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This is a great quote from C.T. Studd about Bible college training… or not…

“The best training for a soldier of Christ is not merely a theological college. They always seem to turn out sausages of varying lengths, tied at each end, without the glorious freedom a Christian ought to abound and rejoice in. You see, when in hand-to-hand conflict with the world and the devil, neat little biblical confectionery is like shooting lions with a pea-shooter: one needs a man who will let himself go and deliver blows right and left as hard as he can hit, trusting in the Holy Ghost. It’s experience, not preaching that hurts the devil and confounds the world. The training is not that of the schools but of the market: it’s the hot, free heart and not the balanced head that knocks the devil out. Nothing but forked-lightning Christians will count. A lost reputation is the best degree for Christ’s service. It is not so much the degree of arts that is needed, but that of hearts, loyal and true, that love not their lives to the death: large and loving hearts which seek to save the lost multitudes, rather than guard the ninety-nine well-fed sheep in the British pen.”

If you want training that isn’t ‘merely a theological college’ then check out the Northern Training Institute. I’ve done a theology degree and I’ve done NTI – and NTI is far better than a hundred pieces of paper from a university…


I wrote this paper for a recent Northern Training Institute Seminar Day. My original conclusion is included in a footnote. As we discussed the issue a different conclusion came out and so I’ve tried to rewrite it accordingly. Any suggestions or thoughts, especially from those in the context I’m writing about, please make them!


Evaluate the significance of Paul Hiebert’s understanding of the ‘excluded middle’.


This issue is of particular interest to me coming to a context in South Africa where animism or ‘traditional religion’ (a more neutral term favoured by some[1]) is very much part of the culture among the indigenous peoples. In recent years there has been a massive increase, especially in sub-Saharan Africa of converts to Christianity. John Mbiti writes: “In 1900 there were an estimated 9 million Christians (accounting for about 7 per cent of the population of Africa). This number has since grown rapidly, to the point that in 1980 there are estimated to be 200 million Christians (or about 45 per cent of the population).”[2]  By the year 2000 one statistic that was given was that there were 380 million Christians in Africa.

However with this massive growth have come questions about the interrelation between traditional African religion and Christianity. John Mbiti has written extensively on the subject and is a great advocate for the commonality between African religion and Christianity. The problem has come because many people have taken Jesus as Lord, but still visit the witch doctor for protection. As Bryant Myers notes: “People try to live as Christians in their spiritual life and be like good moderns in their material life, while still being bound to their animism. This explains the actions of some Christians who go to their doctor for medical advice, ask the church to pray for healing, and visit the shaman at night.”

What has gone wrong with the preaching of the gospel in these contexts that has resulted in such a seemingly compartmentalised life? Paul Hiebert, followed by Bruce Bradshaw and Byrant Myers argue that the problem has resulted in not understanding the worldview and context of the people the gospel has been taken to, and thus not addressing every area that needs addressing.

According to them there is a blind spot that Westerners have to a very significant area of life for many people in the world (not just in Africa). The result is that of the ‘excluded middle’. Read the rest of this entry »

If you want to know a little more about what the ‘Northern Training Institute’ is about, check out the new NTI Papers. They started in April, so there are now 3 of them – well worth checking out.


The first one is a tidy and more academic version of some of my early blogs on ‘what is the church’.

The 2nd and 3rd are by Chris ‘Del’ Delahoyde and Jonny Woodrow on ‘The end of Christendom and mission in the local church’ and ‘The book of Leviticus and the doctrine of atonement’.




Michael Tinker is a professional musician and part of the Crowded House which is a church planting initiative in Sheffield and around the world. He's a follower of Jesus, Husband, Father, member of a Gospel Community, Musician and avid follower of fashion...

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