Lecturers urge students to go deeper in Contextualization and Theology
To develop a creative, historical, critical, open, and indiscriminate theology was the challenge conveyed to the doctoral students who attended the ATU Methodology Seminar held on June 29 – July 13, 2015 at the Lutheran Theological Seminary, Hong Kong.
The seminar was a two-week intensive study of the Guidelines for Doing Theologies in Asia as a framework for the ATU doctoral study program. It was designed to instill upon the student the importance of contextualization and the value of networking. It also provided an opportunity for the students to share the output of their study in the colloquia. This was done regionally but organized centrally by the ATU dean.
Each of the following invited lecturers led a one-day lecture-workshop:
- Dr. Kwok Pui Lan, Professor of Christian Theology and Spirituality, Episcopal Divinity School, Cambridge, Massachusetts, delivered two presentations. The first session focused on the challenges and requirements of writing a good doctoral research. In the afternoon she discussed the major issues and prospects of “Asian Women’s Theology.”
- Dr. Eleazar Fernandez, President and Professor of Theology, Union Theological Seminary, Dasmarinas, Cavite, Philippines, led the lecture-workshop on Constructive Theology during the second day of the seminar.
- Dr. Philip Chia, Associate Prof. of Prophetic Literature, Biblical Theology at Divinity School, Chung Chi College, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Shatin, N.T. Hong Kong, introduced the post colonial approach of biblical interpretation especially in the Old Testament.
- Dr. Septemmy Lakawa, Director, Postgraduate Program and Lecturer, Jakarta Theological Seminary, Indonesia, spoke on Mission in a Multi-Religious Environment.
- Dr. Lester Edwin Ruiz, Professor of Theology and Ethics and Senior Director, Accreditation and Institutional Evaluation Commission, Association of Theological Schools in the US and Canada, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, presented a series of lectures on the following topics: Critical Interpretation and Social Locations (Positionality, Solidarity, Intersectionality), Critical Interpretation and Method, and Critical Interpretation and Practice. He also addressed the challenge of hermeneutics or critical interpretation exploring the “multi-stranded, trans-disciplinary, multifaith and interreligious contexts” as sources.
The participants expressed their satisfaction with regards to the usefulness of the topics; the exchange of information, knowledge and experiences; and the presentation and new learning gained from speakers.
Faced with their personal struggles in their dissertation writing, they learned from the advices of speakers. The interchange of ideas among the students further enhanced their learning experience. Consequently, the participants expressed that more bonding time with the lecturers, faculty and students of the host school could be an addition to their theological exposure.
All the lecturers were regarded by the participants as remarkable in their presentations, having imparted new insights that provoke critical analysis of their theological methodologies. They greatly appreciate being mentored by experts from different fields of theology which prompted them to go beyond the boundaries of their customary modes of rational thinking. With such notable scholastic engagements, the participants look forward to the next methodology seminar. This is the third round of the Methodology Seminar on the Guidelines for Doing Theologies of Asia.
After the said lecture-workshops, a three-day colloquium ensued. Dr. Ruiz facilitated the discussions and critique of the research proposals of the students. Each student was allotted 45 minutes to present his/her papers with two other students serving as respondents. This scholarly exercise aimed to motivate students to develop critical thinking and also improve on their writing.