A New Postgraduate Module on Ethics in Missions

This is happening in two weeks’ time. My journey to ethics in mission begins with mission studies, which lead me to political theology, and finally to ethics. This is where the wisdom of practical theology lies. Depending on the level and the preparedness of the students, we may be able to spend some time discussing the long lost interest in virtue ethics and the ethical deficiencies in the liberal West – which missionaries have uncritically brought to the majority world!

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War in Ukraine – An Example of Practical Theology!

Just as I concluded a talk on practical theology, I came across an example of how practical theology is at work through a sharing by an Old Testament expert, Dr. Anthony Loke.

His sharing is here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f9FlBHmCb8A

To give a Christian response to war, his approach is similar to what I shared in my recent talk. First he sets out the context – in reading the Bible, we come across violence and war so we wonder how we should make sense of those texts? He then leads his listeners through the biblical teaching about war, and presents the different perspectives expressed in the Old and New Testament. After that, an account of various theological thoughts on war by Christians throughout the ages is presented. Finally, he highlights the various difficulties we would face if we try to apply some of these biblical and theological ideas in today’s situation, since we are living in a very different world today. So there you go – a very good example of doing practical theology by a biblical scholar, who studies history, theology, tradition, and the context. I find his sharing helpful. He leaves me with a clear framework which allows me to further my theologizing. To me, his practical theology is very “useful!”

By the way, one of the themes which keeps recurring – though not explicitly in Dr. Loke’s sharing – is the pivotal role of ethics in our theological deliberations. Ethics forms a part of my model for practical theology. One participant who stayed back after the talk actually raised an issue which needs to be resolved through a practical theology which has a clear ethical position. I explained that often, when we face an ethical decision, it is more than just deciding what is right or wrong. The technical terms that describe the situation are “utilitarian or deontological.” Namely, we need to have some ideas which type of ethical system we are applying and whether they are justifiable in that particular situation.

So if you were in my recent talk, do check out Dr. Loke’s sharing to see another case study.

Thanks for joining!

The talk on the case of Practical Theology took place last Friday, with 100 registered (limit) and 82 participants turned up. The talk begins at 8:05pm and ended at 9:05pm. After a brief Question and Answer session, a few of the participants stayed back for further interactions for another 10-15 minutes.

I may consider repeating this talk for the second time if there is still interest or demand. That will give me a chance to improve the talk or even use another case to illustrate how theology should be done to respond to an actual, concrete situation. Maybe some of the participants from the first meeting can join me in the talk? The second round will also cater for those who registered but for some reasons missed the first round.

I find speaking in layperson language challenging. I may have also made unwise assumptions about what the audience may or may not know. I will let the participants tell me more about that. An email will be sent out to all participants to ask for their feedbacks.

The next scheduled talk will be quite different. I will be explaining incarnational mission. The target audience this time will be those who have at least completed a first degree in theology. But all are welcome. I will post more details about that talk in the coming days.

Recommended Writing Tools for Thesis/Dissertation

I have been using Microsoft Word as my standard essay and dissertation writing tool. Recently I came across Scrivener, a writing tool for Mac OS and Windows which also includes many project management functions. It enables me to drag and drop sections of my writings whenever I need to reorganise the structure. It also allows links within the application which connect me to articles or resources which I refer to. The best about Scrivener to me is the way it allows me to focus on a section of a long writing, while enabling me to jump from section to section with ease. With that I am able to focus on a section of my writing without losing sight of the big picture.
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