Resetting Theological Education

Malawi books well-received at Union Theological Seminary, Philippines

When the world was in the darkest days of the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdowns were the order of the day, it was common to hear the remark that the unwelcome experience provided an opportunity for a “re-set.” There was a slow-down in the damage we were doing to the environment and there was a sense of pressing a “pause button” on the way the global economy is running. This gave rise to the hope that life after the pandemic would not just be a resumption of the way things were before but would yield an opportunity to “build back better.”

In general, there now seems to be little sense that these hopes are going to be fulfilled. There is, however, one organisation that has sought to follow through on the hopes for a re-set. This is the Council for World Mission (CWM), a global network of churches that emerged from the work of the London Missionary Society. It has envisioned a re-set specifically in the field of theological education.

The approach it has taken is to select 10 theological institutions in different parts of the world to explore and pioneer a re-set. Zomba Theological University is one of them so, together with our Vice Chancellor Takuze Chitsulo, I travelled last week to Manila where we met with representatives of the others to take counsel together.

Much of the discussion revolved around the need to get to grips theologically with the “economy of death” that is so evident in our time. We become ever more aware that the way in which the global economy is running poses grave danger to life on earth. We know too that its exclusionary dynamics are already bringing death to the most vulnerable.

At the same time, we learn that a tiny elite has vastly enriched itself during the pandemic period when the majority were suffering. The so-called “one-percent” of people have amassed obscene amounts of wealth while conditions for people like the rural majority in Malawi become harder and harder.

You do not have to be a genius to realise that a “re-set” is needed. The initiative from CWM aims to equip theology to play its part. We look forward to being part of the journey as we join hands with others attempting to generate theological vision that can meet the crisis of our times.

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