Between 2009 and 2013, during doctoral research in missiology at the Fuller School of Intercultural Studies, I explored the missiological dynamics of theological education and discipleship in the context of Burkina Faso.
Theological education is what I would describe as a culturally-entrenched institution, which has spread around the world as a “global prescription” because of the phenomenal expansionism of the Western missionary movement in the 19th and 20th centuries.
Over the past half-a-century or so, World Christianity has arisen as a global phenomena. As I understand it, World Christianity is not a reference to a unified, human phenomena or organised movement, but rather a recognition that Christianity is now embedded as a highly significant cultural presence, in a significant number of the world’s cultures, in a way that goes far beyond the West’s reach and influence.
Furthermore, a significant part of Western Christianity and Evangelicalism has yet to fully catch up and recognise (much less celebrate) this as a wonderful reality. Too many in the West assume instead, that the different cultures of Christianity beyond the West are indicative of deficient form and theological substance. This results in the continuation of a sense of collective cultural superiority and thus assumption of the need to (continue to) export Western theologies, forms, literature, music, methodologies and leadership styles. The capitalistic forces of globalism tend only to forcefully deepen the impact of these inappropriate assumptions.
At the heart of this entrenched pattern lies the enterprise of Theological Education.