Shaping the ‘Hidden’ Curriculum for Engaging Power, Poverty and Wealth in Africa: A Case Study from Scott Theological College, Kenya

20 Jul 2010

Editor’s Note: This Cape Town 2010 Advance Paper was written by Jacob Kibor, Gregg A. Okesson and Kimberly Okesson as an overview of the topic to be discussed at the related session at the Cape Town Congress “Wealth, Poverty and Power: Effectively Responding through the Global and Local Church.” Responses to this paper through the Lausanne Global Conversation were fed back to the authors and others to help shape their final presentations at the Congress.


‘If you want to destroy a pastor or missionary, send them to a theological school’. Sadly, we have heard people say such things. These kinds of statements operate on the assumption that academic institutions have nothing to do with everyday Gospel realities, while hard-working practitioners labour in the trenches of ‘real’ ministry. People sometimes refer to theological schools as ‘ivory towers,’ where they envision communities of students sitting around debating how many angels can dance on the head of a pin, or bantering back and forth about some philosophical debate in theology. We groan at these caricatures (aware that they may contain seeds of truth), and wonder aloud, ‘What are theological institutions doing to address the issues that matter most to people? And how are they going about the process of preparing ministerial leaders for the Church of Jesus Christ?’

This paper would like to take up such a project by looking at how one theological institution in Africa is developing its hidden (or implicit) curriculum for addressing the critical themes of power, poverty and wealth. We will begin by making an appeal for theology to take up the urgent issues that afflict modern societies, and so illustrate the relevance of the Gospel for all facets of life. Theology can occur through explicit discourse, or by paying attention to implicit matters (community, values, ethics, financial policies, and lifestyle decisions). Both are essential. For this paper, our focus will be upon the hidden curriculum of theological institutions as they relate to power, poverty and wealth.

Few topics are more important than those covered in this paper, in a world where every day 25,000 people die of hunger-related causes. An estimated 15 million children are orphaned from HIV/AIDS (roughly equal to the population of children in Great Britain), and countless others are deprived of essential rights (water, land, education, and medical assistance). The gap between rich and poor widens, and those in ‘power’ tend to perpetuate a system that leaves the majority feeling ‘powerless’. Despite the appearance of ‘development’ and ‘progress’ across the globe, more people go to bed hungry than at any other point in world history. These issues are particularly acute in Africa, where themes of power, poverty and wealth intertwine in ever changing ways to cast nuanced (and often appalling) shadows upon the continent. The second half of the paper will subsequently bring ‘thick description’ to the study, by illustrating how Scott Theological College, Kenya, is addressing issues of power, poverty and wealth.

Theological Institutions as agents of Gospel realities (some preliminary considerations)

Andrew Walls has written widely on theological development around the world, reminding people that the history of Christianity always results from ‘deep translation’ of God’s word within socio-cultural issues. (1)Theology never occurs in a vacuum. These points are particularly important in light of the southward movement of Christianity. Regions such as Latin America, Asia, and Africa abound with vibrant growth, and represent the new face of Christianity around the world. The global church, however, does not just passively imitate Western, theological discourse, but engages in new theological pathways through means of ‘deep translation’. Walls suggests that just as the third, fourth and fifth centuries blossomed with theological innovation,

We may see a great creative development of Christian theology [taking place in the global south]; [with] new discoveries about Christ that Christians everywhere can share; mature, discriminating standards of Christian living; people and groups responding to the Gospel at a deep level of understanding and personality; a long-term Christ-shaped imprint on the thinking of Africa and Asia; a new stage in the church’s growth towards the full stature of Christ. (2)

The future of Christianity, thus, rests upon the theological shoulders of the church in Latin America, Asia and Africa. The agenda for theology arises out of different contexts, and pertains to socio-economic issues. This does not imply that the Bible plays a subservient role, but rather that God’s Word always engages in vital, contextual issues through the Church of Jesus Christ. Wealth, poverty, and the power-relations that undergird (and often distort) the interplay between these two former concepts, stand central to the agenda of the global Church. Theology must engage in such matters for the church’s growth towards ‘the full stature of Christ.’

The Bible has much to say about the themes of power, poverty and wealth. Students studying theology must continually wrestle with contemporary application of God’s Word, especially as occurring in contexts of human suffering. God’s nature forms the starting point for theology (‘The LORD works righteousness and justice for all the oppressed’, Ps 103:6) (3) indicating that those who bear His image must likewise follow His example (‘He who oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God’, Prov 14:31). Jesus understood His mandate as central to these ends: ‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor … to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight to the blind, and to release the oppressed’ (Lk 4:18). And the early church followed His example (Acts 2:42-47).

Historically (especially from the late nineteenth century) evangelicals have shown certain levels of discomfort with such passages, perhaps fearful that it might put them in the camp of ‘liberation theology’, or associate them with ‘liberals’. But neglecting socio-economic issues reveals a truncated Gospel and can give inadvertent sanction to oppressive social systems. Gnana Robinson argues, ‘A wrong theology legitimizes the existing exploitative socio-economic order and domesticates the people to accept the same as given by God’. (4)Theology, therefore, cannot neglect socio-economic affairs. And theological institutions must help fulfill the Church’s mandate to care for the needy and rehabilitate networks of power.

These issues require a central place in ‘structured’ educational processes (course syllabi, readings, and assessment exercises), as well as in ‘hidden’ curricular matters. The majority of educational institutions place their focus upon the former (because of its visible nature); however, we want to argue that more effort should be given to shaping the ‘hidden’ curriculum as it relates to the issues of power, poverty, and wealth. The integrated cosmology of African societies demands an equally integrated training model. ‘Hidden’ curriculum relates to ‘organizational climate’, ‘symbolic aspects’ and/or ‘values that are transmitted literally from one generation of the organization to another’. (5) Here the emphasis is upon community matters, power-relationships, financial policies, ways of living theological truths (openly and visibly), making connections between theory and practice (integration), attitudes, motives, and values fundamental for shaping the ethics of theology: how God’s power should be manifested in humanity; how people should treat those who are vulnerable; and how the Kingdom of God transforms human societies.

In addition to cultural resources, the incarnation lays the framework for processes of ‘deep translation’ of Christ into the implicit curriculum of training institutions. Power, poverty, and wealth need to be nurtured within the lives of ‘image-bearers’ so as to bring God’s Word (literally, His character) to bear upon the areas that matter most to people in Africa. Western seminaries traditionally operate upon pre-established theological pathways, and with predisposition to see ‘theology’ occurring in classrooms, through assignments, and always in orbit around singular ‘professional’ theologians. We are not challenging the legitimacy of such, only questioning whether this represents the entire scope of where (and how) theology occurs. ‘Hidden’ curriculum pays attention to interconnections and subliminal meanings: theology as it is lived, within community, applied to real contextual situations, and buttressed by values and ethics related to God’s nature. Gospel truths relate to Gospel praxis. ‘Right’ knowledge requires ‘right’ relations. Healthy thinking depends upon integral actions. Spiritual and material domains interrelate (especially within contexts holding an integrated cosmology), enabling financial practices to function with theological intent. Thus, the task of ‘hidden’ curriculum is to make connection between God’s character and human transformation; or in the words of the Apostle Paul: ‘Watch your life and doctrine closely’ (1 Tim 4:16).

Poverty and Wealth: African Perspectives

Defining power, poverty and wealth on the continent proves an elusive task, and this section merely sketches some of the principle themes, with attention to some of the ways the concepts relate to each other. John Iliffe in his monumental study on the poor in Africa distinguishes between what he sees to be the majority, at times, of Africans who find themselves ‘struggling continuously to preserve themselves and their dependents from physical want’, and what he calls the ‘destitute’: ‘those who have temporarily or permanently failed in that struggle.’ (6) He rejects the notion that poverty began in Africa during the period of colonialism; however, Iliffe acknowledges that new forms of poverty have arisen in contemporary societies. (7) The ‘destitute’ are the landless, those who have fallen on misfortune, or been the victims of injustice. Historically, the poor have found means for escape through servitude to wealthy landowners, or, more commonly, from resources available from extended families. At least in one language, the word for ‘poor’ indicates ‘lack of kin and friends’. (8)

Conversely, the wealthy have always been the minority, and have maintained land, wives, cattle or other material properties as symbols of their affluence. Africans participate in the cosmos through an integrated framework, in which sacred and secular realities interrelate. This indicates that spiritual power proceeds from God to bless human communities (often viewed in terms of material realities). Thus, wealth carries connotations of spiritual power; (9)while poverty, conversely, says something about spiritual paucity, powerlessness, and/or intimates an association with curses. Rich and poor dwell together through unwritten rules of reciprocity, in which the wealthy sustain the destitute in exchange for vows of allegiance, debts of servitude, and/or through relationships of honour. Iliffe says, ‘Wealth in itself attracted honour, but doubly so if generously distributed’. (10) These kinds of relationships have historically symbolised African societies as patrimonial, where power resides in the hands of wealthy ‘patrons’ for promoting the greater good of the community.

With the rise of colonialism, many of these characteristics began to change. African societies experienced disconnect from some of the values that previously oriented the rich toward the poor. Communal responsibilities gave way to individual wealth accumulation and the rise of personal bank accounts. Urbanisation led people away from the land and in closer contact with the trappings of Western materialism.(11) Paul Gifford talks about how modern political processes have promoted a system of ‘clientelism and corruption’ where individual authorities (whether political or ecclesiastical) maintain ‘power’ as a means of advancing their own identity and wealth acquisition. (12)He describes this in terms of the ‘gatekeeper’ (or, neo-patrimonial) state, in which powerful patrons (or ‘big men’) promote dependency scenarios with the poor in order to accentuate their own status.

Economic growth is not the priority; controlling the limited channels for advancement is less risky than opening up broad channels which could permit an opposition to emerge. The ruling elite uses patronage, coercion, scapegoating of opponents and all the resources it commands to reinforce its position, narrowing the channels of access even further. (13)

The wealthy elite command power to gain more wealth, and the gap between the rich and poor widens. Material resources, when distributed, serve to increase dependency and tend to benefit only the rich (framed within inequitable power relations).

This brief overview reveals many dysfunctional characteristics. However, at the root of these problems is a theological valuation of ‘power’. Specifically, if power is ‘from God’ (affirmed within African cosmology) does it rest upon individual leaders or pertain to something intrinsic within the ‘image of God’ (open to all image-bearers)? What is the relation between power and wealth, and how should the Church of Jesus Christ handle these topics (and their correspondence) theologically? Furthermore, if power is given from God, what does this mean for the ethics of power? How does God use power? And what does this mean for those who bear His image? And finally, what role do theological schools contribute in opposing pernicious socio-cultural ‘forces’ that distort the goodness of God’s creation?

These issues demand a comprehensive and integrated theological response. Time does not permit us to enter into fuller examination of the themes posed by these questions (14) except to illustrate ways in which one theological institution on the continent is promoting the ethics of God’s nature within its ‘hidden’ curriculum. Cultural and theological resources flow together to provide signature expression to this case study.

Case Study: Scott Theological College, Kenya

Scott Theological College (STC) came into existence through the agency of the Africa Inland Mission (AIM) along with her daughter church, the Africa Inland Church (AIC), in order to prepare ministerial leaders for the Church of Africa. Following the school’s inception in 1964, it received accreditation by the Accrediting Council for Theological Education in Africa (1979), and subsequently a charter from the Kenyan Commission for Higher Education (CHE) as a private, Kenyan University (1997). (15)

Integration: The central purpose of Scott Theological College relates to an organic and integrated reading of the Christian faith, founded upon Ephesians 4:13. Thus, maturity (‘become mature’) forms the primary vision for ministerial preparation. In order to accomplish this, STC structures its curriculum upon (1) knowledge, (2) skills, and (3) character objectives. These three-dimensional foci undergird both structured and implicit curriculum. Knowledge, skills, and character permeate all facets of the institution, extending from formal class discussions to various types of mentorship relations, from on-campus interactions to off-site ministry participation. One of the central mechanisms for accomplishing such integration comes in the form of ‘Learning Contracts’.

Each semester, individual students are assigned ‘Learning Contracts’ in which they, along with a faculty mentor, covenant to work directly within a mentorship relationship. In these informal meetings, and through weekly journaling, students apply course content, readings, and other insights into a variety of socio-religious contexts. Students are divided into ministry teams, with direct oversight by a fourth year student, where the group, along with a faculty mentor, integrates classroom learning, character development, and ministry skills within church (and society) related settings. Gospel truths pertain to practical realities, within a wide range of ministry settings. Contexts for service may be as diverse as children’s work, rural pastorates, prison/hospital chaplaincy, urban congregations, or ministry amongst slum churches. Faculty mentors supervise all facets of structured and implicit curricula in order to promote the integration of knowledge, skills and character for the transformation of African communities.

Integration also occurs within other facets of the curriculum, whether applying course content to individual or context-related purposes, or by bringing ‘sacred’ and ‘secular’ currents together within the framework of ministerial training. Students study diverse subjects such as Education, Psychology, Philosophy, Development, Leadership, Management and Sociology (among others). Care is taken to weave theological insights into the wide tapestry of socio-economic matters. Christian transformation requires theology to engage in all aspects of human life. In order to accomplish this, emphasis is given to Scriptural and contextual ‘exegesis’ in order to facilitate faithful biblical hermeneutics. Course assessment exercises require students to ‘integrate’, ‘apply’ or ‘synthesize’ course material, with the aim of mature thought processes. Recently, faculty completed a three-year long exercise in which they re-wrote all course curricula to better (1) integrate and (2) apply material, within each unit, into the corpus of structured course work, and into rapidly changing, contemporary contexts.

Integration, we are arguing, represents a unique African heritage and one that offers great promise for the future of ministerial preparation on the continent, and positions theological institutions favourably for engaging in socio-economic issues.(16) This is to contend that issues of power, wealth and poverty cannot just sit as individual courses within the overall curricula (‘baptised’, as it were, on top of other theological coursework), but require active integration: intra-curricula (connecting the parts together), contextually (into actual social and ministry locations), and implicitly (through mentoring, modelling, financial policies, and service).

Mentorship: Faculty supervise ministry teams, which comprise an assortment of students (from different years of study) under the leadership of a fourth-year ‘mentor’. The Field Education department of the University places students in a wide variety of contexts, maintaining that diversity of exposure better equips pastors, teachers, missionaries and chaplains for the heterogeneity of phenomena that comprise modern African societies. Ideally, by the time he or she graduates each student would have participated within urban and rural pastorates (contending with distinct issues of urban and rural poverty), children and youth at-risk ministries (in high schools, orphanages, and working with street children), and through compassion ministries in prisons, hospitals and armed forces.

Field education provides the venue, or nexus, by which students (under faculty mentorship) integrate course content through creative application of theological truths. Students are encouraged to wrestle with complex socio-cultural realities in light of the Kingdom of God, and to address issues of development, mercy, justice and reconciliation within specific contexts. The incarnation of Jesus Christ informs the content and process which theology undertakes, making it imperative that students preparing for ministerial service ‘think’, ‘do’ or ‘apply’ theology within contexts of human suffering, injustice and unhealthy relations of power (and in relationship with people living in these situations). (17) Faculty mentors guide students through these issues, sensitive to facilitating learning outcomes through appropriate conditions of discomfort. The goal of maturity, therefore, extends beyond propositional biblical knowledge and relates to skilful and liveable application of Scriptural/theological truths within human communities, and purposed for transformation in Christ. In contexts such as we find in Africa (and doubtless other parts of the world) poverty does not crop up as some isolated, specialised and situationally-located phenomena, but extends web-like through all aspects of the socio-cultural landscape, necessitating an integrated and incarnational response.

A further element of mentorship involves inculcating ethics into how church-related leaders relate to those who find themselves within insufferable conditions of poverty, famine and HIV-AIDS, and/or who live destitute. Theological institutions must do more than just teach students that the Kingdom of God belongs to these, but must actively promote the ethics of Jesus’ power for the care of widows, orphans or the destitute. The task of instilling ethics into the lives of church leaders, we contend, is often better ‘caught’ than ‘taught’: further highlighting the importance of mentorship within ministry situations. ‘Maturity’ in Christ, therefore, demands that spiritual power be nurtured into the lives of ‘image-bearers’ so that they can better minister to the poor and needy with the ethics of God’s nature.

Modelling: Another component of STC’s implicit curricula relates to living Kingdom ethics within a broad, diverse community of believers. Modelling takes place as students, faculty, administration, and families ‘open’ themselves to others, and occurs in any number of directions: faculty to students, students to faculty, families to administration, and so forth. ‘Openness’ remains a cardinal value of the Kingdom of God, illustrated through the incarnation of Jesus Christ. (18)Students come to STC from nearly ten different African countries, while others join from North American and European backgrounds. Human diversity facilitates communal growth. People are ‘exposed to the power of others’, (19)and use these ‘powers’ for corporate expression of the image of Christ.

Scott Theological College operates as a residential school in which all students and faculty reside on campus. In 2004, the Kenyan Commission for Higher Education (CHE) visited the institution for the purposes of assessing recertification of the governmental Charter. One recommendation made was that faculty houses – existing in the epicentre of the campus – should be demolished to allow for the construction of classrooms (under the conjecture that classrooms form the nucleus of University education). The administration resisted, and argued persuasively that according to the philosophy of the University, faculty homes serve as the confluence of educational commitments – specifically, by providing important venues where mentorship, home Bible Studies, and modelling take place. Faculty and students interact together in a wide variety of contexts, and seek to rehabilitate abusive networks of power by revealing their humanity toward each other: through laughter, games, building healthy relationships, and appropriate measures of transparency.(20) This, we maintain, remains congruous with African commitments for holistic, community-based learning. (21)

A final component of modelling relates to lifestyle decisions. If theological institutions are going to prepare students for faithful ministry amongst the poor, they must train them within similar contexts. Scott Theological College addresses these elements through lifestyle modesty. The campus exists in the midst of a semi-rural setting. Faculty and students model habits of financial stewardship, and all facilities are functional and unpretentious. National faculty are frequently enticed by other institutions offering higher salaries packages and benefits. Those who remain do so with great sacrifice. (22) Financial practices model Kingdom ethics, but not at the expense of justifying irresponsible behaviour in terms of faculty salaries, or by communicating a Gnostic attitude toward material possessions. In a similar vein, Andrew Walls calls theological institutions in Africa to function like Indian, monastic ashrams, where communities of scholars ‘live a simple common life of study and meditation’. (23)‘Living simply’ helps prepare students and faculty alike for ministry amongst the poor and rehabilitates conceptions of wealth to better relate with modesty and simplicity (as opposed to extravagance or deficiency). Local sustainability of finances (covered in the next section below) helps model good stewardship practices. This is important, since ‘The context of the poor calls for a new life style both in our personal life and in the structure of our theology institutions, so that our words and actions may go together and carry some credibility’.(24) These issues, we are arguing, can only be nurtured within an institution’s ‘hidden’ curriculum.

Financial Sustainability: Another way Scott Theological College addresses these issues (and directly related to what we discussed above) is through efforts by the administration to develop income-generating projects and promote locally-sponsored finances for the sustainable growth of the institution. At present, over 70% of all the College’s operating expenses come from within the continent, underscoring the local ownership of the University. This is in marked contrast to other institutions where the majority of finances come from the West. Finances need to be treated as theological subject matter (especially when viewed in an integrated cosmology) and given a central position within the implicit curriculum of ministerial training. When schools receive most of their finances outside of Africa, they run the risk of promoting dependency scenarios with the West that perpetuate subtle (yet intelligible) messages that America (or Europe) is wealthy (meaning, ‘powerful’) and Africa is ‘poor’ (meaning, ‘powerless’). These assumptions carry dehumanising predispositions. Scott Theological College resists these hazards, but with awareness that sustainability does not mean self-sufficiency within the Kingdom of God. Western funds, if used wisely, can supplement local funding (but with acknowledgement that the onus of responsibility falls upon the administration to cultivate sustainable programmes of growth). Financial responsibility directly relates to theological method!

One of the benefits derived from sustainability relates to how theological institutions model healthy paradigms of ethical responsibility to their students. God has blessed our communities with land, resources, human creativity, hard work and relationships. Etymologically, ‘wealth’ means ‘well-being’ (contrary to contemporary readings which make it indistinguishable from financial surplus). (25) Scott Theological College seeks to incorporate these matters into its ‘hidden’ curriculum through its fiscal policies. Modelling pertains to spiritual and material points of interest. Local stakeholders lay claim to financial and psychological ownership for the institution. Churches invest in its mission and support their students. Income generating projects humanize theological institutions, reinforcing healthy (although not exclusivistic) paradigms for combating psychological (and material) perceptions of poverty. Thus, Scott Theological College works closely with local congregations, develops continent-wide partnerships, and experiments (with varying degrees of success) in income-generating projects such as book distribution, computer training packages, rental of facilities, and more recently, agricultural development and animal husbandry.

The University occupies 52 acres in a semi-arid region of Machakos. Approximately twenty acres function for faculty housing, dormitories, classrooms, library facilities, and chapel, while the other thirty acres are used for agricultural development. At present, faculty, staff, and students maintain tracts of land (shamba), and the University brings in experts to teach alternative techniques such as no-till farming. The College operates banana and papaya plantations and two fish farms, and has five milk cows, by which the entire community receives its daily dairy allotment. Plans are underway to expand these enterprises into poultry and pig raising, as well as reforestation through the reintroduction of indigenous trees. Not only does the entire community benefit materially from these efforts, but these projects serve as informal training centres for pastors, teachers, missionaries and chaplains, who, in an integrative cosmology, guide ecclesiastical communities toward spiritual and material ends. The goal is not some artificial sense of self-sufficiency, but healthy paradigms of responsibility, modelling and community transformation.

Service: A final component of the implicit curriculum of STC relates to themes (and praxis) of service that undergird all facets of the institution. Students practice spiritual disciplines of ‘service’ within ‘Learning Contracts’, while faculty and students alike participate in weekly field-education ministries, mentoring, and/or working together on community-related projects. Service helps inculcate kingdom ethics into the outworking of spiritual power, and positions church-related leaders for the growth of their communities.

One notable venue for institutional service is through the church-related ministry arm of Scott Theological College, called the Institute for Church Renewal (ICR). Through this department, the University hosts regular seminars for pastors, church leaders and community members throughout the country. After the post-election violence of 2008, the ICR sponsored ‘Reconciliation Seminars’ for bringing church leaders together for forgiveness and healing. The Institute regularly hosts a wide assortment of one-day conferences on a variety of themes. Some of the recent seminars have included leadership development, parenting for youth-at-risk, HIV/AIDs, biblical preaching and sustainable agricultural development. The College earns no income for these events, but serves the larger community through these ministries.

In addition to campus-wide events, individual faculty members have their own service projects. One lecturer works with rural communities in developing fish projects, horticulture, energy-saving ovens, solar ovens or mushroom farming, while helping urban congregations develop their retired population as ‘Trainers of Trainers’. Another faculty member has started a ministry that places orphans in the homes of local church members. Teachers and students alike have adopted orphans into their families, while a group of students has recently begun a project to help widows by teaching them how to tie-dye clothes, make organic detergents, dehydrate vegetables and preserve fruits.

These disciplines of service, we contend, especially as they occur in informal and self-motivated ways, create a ‘culture of service’ that helps orient God’s power for the growth of human communities. Students, staff, and faculty alike participate in formal and informal efforts aimed at extending the love of Jesus Christ to people throughout the region. God’s power nurtures human growth.


This paper has sought to give expression to the implicit curriculum of one theological institution on the continent as it relates to ethical issues associated with God’s power. Admittedly, as an institution we do not always achieve the kinds of idealistic intentions envisioned above. As fallible, sinful humans, we are painfully aware of our own deficiencies related toward living God’s power for others, and especially pertaining towards promoting human growth in the face of societal injustices. Nevertheless, we believe that God is rewarding our efforts, and particularly so as we observe our graduates leaving the institution with knowledge, skills and character essential for actively confronting societal evil, correcting injustices and nurturing God’s goodness within broken human fibres. These prophetic energies, we contend, need continual stoking in the furnace of theological education. The Gospel relates to all of life, and thus we need ‘a spirituality which is essentially human, sufficiently material and strongly Christ-centred … [that is] always open towards the world of the poor’. (26)

While we believe that theological institutions must continually assess their ‘structured’ curriculum in terms of issues of power, poverty, and wealth, this paper has sought to show that ‘hidden’ curricular matters are equally important, especially as related to the ethics of God’s nature. If humans are the ‘image of God’, that means we must ‘image’ God in conformity to the image of Christ. This directly says something about how humans appropriate God’s power in the world. Church-related leaders must be taught to handle God’s power with great care, and where such explicit lessons are nurtured by implicit processes of integration, mentoring, modelling, financial sustainability and service (among others). Undoubtedly, other institutions across the globe could supplement the case study presented here with colourful examples of how a variety of theological institutions are addressing the key issues of poverty and wealth. (27) Diversity of perspectives creates a ‘hermeneutic community’ (28) in which God’s people, together, more accurately image God for the growth of their communities, and draw upon their collective theological energies for addressing the dire injustices that afflict modern societies.


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© The Lausanne Movement 2010

  1. Andrew Walls, ‘Christian Scholarship in Africa in the Twenty-First Century’, Transformation 19:4 (2002), p. 217-228: p. 220.
  2. Ibid. p. 221.
  3. All scripture passages are taken from the New International Version (NIV).
  4. Gnana Robinson, ‘Challenge to Theological Education in the Context of the Poor and Development’, in Gnana Robinson, Henry Wilson, and Christopher Duraisingh (eds.) Theological Education and Development (Bangalore: The Association of Theological Teachers in India, 1984), pp. 1-24: p. 17.
  5. David J. Wren, ‘School Culture: Exploring the Hidden Curriculum’ Adolescence 34:135 (Fall 1999), pp. 593-596: p. 593.
  6. John Iliffe, The African Poor: a history (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987), p. 2f.
  7. Ibid. p. 3f.
  8. Ibid. p. 7.
  9. African forms of the ‘Prosperity Gospel’ build upon these notions and interconnections.
  10. John Iliffe, Honour in African History (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005), p. 334.
  11. This is not to assume that colonial governance was singularly oppressive; or similarly, that pre-colonial societies were entirely devoid of corrupting influences. We merely want to highlight some of the shifts that have occurred from pre-colonial to modern societies, albeit at the risk of framing the movement in overly simplistic categories.  For more information on these changes, see Aylward Shorter and Edward Onyancha, Secularism in Africa: A Case Study: Nairobi City (Nairobi: Paulines Publications, 1997).
  12. ‘Power’, identity, and wealth intermix within contemporary political processes; some of these elements likewise pertain to church-related contexts; see Gregg A. Okesson, ‘Are Pastors Human? Sociological and Theological Reflections on Ministerial Identity on Contemporary Africa,’ AJET, 27:2 (2008), pp. 19-39.
  13. Paul Gifford, Christianity, Politics and Public Life in Kenya (London: Hurst & Company, 2009), pp. 1-32: p. 9; see also African Christianity: Its Public Role (London: Hurst & Company, 1998), pp. 1-20.
  14. For a brief introduction to some of the issues related to a ‘theology of power’ within African theology, see Laurenti Magesa, ‘“Power” in African Religion’. In Gerald J. Wanjohi and G. Wakuraya Wanjohi (eds.), Social and Religious Concerns of East Africa(Nairobi: Wajibu: A Journal of Social and Religious Concerns, 2005), pp. 313-317; and Gregg A. Okesson, ‘The Image of God in Leadership: A Contextual Exploration in Theology of Leadership’, Africa Journal of Evangelical Theology 23.1 (2004), pp. 21-46.
  15. The University offers diploma, degree, and Masters-level courses, designed to train leaders for the Church of Africa.
  16. For more on this perspective, see Gregg A. Okesson, ‘Sacred and Secular Currents for Theological Education in Africa’, in Africa Journal of Evangelical Theology 26:1 (2007), pp. 39-64.
  17. Theology is always happening at ‘grassroots’ levels; students of theology must learn to listen, learn and promote theological development as it is happening in the streets, fields or churches.
  18. Mirolsav Volf, Exclusion and Embrace: A Theological Exploration of Identity, Otherness, and Reconciliation (Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press, 1996).
  19. Ibid. p. 164.
  20. Without undermining the important values of ‘honour’ and ‘respect’ which are so important to African societies.
  21. Like other Institutions, STC has recently begun two satellite campuses to cater for church leaders who cannot leave their ministries to undertake full-time, residential course work. We have likewise launched an MA in Education that utilises distance-based methods for programmic delivery. These changes acknowledge the need for flexibility and adaptability amidst constantly morphing socio-educational contexts.
  22. This is a sensitive issue and one that should not be taken lightly. ‘Living simply’, as stated above, should not condone negligence in the areas of salaries. We merely want to highlight that it needs to be an element within a school’s ‘implicit’ curriculum, and predicated upon wise financial stewardship. Each school must address these issues in its own way, rather than blindly following cues from like-minded Western schools (or Western donor agencies) which operate in very different socio-economic contexts.
  23. Andrew Walls, ‘Of Ivory Towers and Ashrams: some reflections on theological scholarship in Africa’, Journal of African Christian Thought 3:1 (June 2000), pp1-4: p. 4; see also see Kraig Klaudt, ‘The Ashram as a Model for Theological Education’, Theological Education 34:1 (Autumn 1997), pp. 25-40.
  24. Robinson, ‘Challenge to Theological Education’, p. 20.
  25. The word ‘wealth’ has etymological roots in ‘well-being’, thus showing that wealth is for humans, and humans for wealth. See Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd edition. Vol XX, presented by J.A. Simpson and E.S.C. Weiner (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1989), pp. 41-2.
  26. Robinson, ‘Challenge to Theological Education’, p. 20.
  27. One theological institution in Kenya stands out by requiring all divinity students to study agricultural and community development for an intensive period of four months prior to graduation (East Africa Integrated University, in Mitaboni).
  28. See Paul Hiebert, ‘Critical Contextualization’, Missiology 12:3 (July 1984), pp. 288-96; and Anthropological Reflections on Missiological Issues (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1994), pp. 75-92.