May 26, 2008
One of the obscure journals to which I subscribe is called Journal of Anglican Studies, an Australian publication that comes out twice a year. The most recent edition (Volume 6.1 June 2008) includes a number of papers from the National Anglican Identity Formation Project. The assumption of the project is that Anglicanism has “embedded itself in local society and culture” that leads to a great diversity of expression, style and practices” according to Stephen Pickard, a bishop in the diocese of
Almost all the authors talk of an increased need for ‘contextualizing’ theological education and training for ministry. Victor Atta-Baffo is principal of St. Nicholas’ Seminary in
A couple of the essays are quite revealing of unexamined claims that function as ‘plain truth’ for the authors but which are questionable on their face. Michael O. Fape is Bishop of Remo in
Much more useful in this respect is the contribution by Joseph Galgalo and Esther Mombo, both distinguished leaders in theological education in
I think there may be a clue to understanding some of the intensity around these issues (with the resultant increased interest in indigenous contextualized theological education in Africa) in the contribution of Jenny Plane Te Paa, a seminary dean from Aotearoa New Zealand, who is celebrating moving from a mono-cultural form of theological education to a multi-cultural reality.(p.55) I find myself wondering if the ‘doctrine first’ movement (and not just any doctrine but ‘traditional, orthodox doctrine as it is claimed) is not really a movement for Christian mono-culturalism with lip service being paid to contextualization. As Bishop Fape makes clear this contextualizing movement is a good thing as long as it does not ‘jettison the authority of scripture’. Underlying some of these essays is the notion of an unchanging truth that gets contextualized but that there are limits to the expressions it can take Won’t this run up against the limits of Christian Platonism sooner rather than later?