Well, for the 4 Guys, the name Timothy Tennent isn’t new; however, I wanted to write a quick intro to Dr. T because I just received his new book Invitation to World Missions: A Trinitarian Missiology for the Twenty-first Century in the mail and have decided to blog through the book. This will be less of a review and more of a report, focusing on the content of Tennent’s missiology.
I got to spend a decent amount of time with Tennent at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. I took 4 or 5 classes with him and had lunch with him, one on one, once a week during my last 2 years on campus, not including obviously the 2 sabbaticals that he had during that time. At the time, I begrudged him that time away because it meant that I got less time with him, but during those breaks he wrote the book just mentioned and another: Theology in the Context of World Christianity:How the Global Church Is Influencing the Way We Think about and Discuss Theology. I’m now glad that he got that time away because I can have him with me even overseas…or at least his distilled, foundational thoughts on missiology.
He is now president of Asbury Theological Seminary, and here is the short bio on their website:
Dr. Tennent comes to Asbury from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in South Hamilton, Massachusetts, where he served 11 years as professor of world missions and Indian studies. Prior to his work at Gordon-Conwell, Dr. Tennent taught missions at Toccoa Falls College in Georgia, where he was honored as teacher of the year in 1995. He also teaches annually at the Luther W. New Jr. Theological College of Dehra Dun, India, where he has served as an adjunct professor since 1989. He has also ministered and taught in China, Thailand, Nigeria and Eastern Europe. Ordained in the United Methodist Church, he has pastored churches in Georgia, and preached regularly in churches throughout New England and across the country. Dr. Tennent is the author of several books, including “Building Christianity on Indian Foundations,” (ISPCK, 2000); “Christianity at the Religious Roundtable,” (Baker Academic, 2002); and “Theology in the Context of World Christianity: How the Global Church is Influencing the Way We Think About and Discuss Theology,” (Zondervan, 2007). He is the co-author of “Revitalizing Practice,” which is about challenges to theological education in North America (Peter Lang, 2008). Dr. Tennent is also the author of a missiology textbook entitled “Invitation to World Missions: A Missiology for the 21st Century,” which will be published in 2010. Dr. Tennent’s wife Julie (Myers) is an accomplished organist. She graduated from Gordon-Conwell with the M.E.M. degree in 1984 and has a BMus in organ from Westminster College. They have two children, Jonathan, and Bethany.
Education: Dr. Tennent received his M.Div. in 1984 from Gordon-Conwell; the Th.M. in ecumenics, with a focus on Islam from Princeton Theological Seminary; and did graduate work in linguistics (TESL) at the University of Georgia. He completed his Ph.D. in non-western Christianity with a focus on Hinduism and Indian Christianity in 1998 at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland. He is also one of four graduates from a new leadership development program. The mentor project in academic leadership was developed and supported by the Lexington Seminar (a Lily endowment).
The more time I’ve spent with Dr T. in person, through his writings, and his lectures, I have come to believe that he really is today’s leading missiologist. Knowing him, I should probably confess that there are thousands of missiologists in the Majority World Church that I have not read and may not ever read due to the lack of publishing resources for Christian works by non-Western writers. And others might want to put forward others, but as an evangelical focused on reaching the unreached, training believers to sound forth the gospel in the midst of a pluralistic society, and seeing the Church in all her historic and ethnic diversity, glory, and warts, I think there’s no one better. Am I partial…probably!
Here is Tennent’s blog
Here you can listen to a couple of courses taught by Tennent.
Here is Asbury Theological Seminary’s chapel page. Tennent is a powerful preacher. He preaches at their chapel service about once every 3 weeks it seems. He’s in Mark right now.
I share all of this as simply an intro to a series of posts I hope to write through his new book, as I mentioned. I am already certain (only 50 pages in, about 10% of the book) that not only missionaries, mission agencies, and missiologists, but Bible School and Seminary professors and especially PASTORS ought to wrestle with what Tennent is saying and what it might mean as they teach, preach, train, counsel, direct their congregations! I hope working through it will benefit not only myself, but that your appetite will be whet.