Discipleship for the whole people of God
The first clear reference to theological education in Scripture was when Moses taught the people of Israel to obey God’s laws and principles so that they could worship him rightly and bear witness to his greatness and wisdom before the nations. Those who received this direction were further instructed to teach their children and grandchildren to do likewise. Christians have continued this tradition by responding to Jesus’ imperative to make disciples by teaching them to obey everything he had commanded (Matt 28:19–20) and to Paul’s injunction that Timothy should pass on what he had learned so that faithful men might teach others also (2 Tim 2:2).
Though Christians often think of theological education in terms of the academy—Bible colleges and seminary programs designed to train professional ministers and scholars—the passages referred to above remind us that instruction about God and his commands cannot be limited to the specialist. Moses’s explicit demand to teach children pushes education in godliness back to the earliest years, highlighting the need for serious—albeit age-relevant—theological teaching in our children’s and youth Sunday school programs and camps. And as he instructs us to teach our children’s children, Moses expects that those who are older are mature enough in their relationship with God that they can pass it on. Biblical discipleship never ends.
This issue of Mission Round Table addresses the theme of theological education within the context of East Asia to encourage us about the present scene and remind us that the whole church is needed to bring the whole counsel of God to his people. Mission is no game, but requires serious theological engagement with God’s church and his world so that all might know and worship him.
The issue begins with a report on the consultation for theological educators that OMF hosted from 21–23 September 2022. Since theological education is not merely a topic for discussion, our final papers give examples of how it can be worked out in real church and institutional settings.
Walter McConnell, Editor