Biblical Seminary of HK's Headmaster Calls for New Type of Theological Education
By Ruth Wang, November 02, 2016 00:11 AM
Theological education is critical to the development of the church. What is the current situation of theological education? What type of theological education can promote the development of the church?
At the Sino-Korea Joint Revival Conference held on Jeju Island, South Korea at the end of September, He Chao-Xiong, headmaster of the Biblical Seminary of Hong Kong shared his views on theological education. He also quoted a number of surveys on theological education conducted by the church in Hong Kong.
After introducing the general classification of the world's theological education, he emphasized that the theological education in China's churches should be based on the local conditions.
The headmaster said that the whole theological education and training should be divided into five stages: catechism class, disciple course, volunteer program, worker training and pastor training.
According to the survey, most churches in Hong Kong only have catechism class and disciple course, because it is difficult to start the volunteer program, worker training and pastor training for them.
The headmaster cited 2014 Census of the Church in Hong Kong. Fewer church members receive full-time theological education compared with 2009. Most of them are local students.
64.8 percent of the churches have arranged on-the-job training for fellow workers. Fewer and fewer pastors and fellow workers receive training in the church. It is estimated that the training in the church is still aimed at the disciples in the next three years.
Believers' quality has declined in more than half of the churches. The headmaster talked about the current situation of most churches:
"Many believers found that the Bible course couldn't satisfy their needs anymore because fellow workers are not capable enough to teach them."
"Fellow workers do not understand what "Teach" is. To teach a church member, we should not only persuade him to have confidence and love but also help them figure out the reasons for doing so. Many church members know what we Christians should do, but they don't know why."
"The church always set Bible classes for new believers. However, there is no disciple course, volunteer program or worker training after the Bible class. Everyone is busy with making money and dealing family affairs. They have no time to receive training in the church."
The headmaster said that we should strengthen the vulnerable part of today's theological education. It is not enough to provide catechism class and disciple course only.
He emphasized that pastors should improve themselves first so that believers will be improved. The shepherding of believers is not just primary training. He also said that we should pay attention to the new challenges in theological education.
There are more kinds of jobs in the church. Half of the fellow workers are responsible for administration while others are responsible for preaching the gospel. It is generally accepted that only pastors need training. In fact, those workers who don' stand on the podium also need theological training.
At the same time, the ministry in the church requires different kinds of knowledge. Pastors should know about social care, business, and youngsters.
Skills of counseling are as important as that of preaching. Before preaching we should listen to others' needs first. The church in China needs to update ideas and see the importance of professional theological education.
"Peter did not go to the seminary so I don't have to receive a theological education. The most important thing is to work for God." Many preachers in China think so.
In addition, some pastors found that young people did not obey their words anymore after learning theology. The headmaster said that when believers learn more about theology, it is natural that they would ask more. However, it doesn't mean that believers will disobey their words.
"Theology cannot be learned by oneself. Hong Xiuquan read the Bible and had his own explanation. Finally, he set up the Taiping Heavenly Kingdom, which is not in accordance with Christianity at all."
It is difficult to learn the Bible alone. In the past, everyone said, "God can do all things I can't do". Different preachers have different interpretations of the sentence.
In fact, you cannot interpret theology in your own way so theological training is necessary. For example, if a beauty asks a pastor to pray for her, the pastor should refuse her.
The purpose of theological training is to develop the church leaders' abilities to explore, analyze and reorganize things.
As the leader of the church, judgment is important. Theological training can help us form a judgment.
The headmaster introduced three kinds of theological training:
In a monastery, Christians can worship, pray, study and work at the same time. However, they are separated from the outside world. Their theological knowledge is out of date.
For example, some pastors come out of the monastery to preside over the rituals, but they are not accustomed to the world.
2. College-style seminary
The college-styled seminary has rigorous intellectual training. This kind of seminary places much importance on the diploma and academic research. However, the cultivation of characters and spirituality is ignored. From the perspective of the academy, the university in the secular world has made more achievement than seminaries, especially the universities in Germany.
3. Disciples' training
This kind of training imitates the life in the church. Full-time workers can also teach at the seminary. However, necessary academic research and rational training is not enough.
For example, training of many fellow workers will not be conducted in the seminary. They will be trained in the church.
After analyzing the three major types of theological education, the headmaster put forward the fourth kind.
He said that his seminary provides theological education according to different needs of people in different regions. The main three kinds of theological training in the world are mixed in his seminary. He said that now the church in Hong Kong began to adopt the fourth kind of training.
The headmaster emphasized that different regions have different characteristics. The seminary in Hong Kong is set to satisfy the needs of the church in Hong Kong. The seminary in China Mainland shall be different from that in Hong Kong due to different cultures.
It is essential to design an appropriate theological education model according to the specific theological requirements of local people.
Theology must be comprehensive and God's leadership won't be ignored, the headmaster also emphasized.
Knowing theology is not enough, we should also know the way of the world, society or management. However, without theology, we can do nothing.
He took the charity activities of the church as an example. "The church can hold charity activities. However, if we don't integrate theology with these activities, the church will become a welfare institution instead of a church."
The church is not only a place for charity work but also the God's home. We worship God in a church. For example, a dedication of 10,000 yuan is as meaningful as a dedication of 100,000 yuan.
Theology can help us find out the core value of things. Theology means understanding God and learning about God. Paul says that he knows God. We should follow his example."
One of the audience asked: " If we are totally immersed in theology, will we ignore the leading of God?"
The headmaster said there is no conflict between the guidance of the Holy Spirit and theological education. We need to understand the Bible and theology, which is in accordance with the requirements of the Holy Spirit.
If God asks you to preach the gospel in Africa, he will ultimately give you the answer.
Have a thorough understanding of the Bible is much better than knowing nothing about it. For example, people pray for rain and harvest. Someone hates rain because if it rains, he couldn't preach the gospel. So should we pray for rain or not?
Some people say that the Holy Spirit touched them and they want to marry the pastor. However, the pastor already has a wife. The guidance of the Holy Spirit can't go against the Bible. A pastor can't decide the answer to believers' questions.
Our judgment shall be made on the basis of theology. In the end, we will see that everything is under the guidance of God. It is not allowed to violate the Bible.
More from CCD
Which Bible verses should you read this Palm Sunday?
Listen to Pope Francis' latest sermon for this Spring and how relates to Christian growth.
Check out how 'I Can Only Imagine' star Dennis Quaid changed after the movie and how his faith had blossomed further.
The fourth "Nanjing Peace Pilgrimage"took place in Nanjing from March 10 to 13, 2018, attended by members from the YWCAs of Japan and China.
Which verses from the Bible should you read if you wish to heal yourself from heartaches and other problems?
Is failure really the end or is it the beginning?
A guest professor gave a lecture named "A Glance Back: Chinese Women in the Past Forty Years" in Beijing.
Recently CCD interviewed Long Guangyuan, the choir director, to share their first international trips.
Which verses should you read when you feel that evil targets you?
Find out which elements in this new movie are inspired by the Bible.