The Calling of Asian Scholars
Last month, from 18–20 July, 86 scholars of various nationalities, all of whom serve the Asian church, gathered together for the 2017 Theological Consultation of the Asia Theological Association (ATA). Together they grappled with “The Calling of the Asian Biblical Scholar/Theologian: Challenges Facing Asian Evangelicals Today.” This was graciously hosted by Seminari Alkitab Asia Tenggara (SAAT) in their very beautiful campus in Malang, Indonesia.
One of the highlights of the consultation was the launching of the new Asia Bible Commentary Series volume on Matthew, Langham Global Library, written by Samson Uytanlet, and a book on Christology from the Asian Context entitled Jesus Among the Nations, Asia Theological Association, edited by Federico Villanueva and Stephen Pardue.
Four Langham scholars presented papers during the consultation: (1) The Calling of an Asian Evangelical Scholar: A Biblical Scholar’s Perspective, by Federico Villanueva; (2) Doing Contextual Systematic Theology in Asia: Challenges and Prospects, by Timoteo Gener; (3) Spotting the Sacred: Social Location as Frame for the Scholar’s Vocation, by Rolex Cailing; and (2) Female Evangelical Scholars in Indonesia: A Crisis or Opportunity?, by Dwi Maria Handayani.
In conjunction with the papers presented, the participants were grouped by region to discuss the top pressing issues in their respective contexts and the ways they can be addressed by the church, an activity facilitated by Theresa Lua, General Secretary of the ATA. After all the papers and group meetings, the participants wrestled with the question of where to go from here through a discussion facilitated by Varughese John with members of the panel including Rodrigo Tano, Andrew Prince, Martus Maleachi, and Daniel Owens. In the final session, emerging insights and action plans gleaned from the consultation were creatively presented by Steve Chang.
While all of the participants took home a number of different things, common to most of them was the need for multidisciplinary collaboration and dialogue – in other words, a community of learners from diverse disciplines coming together to converse about issues facing evangelical Christians today. It’s not difficult to see that this may well be the beginning of even greater things in Asia and beyond!
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