More Information
ISBN: 9781783684137
Imprint: Langham Global Library
Format: Paperback
Dimensions (mm): 229 x 152 x 26
Publication Date: 31/03/2018
Pages: 508
Series: ICETE Series
Language: English

Challenging Tradition

Innovation in Advanced Theological Education


The surge of theological education in the rapidly growing church of the Majority World has highlighted the inadequacy of traditional Western methods of thinking and learning to fully accomplish the task at hand. The limitations of current theological education are embodied in the formation and assessment of the master’s or doctoral dissertation; processes that follow a linear-empiricist tradition developed in the West and exported to the Majority World. Challenging Tradition: Innovation in Advanced Theological Studies highlights the need for these traditions to be reconsidered in every context throughout the world. Drs Shaw and Dharamraj, with their team of contributors, present innovations in research and documentation that demonstrate how we may better prepare theological leadership through means that are contextually relevant and locally meaningful.

Author Bios

Perry Shaw
(Edited By)

Perry Shaw is Researcher in Residence at Morling College, Sydney, Australia, and author of Transforming Theological Education. Prior to moving to Australia, Perry and his family served from 1990 to 2019 in the Middle East. During the 1990s, he helped to establish extension centres in Syria for the PTEE (the Programme for Theological Education by Extension). He then taught at the Near East School of Theology (Beirut) during the early years of the millennium, joining the Faculty of the Arab Baptist Theological Seminary (ABTS, Beirut) in 2007, where he served as Professor of Education. While at ABTS, Perry was closely involved in the development of their highly innovative curriculum, while also becoming increasingly involved in international consultancy for theological education. Perry has authored two TEE texts, The Acts of the Apostles and The Art of Teaching and co-edited the collection Challenging Tradition: Innovation in Advanced Theological Education. He has also published numerous articles in the fields of theological education, intercultural studies, and Christian leadership.

Havilah Dharamraj
(Edited By)

HALIVAH DHARAMRAJ, PhD (Durham, UK), is the Academic Dean at the South Asia Institute of Advanced Christian Studies, where she teaches Old Testament. She is one of the editors of, and a contributor to, the South Asia Bible Commentary.


Challenging Tradition: Innovation in Advanced Theological Education is a rich collection of the work of twenty-three global theological scholars, who share about their own life and experience serving in theological education in the Majority World for many years. Theological educators and church leaders committed to develop disciples of Jesus Christ, who are able to serve effectively in theological education institutions and churches in their own contexts, will benefit with this valuable resource.

Orbelina Eguizabal, PhD
Professor of Christian Higher Education,
Talbot School of Theology, Biola University
Former professor and academic dean at SETECA, Guatemala

This book challenges the “one-size-fits-all” approach in higher education which favors the western model of linear-empiricist study. While not discounting the strengths of this classic approach, the book points out its limitationsconsidering the different patterns of learning and communication in Majority World contexts. Most certainly, this book will spur the much-needed changes in advanced theological studies!

Theresa Roco-Lua, EdD
General Secretary, Asia Theological Association

In Challenging Tradition, we are offered an invaluable insight into alternative and innovative approaches to theological education and advanced theological studies. I found the insights of this book both challenging and thrilling, and believe that this book will help renew and transform theological education worldwide.

Graham Hill, PhD
Provost, Morling College, Sydney, Australia
Author of GlobalChurch

Most of theological education in the world is in crisis. The problem is not the resources or the curriculum or teachers. The real problem is the lack of vision to our time. The world has changed, the church has changed, and the ministry has changed, but theological education remains the same. This book that has the intention to change this situation with a creative and challenging approach. All who have a real concern about advanced theological education for the present and the future must read this book, not just to be aware of new ideas but to be part of this revolution.

Norberto Saracco, PhD
Founder, Facultad Internacional de Educación Teológica (FIET)

As the epicenter of global Christianity is shifting to the Global South, it is time to hear the theological and educational issues facing the changing world from the perspectives of those in the Majority World. This is a must read for all theological educators and church leaders.

Joseph Shao, PhD
Biblical Seminary of the Philippines

Challenging Tradition issues a welcome and timely call for theological institutions and educators in the Majority World to move beyond the linearempiricist model of theological research that dominates the Western academy, adopting and adapting alternative models of research that are equally rigorous but are more suitable for non-Western ways of thinking and communicating. [It] provides practical options without sacrificing a commitment to rigour.

Kevin Smith, PhD
South African Theological Seminary

A most helpful collection of writings for Asian seminaries considering alternative approaches to the traditional way of carrying out their graduate programs. The text has encouraged and challenged me to explore approaches that are consistent with a Trinitarian conception of learning and knowing and which form the whole person. I will recommend that my colleagues study the text for help to better equip theological leaders.

Sunny Tan, ThD
Director of Theology Programs, Asia Graduate School of Theology (Alliance)
Academic Dean, Malaysia Baptist Theological Seminary, Penang, Malaysia

This expansive collection of essays joins a growing number of efforts questioning PhD education in the theological disciplines: Is the degree too expensive and take too much time? Does it impose an intellectual pattern that is insensitive to other patterns of intellectual effort? How does it advance the work and witness of communities of faith? While the editors state that the intended audience is leaders of emerging programs of advanced theological studies in the Majority World, these essays have considerable value for theological educators in the West as well.

Daniel O. Aleshire, PhD
Former Executive Director,
The Association of Theological Schools in the United States and Canada
The Commission on Accrediting

Table of Contents

Introduction - Perry Shaw and Havilah Dharamraj

Section I: Principles for Innovation in Advanced Theological Studies
  1. 1. My Journey into Theological Education - Ashish Chrispal
  2. 2. A Context Conducive to Innovation: How Changes in Doctoral Education Create New Opportunities for
  3. Developing Theological Leaders - Evan R. Hunter
  4. 3. Innovation and Criteria: Ensuring Standards While Promoting Innovative Approaches - Perry Shaw
  5. 4. “What You Get Is What You See”? Addressing the Hidden Curriculum of Doctoral Studies - Allan Harkness
  6. 5. Culture, Gender, and Diversity in Advanced Theological Studies - Perry Shaw
  7. 6. The Imperative of Cultural Integration in Advanced Theological Studies: Perspectives from the Majority World - Lal Senanayake
  8. 7. Scholarship in Our Own Words: Intercultural Rhetoric in Academic Writing and Reporting - Stephanie L. Black
  9. 8. Nurturing Emancipatory Local Knowledges - César Lopes
  10. 9. A Theology for Advanced Theological Studies - Ian W. Payne

Section II: Innovative Possibilities for the Dissertation
  1. 10. Pathways of Integration for Theological Knowledge: Integrative Knowing/Learning for Thesis Construction in Advanced Theological Studies - Paul Allan Clark
  2. 11. Problem-Based Learning in Advanced Theological Studies - John Jusu
  3. 12. Action Research for Theological Impact: Reflections from an Arab Context - Caleb Hutcherson with Bassem Melki
  4. 13. Studying Together: Joint and Collaborative Research - Rafael Zaracho
  5. 14. Chicken Theology: Local Learning Approaches from West Africa - Jay Moon
  6. 15. Ethnohermeneutics and Advanced Theological Studies: Towards Culturally Appropriate Methodologies for Doctoral Programs - Larry Caldwell
  7. 16. Boldly Go! Tracking Trends in Comparative Literature - Havilah Dharamraj

Section III: Innovative Forms of Advanced Theological Studies
  1. 17. Exploring the Possibilities of Portfolio as an Alternative to the Traditional Dissertation - Joanna Feliciano-Soberano
  2. 18. Digital Scholarship - Marvin Oxenham
  3. 19. Doing Theology from the “Land of Samba”: Integrating Personal Experience in the Task of Advanced Theological Research - Samuel Ewell
  4. 20. Telling Tales: Stories That Embox Theology - Havilah Dharamraj
  5. 21. Proverbs as Theology - Dwi Maria Handayani
  6. 22. Poetry as Theology: A Creative Path - Xiaoli Yang
  7. 23. Verse by Verse: The Use of Poetry in Advanced Theological Education - Havilah Dharamraj, Xiaoli Yang, Grace al-Zoughbi Arteen, and Karen Shaw
  8. Epilogue

About the Contributors
Author Index
Subject Index


Stephanie Black

STEPHANIE BLACK, PhD, currently based in Dublin, Ireland, serves as an international theological education specialist with Serge in partnership with World Outreach of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church. She is also Affiliate Associate Professor of New Testament at Fuller Theological Seminary. Her doctoral work was in biblical Greek and linguistic theory. She describes her many years teaching in theological higher education in Ethiopia, Kenya, and India as an ongoing journey of discovery – about God, about herself, about culture, and about the gospel: “It’s theology on safari!” She is grateful to the students and colleagues from around the world who have joined and guided her in this journey.

Larry W. Caldwell

LARRY W. CALDWELL, PhD, is Academic Dean and Professor of Intercultural Studies at Sioux Falls Seminary in Sioux Falls, SD. In addition, he is Director of Training and Strategy for Converge Worldwide. Prior to this, he and his family were missionaries with Converge for twenty-one years in Manila, Philippines, where he was Academic Dean and Professor of Missions and Bible Interpretation at Asian Theological Seminary, as well as Director of the Doctor of Missiology program of the Asia Graduate School of Theology, Philippines. Larry teaches regularly on contextualization and cross-cultural Bible interpretation (ethnohermeneutics) at missionary training institutions throughout the world. He has authored dozens of books and articles, and for several years edited the Journal of Asian Mission. His latest book is Doing Bible Interpretation: Making the Bible Come Alive for Yourself and Your People.

Ashish Chrispal

ASHISH CHRISPAL, PhD, is a pastor, grassroots missionaries’ trainer, and theological education facilitator. Ashish has served with Overseas Council for the last ten years equipping seminaries in Asia to rethink theological education through being missional and ministry-oriented with a scholarly focus for the Lord’s glory.

Paul Allan Clark

PAUL ALLAN CLARK is the Director of Education and Engagement with Overseas Council, where he oversees the Institute for Excellence. Pastoral and missionary experiences combine into a life as teacher, discipler, and facilitator of transforming theological education and Christian leaders. During twenty- five years in Brazil, Paul discovered his joy in transforming leaders for ministry. He completed his PhD in Theology through the Programa Doutoral Latino- Americano and Facultad Internacional de Educación Teologica in 2017. Paul is married to Karen, and they have five married children and nine grandchildren, spread across the Americas.

Samuel Ewell

SAMUEL EWELL served in Brazil as a missionary from 2003 to 2010 with his wife Rosalee and their three children James, Isabella, and Katharine. Since 2010 the Ewells have resided in Birmingham, UK, where Sam has recently completed his PhD on Ivan Illich and Christian witness (Faith Seeking Conviviality, publication forthcoming with Wipf and Stock). As an ordained minister and member of Companions for Hope, a Christian collective based in Summerfield-Winson Green, Sam combines prison and community engagement, urban agriculture, and theological facilitation as a way of cultivating abundant community at the edges of inner-city Birmingham, especially among the “discarded.” Sam’s research interests include the intersection of Christian spirituality and practical theology, exploring personal, social, and ecological transformation in the midst of the “throwaway culture.”

Joanna Feliciano-Soberano

JOANNA FELICIANO-SOBERANO is Academic Dean and Chair of the Christian Education Department at Asian Theological Seminary (ATS) in Manila, Philippines. She earned her ThM degree in Spirituality from Regent College in Vancouver, BC, and a PhD in Educational Studies from Trinity International University in Deerfield, IL. She is married to Fernando and they have a grown-up son. Joanna has worked as a full-time faculty member at ATS since 1998. She has been a GATE Associate (Global Associates for Transformational Education) since 2012. Her ministry involvement with ATS and with GATE has provided her with opportunities for growth in leadership and in teaching. These learning experiences have also strengthened her resolve to be a high- impact teacher.

Dwi Maria Handayani

DWI HANDAYANI, a Langham Scholar, is a graduate of Asia Graduate Theological Seminary, Manila. She has taught at the Bandung Theological Seminary, Indonesia, since 2005 and is also a trainer in the Langham Preaching programme. Her published writing includes Spiritual Formation for Today’s Indonesian Churches through the Psalms of Lament, International Journal for Religious Freedom; Lament Psalms and the Persecuted Churches in Asia, in Light for Our Path: The Authority, Inspiration, Meaning and Mission of Scripture (ATA); and the chapter (co-authored) A Doxological Framework for Interpreting Discrimination, Persecution and Martyrdom in Freedom of Belief and Christian Mission (Regnum Edinburgh Centenary Series).

Allan Harkness

ALLAN HARKNESS, MA, BD, PhD (Murdoch, Western Australia) is Dean and Education Programs Director of AGST Alliance. He has authored a number of articles and book chapters in the fields of Christian education and theological education. A former editor of the Journal of Christian Education, he is currently on the editorial board of two academic journals in these fields. From New Zealand, Allan and his wife Marven have lived and served in S. E. Asia for most of the time since 1988, as members of OMF International. He is based in Singapore, where he also serves on several medical and research ethics committees and panels. Allan may be contacted by email: allan.harkness@

Evan Hunter

EVAN HUNTER, PhD (Trinity Evangelical Divinity School), has served as Vice President (Scholar Network) of ScholarLeaders International since 2004, drawn by the commitment to developing leaders for the Majority World church. He brings a passion for both the church and the seminary to his work with ScholarLeaders and as editor of the InSights Journal for Global Theological Education. In his role, he has had the privilege to work with hundreds of gifted women and men who serve in theological education across Africa, Asia, Latin America, the Middle East, and Eastern Europe. From his vantage point, he sees significant opportunities for schools to develop new, contextually engaged training models that will both meet the demand for equipping for kingdom service and creatively address some of the mounting pressures on theological education. Evan and his wife Becky live in Minnesota, where they keep up with their three very active sons.

Caleb Hutcherson

CALEB HUTCHERSON serves as Faculty Development Lead and Lecturer in Historical Theology at the Arab Baptist Theological Seminary, Beirut, Lebanon. After completing his ThM at Dallas Theological Seminary, Caleb and his wife, Nicolette, replanted themselves in Beirut, Lebanon, to partner with the Lebanese Baptist Church in theological education and compassion ministries. Creative experimentation is somewhat of a tradition for Caleb, having grown up in a family that often did things a little differently. His theological mentors all had extensive backgrounds of ministry outside of “Western” frameworks; they encouraged creativity in their classrooms and inspired Caleb to embrace innovation as he came to theological studies. Caleb is currently a PhD candidate at the International Baptist Theological Study Centre at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. His research explores the dynamics of practising theological reflection in Arab-Muslim contexts.

John Jusu

JOHN JUSU (PhD) is a missionary of the Association of Evangelicals in Africa, seconded to the Africa International University in Nairobi, Kenya. He is an ordained minister of the Church of the United Brethren in Christ, Sierra Leone. He is currently on an extended leave of absence from the university and is serving with the Overseas Council International as Africa Regional Director. He works extensively on transformational curriculum issues in response to the context in which formal and non-formal education happens in Africa. His expertise is in understanding the epistemological frameworks of Africans striving to go into pastoral and teaching ministries of the church in Africa, and how that understanding may influence educational practices. In light of this expertise, John serves as Curriculum Consultant for the More Than a Mile Deep – Global Curriculum, Supervising Editor for the Africa Study Bible, Senior Researcher for the Africa Leadership Study, and member of the Global Associates for Transformational Education. John is also involved in faculty development for many educational initiatives in Africa. John is married to Tity. They have three children.

César Lopes

CÉSAR LOPES has been working in theological education in Brazil since 2000. He was among the first students of South American Theological Seminary (SATS, Brazil), joining the faculty after graduation, and in 2013 completed the PhD in Education Studies program at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, where he received support from both Langham Partnership and ScholarLeaders International. César is married to Amanda and they have two daughters, Giovana and Luiza. He currently serves as Academic Dean for an online program of pastor formation for the Independent Presbyterian Church in Brazil and on the Board of Directors of CETI (Center for Interdisciplinary Theological Studies), an organization based in Costa Rica offering certificate and master’s programs that cater to Latin America in general.

Bassem Melki

BASSEM MELKI is Dean of Students at the Arab Baptist Theological Seminary. He also serves as a consultant to the Peacemaking Initiative Team of ABTS’s Institute for Middle East Studies. Bassem’s deep concern is to have Christ’s message of reconciliation lived out in practice in contexts of conflict. To deepen his understanding of possible pathways to culturally relevant and biblically faithful approaches to peacemaking, Bassem is pursuing a PhD in Biblical Peacemaking through the International Graduate School of Leadership, Philippines. He would never have entered this program if it were not for the non-traditional approach to advanced studies promoted, including the option to use action research as the methodology for his final project. Bassem is married to Roula and they have two children, Samantha and Brandon.

W. Jay Moon

W. JAY MOON, PhD, is a Professor of Evangelism and Church Planting at Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, KY. In addition, he directs the Office of Faith, Work, and Economics at Asbury Theological Seminary. Prior to this, he and his family were missionaries with SIM for thirteen years, including nine years serving in Ghana, West Africa, doing church planting and water development among the Builsa people. It was in Ghana that he first learned about oral cultures as he learned and collected local African proverbs. He has authored three books, the latest being Intercultural Discipleship: Learning from Global Approaches to Spiritual Formation, published by Baker Academic. In his spare time, he has developed digital hybrid books for the new digit-oral generation of learners.

Marvin Oxenham

MARVIN OXENHAM is an interdisciplinary scholar, holding completed degrees in theology, philosophy, and education, having done his doctoral work at King’s College London in educational philosophy and later specializing in online and distance education. He is also a practitioner in theological education, having served as Academic Dean at the London School of Theology, where he currently holds the post of Director of Online Education and Program Leader for the MA in Theological Education, an innovative postgraduate and doctoral program aimed at providing professional and scholarly educational training for global theological educators. He also serves as Coordinator for the European Evangelical Accrediting Association (ICETE member) and has been Regional Consultant for Europe for Overseas Council. Marvin was born and lives in Rome, Italy.

Ian Payne

IAN PAYNE is Principal and Lecturer in Theology at South Asia Institute of Advanced Christian Studies, Bangalore, India. He has his PhD in Theology from the University of Aberdeen, UK, focused on epistemology and pedagogy and Karl Barth. He is author of Wouldn’t You Love to Know? Trinitarian Epistemology and Pedagogy. The son of New Zealand missionaries, he grew up in India. After being an architect in New Zealand, he studied MTh at SAIACS in the mid-1990s, accompanied by his wife and three daughters. He returned as faculty and has been Principal at SAIACS from 2008. From building church buildings, he has been drawn into the excitement of building the church. He hopes this present collection will enhance the educational adventure for many.

Lal Senanayake

LAL SENANAYAKE is the President of Lanka Bible College and Seminary. He is a graduate of Lanka Bible College, University of Nottingham, and Trinity International University (TIU). He earned his PhD in Educational Studies at TIU as a scholar of ScholarLeaders International. He has served at Lanka Bible College and Seminary for over twenty-five years in several capacities – from being a student to being the current president. Lal has many years of experience in pastoral care and counselling ministry. In addition to teaching at LBCS Lal has a passion for writing for the Majority World. This book has provided a great platform to speak to the context of theological education in the Majority World.

Karen Shaw

Karen Shaw lived in the Middle East from 1990–2019 and was Associate Professor of Cross-Cultural Ministry at the Arab Baptist Theological Seminary (ABTS) from 2008 2019. She also shepherded the International Community Church in Beirut, Lebanon. Karen and her husband now live in Sydney, Australia. She is the author of Wealth & Piety: Middle Eastern Perspectives for Expat Workers, as well as numerous articles, book chapters and presentations. She holds a doctorate in Cross-Cultural Ministry from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, and a masters from Princeton Theological Seminary. Karen enjoys poetry and nature photography.

Xiaoli Yang

XIAOLI YANG, PhD, has been serving in Australia and Asia as a lecturer, pastor, and mentor over the last twenty years. In her teaching at the University of Divinity in Australia and theological seminaries in Asia she adopts creative methodologies to build bridges between the secular and the sacred, the East and the West, theology and poetry. The embracing of the diverse approaches to theological studies in this volume affirms not only her unique voice as a Chinese migrant, poet, and theologian, but also the imaginative poetic epistemology in theological research.

Rafael Zaracho

RAFAEL ZARACHO (PhD in Theology, University of St Andrews) is a professor at Instituto Bíblico Asunción in Paraguay. He is part of the Anabaptist tradition in which knowing and following Jesus are crucial elements of the everyday life of being a disciple. His contribution to this book is part of his desire to create and promote discerning communal spaces. His invitation is to promote and create spaces for diverse and multiple models of teaching, learning, and final works. He is married to Rut and they have two children Sofía (nine) and Sebastian (four).

Grace al-Zoughbi

GRACE AL-ZOUGHBI is a Christian Palestinian from Bethlehem who serves as a lecturer in Biblical Studies at Bethlehem Bible College. She was an undergraduate student at the college and finished her MA at the London School of Theology in 2010. Her thesis sought to explore the ways in which women can seek to defend and promote personal dignity, particularly within strongly patriarchal contexts. Grace is currently working on her PhD through the South African Theological Seminary. In her day-to-day life, she participates in leading a variety of programs through her local church in Bethlehem and is also involved in various translation projects. Grace joined the staff of BBC in 2011, and she is currently the head of the Biblical Studies department.

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