of God above the local religion.
How did they do that? By praying for the people and culture around them – their enemies. By telling them the shortcomings of their culture. By telling the king that they will only listen to and believe in God.