08 Mar Discipling Different Disciplines
Bringing a Biblical World View to our Study Disciplines
In December 2005, a small group of graduates in Delhi met together at the initiative of Mr. Mathew Varghese (then General Secretary, UESI) as an informal forum to reflect upon contemporary issues and concerns and work towards some practical responses to address those. The key matter for discussion was the question – “how do we actively relate our faith to all areas of our lives”?
He gave a brief background on the initiatives which were taken within UESI to address this issue, starting with a joint UESI-EFICOR consultation in Trichur some years ago. It had led to the setting up of a research group and defining a broad approach to addressing social concerns, within the context of UESI ministry.
Discussions on various contemporary cultural, social and economic concerns have been taking place within NEGF, Study Centre and UESI Training department(s) and the need for a holistic mission approach has now largely been accepted. However there are still apprehensions in the minds of some people about the term – ‘holistic’, since may perceive this as being “social” in character and without spiritual focus. In the past when various concerns have been raised on other issues the same have been addressed by setting up separate department(s) to deal with these issues displaying a compartmentalized thinking.
A new approach
Formulation of an integral approach to the issue with the objective of (a) preparing students for their lives ahead (in totality); and (b) educating graduates about the relevance of their own professions in the context of ministry has been felt as a pressing need in the UESI, increasingly with time. It was suggested that we could perhaps constitute an informal “think-tank”, which could reflect upon these issues and develop feasible plans and research based tools and resources to help and prepare the constituency as well as interested persons outside it.
Some of the issues, which were identified as being of concern, were:
1. Connecting our faith with contemporary societal concerns.
2. Connecting Biblical truths to our learning in different fields.
3. Application of theology to all spheres of life.
It was suggested that some of the group members could develop frameworks for study of their respective disciplines. In the meantime the group could also identify experts in different disciplines who could then be invited for a consultation/ workshop in which the approach to “discipling different disciplines” in line with Biblical truths would be shared and discussed. These could then lead to the development of resources for the UESI, church and the public at large. In addition, Christian responses to various contemporary international and national issues could also be developed, which could serve as approaches to advocacy on these issues and perhaps make impact on policy formulation at various levels.
In this regard it was mentioned that though the Christian contribution in the field of health and education is celebrated much, the impact that Christians have made on major policy formulations in these fields is negligible. Whether it in legalising abortions or the current threatening scenario of a declining female male sex ratio, Christians do not seem to have had any significant influence.
After the Golden Jubilee of UESI, UESI published “Golden Opportunities: Resolutions and recommendations of Golden Jubilee Conference” where the following observations were stated as some of the key learnings of the constituency.
1. On an average, there has NOT been the desired level of quality in our EU students, Graduates and Staff (as thinking, learning, passionate and proactive visionaries);
2. As an evangelical movement, UESI has been negligent in addressing the social issues and concerns that are very much part of the gospel, the practice of which would definitely liberate and transform the society.
The above observations further emphasize the need to bring about the focus on ‘Biblical holism’ and an “integral” view of life right at the core of our understanding God’s mission.
The way forward would involve a concerted effort to integrate and relate the following:
1. Theory and Praxis -The need to apply our faith in our daily affairs of life in our homes, campuses, work places and the community.
2. Word and the World- To connect the truths revealed in the Bible to the issues around in our society.
It is, therefore, very important for us to apply this principle of “viewing all of life from God’s perspective” into our disciplines of study as well. As a ministry, which primarily caters to the student community, we must take the lead in providing such reflection processes for students and teachers who are the key members of our constituency.
In practical terms it would mean that a student of sociology is equipped with the vision and tools to study social theories, social institutions and social change from the perspective of truths revealed in the Bible. A student would thus not see his subject in separation from his faith but try to apply the knowledge of God’s truth in understanding his discipline in order to contribute positively to needed changes in society through his discipline of study.
Framework for reflection
1. General Scope of the subject – what are the core areas of study/ key matters in this subject?
2. Biblical Insights/ Framework/ Foundations- What specific insights does the Bible provide to my particular study discipline
a) Creation – What would be the original intention or the primary motive for my particular discipline from the perspective of the Creator who is the source of all knowledge? Looking for God’s perspective on the subject, which we can be derived from the study of His revealed word.
b) Fall – What are the distortions or falsehoods, which have become part of my discipline as a consequence of the Fall? What are the developments which are leading to a negative impact on society? What are the burning issues which merit our attention?
c) Redemption – How can my discipline be reconciled to the purposes of God and serve His kingdom? What could be a possible vision statement for my discipline that reflects the purposes of God? What solutions can we offer to the burning issues? What is the redemptive understanding of my chosen discipline?
The Author is the CEO of SALT Initiatives who lives with his wife and two Sons, Delhi EGF