Billy Graham Center at Wheaton College
Beyond Literate Western Models:
Contextualizing Theological Education in Oral Contexts
As a missiologist and as a father whose daughter is serving a people-group in Tanzania with a completely oral culture, I cannot express strongly enough how significant this initiative is to reach the oral based cultures of the world. This collection of essays covers a wide range of issues, including methods, pedagogy, the relationship of non-formal education to traditional formal programs, and the importance of the narrative structure of the Bible, just to name a few. These essays harvest the best insights from the 2012 Orality Consulation by bringing into one volume experts from across the world. I commend this volume to the global church and urge churches and mission agencies everywhere to take up this challenge with vigor. There are thousands of people-groups around the world who will not be reached without it.
Have we ever seen such a rich DNA resource with such crucial insights-global implications for the Kingdom of God in Christ? This discussion belongs to all reflective practitioners and grass-roots servants who grapple with the ongoing challenge of offering-narrating to every person in every generation in every geography and in every culture and in their mother tongue, the inexpressible power of the captivating Story of the transforming Servant King. Why did we not have relatively small publication, packed with vast and true implications, decades ago?
"70% to 80% of the world can’t, won’t, or don’t depend on literacy; oral learners do not adequately comprehend nor significantly retain vital information presented to them in literate ways. Therefore there is great urgency to communicate the Truth of the Bible in an understandable way to such precious people in this new century. The chapters presented in this book seek to grapple with critical matters and strategies of theological education and the oral preference learner with a view toward effectiveness in world evangelization."
The sweet breeze of loving all of our neighbors is coming from seminaries worldwide. These influencers of higher education are seriously embracing the value of including the needs of oral learners in seminary education. Oral strategies are being examined and included as academics are seeing that this embrace does not have to compromise the supremacy of Scripture nor the delivery theological truth.
"More than 4/5 of the Bible are dramatic narratives that have been told and retold over the generations as the transformational stories that they are meant to be. In this generation we are again recovering the importance of this oral communal story-telling of God's Word if we are to reach the unreached people of the world as well as today's digital generation. God's stories told using appropriate cultural art forms and cutting-edge media enable the Word of God to bring transformation in the lives of individuals and reformation to every sphere of society. The insights gained through this record of the orality consultation will encourage you to rethink how we might best reengage theological education and training in a fresh way!"
"Oral preference learners are in our midst, for too long we have ignored them and have not figured out how to embrace them in theological education. This book raises thoughtful questions as to our education models, processes, and evaluations. Time has come for us to examine our approaches."
Kerugma (Greek) is the preached Word and Katib (Hebrew) is the written Word. Both are inseparable. The preached Word often proceeds before the written Word. It is a truism in antiquity as well as in postmodernity. The making and receiving of sound begins the journey of a person’s life in birth, and hearing is often the last sense that a person looses before death. Hence, orality and narrative form the basic fabric of a person’s learning. It happens in a child’s learning (pedagogue) as well as in adult’s learning (androgogue). It is true for the tribal people as well as for the technical professionals. The Consultation on Orality in The Graham Center with verbal interactions and the subsequent proceeding in the written form of the present book testify to this paradigmatic shift in missiological thinking. I am honored to witness both events.