What is the purpose of theological education? Theological education serves the Church by training church leadership, to equip the saints for ministry work, to prepare believers to fulfil their mission. Theological education is more than an educational exercise. It must get the student to understand God’s spiritual visions and mission, thinking God’s thoughts and doings God’s deeds. It must touch the student’s heart, head and hands.
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:
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?
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.