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The Confessional Character of Theological Education and the Training of Disciples

Carver T. Yu
President and Professor of Dogmatic Theology China Graduate School of Theology, Hong Kong
Title: The Confessional Character of Theological Education and the Training of Disciples

“Rooted in the Word, Engaged in the World”—this title of the ICETE 2012 Consultation expresses the evangelical spirit and commitment extremely well. However, we need to see the inner dialectic between the two. To be genuinely rooted in the Word, the church has to be passionately engaged in the world. Failure to engage in the world is a sign of not being truly rooted in an obedient way. On the other hand, to be relevant and forcefully engaged, the church has to be firmly rooted in the Word. Without this rootedness, there can be no relevant and life-transforming message from the church. Prophets in the OT are intensely relevant and powerful in their message. Why? because they “have been spoken to”. The word “prophet” means precisely “the one who has been spoken to”. The main characteristic of a prophet is not in his speaking, but in the fact that he has been spoken to by God. He speaks out of obedience to speak the message entrusted to him. With no message entrusted, he has no need to speak. Jeremiah has been spoken to, and this causes him great pain as he laments, albeit with a sense of relief, “Whenever I speak, I cry out, proclaiming violence and destruction, the Word of God has brought me insult and reproach…But if I say I will not mention Him and speak anymore in His name, His Word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bone.” (Jeremiah 20:8-9). This morning as I am prepared to speak about rootedness in theological education, there is a fire in my bone too. After being in the business of theological education for more than thirty years, right at the end of my ministry, there has emerged resounding doubts about the effectiveness of what I have been doing and what I have defended earnestly. Now let me share with you my struggle.

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