Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Looking Back... Looking Ahead

I have just returned from a TBS faculty retreat where we looked back at the past year and looked ahead to the year before us. Such times are extremely valuable because they give us a chance to reflect on what we are doing and why. Providing theological education that is biblical and balanced is a challenge in our day. In order to fulfill our responsibilities as educators we must remain true to 'the faith that the Lord has once for all entrusted to us, his people,' while at the same time making sure that we understand that 'faith' and we are applying it properly in our present setting.

This is not as simple as some believe because we all read the scriptures through our own interpretive glasses and we tend to think that our way of seeing things is right. This is not to suggest that we know nothing at all. Thankfully substantial progress has been made down through the years as the Holy Spirit has guided and taught the people of God. But almost everyone agrees that all issues are not yet settled. This is particularly true when it comes to the application of the word of God where there is room for discussion, debate and the creative implementation of truth.

As we look forward to a new year we will continue to place the emphasis on the biblical languages, biblical and systematic theology, church history and historical theology, pastoral theology, missions, apologetics, ethics and much more. Never has it been more important to know what the Bible teaches in these areas, as well as what is currently being taught and believed. It is a challenge to stay abreast of new developments, to assess them in light of scripture and the previous teaching of the church, and then to present them to students in a way that will be helpful to them in real life ministry situations. Fortunately, there is no shortage of resources, and there are many around the world who are committed to these same objectives.

Also, in our part of the world we also enjoy the support of a growing number of pastors and churches who are also committed to bringing all aspects of life under the lordship of Jesus Christ. I, for one, am thankful for the challenges of the hour because it keeps schools and churches from resting on the past, and instead motivates us to press forward in our walk with God. His use of circumstances, movements, theories and trends to purify the understanding and devotion of his people is nothing short of remarkable. In all the turmoil of academic life, and life beyond the academy, it is reassuring to know that in the end, when the dust settles, God's purposes will stand and he will accomplish all that he planned to do.

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