by Dietrich Werner, David Esterline, Namsoon Kang, and Joshva Raja, eds.
Regnum, Woodstock Road, Oxford, OX2 6HR, U.K., 800 pages, 2010, $175 (hardback), $80 (paperback).
—Reviewed by Richard L. Starcher, Cook School of Intercultural Studies, Biola University; former Evangelical Free Church Mission missionary to Africa.
What’s happened in global theological education since Edinburgh 1910? What’s happening around the world today? What’s new? What’s old? What’s working? What’s not? The Handbook of Theological Education in World Christianity seeks to answer these (and other) questions. A collaborative effort of the World Council of Churches and three partner organizations, the Handbook aims “to map and analyze developments in theological education on a global scale”—an ambitious task even for a 759-page tome.
Nearly one hundred contributors, drawn from a wide variety of countries and churches, explore contemporary issues, regional perspectives, and confessional identities (Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Anglican, Lutheran, Reformed, Methodist, Baptist, Evangelical, and Pentecostal). The editors allocate a generous one-third of the section on confessional identities to Evangelical and Pentecostal traditions.
In addition to the usual emphasis on quality issues, contextualization, and models of theological education, the Handbook explores topics such as interfaith dialogue, people with disabilities, HIV/AIDS, gender concerns, race, power, migration, and post-colonial issues. The unique collection of essays on African, Asian, Pacific & Australian, Middle Eastern, North American, Eastern & Central European, and Western European perspectives is particularly rich.
While the editors are unabashedly and intensely ecumenical, the Handbook has much to offer readers outside that movement. Like nearly all edited works, the Handbook is a mix of both anemic and thoughtful chapters. If the volume has one dominant limitation, it is that the number and brevity of essays prevents the contributing authors from delving deeply into any single topic. A few, like Steve de Gruchy writing on theological education and missional practice, manage to surmount this challenge. At the same time, the book succeeds in introducing the reader to a breadth of topics and perspectives that few, if any, students of theological education are familiar with.
The book’s length and cost make it unlikely bedside reading for the average missionary. Nevertheless, the Handbook is a volume no serious seminary or missionary training college library will want to be without. It is a veritable storehouse of timely, relevant material on theological education around the world. The appendix alone alerts scholars to scores of helpful websites.
EMQ, Vol. 47, No. 3, pp. 380. Copyright © 2011 Evangelism and Missions Information Service (EMIS). All rights reserved. Not to be reproduced or copied in any form without written permission from EMIS.