Context and Gospel …a legacy to pass on

Asian Langham Scholars contribute

‘Communicating the Gospel Contextually in Contemporary Asia’ was the theme of the Asian Theological Association (ATA) Triennial General Assembly recently held in Jakarta. More than 220 participants from 27 countries gathered to lively discussions. Older and younger theologians interacted with freedom about creatively presenting the gospel as “good news” within their diverse contexts.

The Langham Scholars

Riad Kassis, Director of Langham Scholars, attended along with Paul Windsor, Paul Barker (Langham Preaching) and Wendy Toulmin (Langham Australia).

Riad remembers a time when in theological circles the talk was all about a ‘unified’ theology, based on theologies coming from the West, to fit all contexts everywhere. Then, as the worldwide church grew, that discussion changed and focused on a more local understanding, a ‘contextual’ or ‘indigenous’ theology for each situation. But today we can no longer separate ‘local’ from ‘global’, instead there has to be serious interaction between ’local’ and ‘global’ in formulating a genuine ‘contextual’ theology. What the Assembly made clear is that Asian theologians are now contributing to this kind of contextual theology.

For Riad it was particularly encouraging that 6 Langham scholars (from India, Philippines, Taiwan, and Lebanon) either presented major papers or responded to major presentations.

Riad with Scholars Shirley Ho & Dwi Handayani

Riad Kassis with Scholars Shirley Ho & Dwi Handayani

At the Assembly, he also met some new Asian scholars: ‘It was my pleasure to meet our newest Langham scholar from Indonesia, Dwi Handayani. Dwi is working on her PhD at Asia Graduate School of Theology (AGST).’ She was introduced to Dr Shirley Ho, a former Langham scholar from the Philippines who now teaches in Taiwan. ‘Both Shirley and Dwi were excited to meet and Shirley graciously expressed her willingness to encourage and support Dwi during her studies.

‘It is really overwhelming how Langham scholars are able to connect easily and to support one another in their work for God’s kingdom, says Riad.

In 2013, another 17 Langham scholars have successfully completed their doctoral programmes. That brings the membership of the international Fellowship of Langham Scholars to 313 men and women from 77 countries.

Let us pray for each of them, as they teach and listen to their surrounding culture amidst the overtones of the global culture. In that context, to find fresh and life-changing application for the words of Scripture, is the legacy Langham Scholars seek to pass on…

from Riad Kassis, Director of Langham Scholars