the Role of Scholars and Theological Librarians in Asian Theological Formation

4th ForATL Consultation & Workshop 2006

Keynote Address:
Emerging Tasks of Theological Education and the Role of Scholars and Theological Librarians
in Asian Theological Formation

Michael Poon

1. Impact of nation-building and globalization on theological education in Asia
Critical Asian Principle (CAP)
Understanding the roots of the present situation
Churches and nations together did not only need to contend with a missionary and colonial past. More urgently, they had to grapple with a more formidable issue, the formation of independent nation-states and churches within short spans of time.

- Nation-building processes result in destruction of traditional ethnic identities. New social identities are constructed along the newly configured political divides.
- The wide use of electronic means of communication destroys this unity, and re-defines our understanding of reality, leading to a new form of religious literalism.
- Governments incorporate religious groups within nation building processes, making religion more formalized, expressed mainly as institutions and orthodoxies.
Present church growth and evangelization tactics aggravate this problem
The issue today is not simply whether theological education should become more ‘Asian’; churches are asking whether we need theological education at all.

2. Consequences for theological education: which Christianity? what identity?
The varied contexts that have survived the missionary past are bulldozed during the engineering processes in the past sixty years.

Theological students come to seminaries with a fundamental problem in their understanding of reality. They see what is real as something that is purely intellectual and text based that can read off intuitively and arbitrarily reorganized.

Theological formation need to help churches understand their Christian roots.
Particularly theological education needs to help Christians to discover their local Christian heritage.

3. Common efforts in strengthening churches in Asia today
The unique opportunity for seminary teachers and librarians to work together to counter the impact of nation-building
- Documentation and historical research
- Creating fresh interpretation and bibliographies
- Recovering the servant role of scholars and librarians for the local churches

Contact Persons *

Mrs. Elizabeth T. Pulanco, Convenor, email:
Mr. Yesan Sellan, Secretary,,

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