Saturday, October 25, 2008

ICAATS An Assessment 003

Seeking advise for ICAATS in 1994 from Johnson Philip resulted in total transformation of ICAATS work. Since he had both secular (Jiwaji University, Gwalior) as well as theological (BBI, Pathanamthitta) teaching experience, and since he was also part of an Asian theological accreditor (ATA), he gave many suggestions that transformed ICAATS.

The first suggestion was to help those institutions in Middle East, Far East, Africa and Eastern Europe that did not have the freedom to openly identify themselves as a Bible school or theological seminary. The next ten years were spent in contacting people from these countries, guiding them, and giving them instruction in how to impart quality theological education.

Monday, October 20, 2008

ICAATS An Assessment 002

The arrival of nineteen seventies saw the exit of most foreign missionaries from North India. The last of the men to leave realized the urgent need to bring more Indians into ICAATS, train them, and entrust the work to them.

Several of them took initiative to induct more Indians, but at the same time they insisted that the work remain non formal and at the level of guiding Bible schools and seminaries to attain quality education and training. By the early seventies even the last non Indians connected with this work left India.

Most of the Indians were new to such a work and this resulted in a long-term stagnation at the level that the missionaries had left. What is more, a couple of the team members left India for jobs and two key men Isaiah Edwin Parmar and Jacob Joseph met untimely death.

The work continues at a slow pace till 1994 when some of the men decided to seek the advice of Johnson Philip, an educator. He came from a University background and had served as Honorary Visiting Professor of physics at the School of Studies in Physics, Jiwaji University. He also had considerable experience in theological education because of his involvement with the Brethren Bible Institute at Pathanamthitta, India.

Since he was nominated by BBI, he was also a General Body Member of ATA (an evangelical accrediting body with work all over Asia). He was also an examiner for ATA accredited institutions. He gave many suggestions and guidelines for ICAATS for the direction that ICAATS had to take.

Friday, October 17, 2008

ICAATS: Reactions

[ICAATS] As soon as certain evangelical and conservative missionaries decided to establish a (formal or informal) system for quality-guidance in the Indian theological world, there was great bickering and opposition from the theologically radical thinkers and radical seminaries.

Theological radicals in India were quick to realize that the evangelical Christian movement is likely to grow explosively in the free India, and that with that will come numerous evangelical seminaries. What is more, with some kind of a formal guidance in quality, they would soon overtake the dominance that the theological radicals were enjoying in the arena of Indian theological education.

Most of them stopped admitting students from evangelical seminaries into their advanced degree programs, and eventually they stopped admitting students of any type who hailed from an evangelical or conservative church. However, the people who conceived of ICAATS remained firm in their decision and went on guiding theological seminaries in an informal manner – for they realized that an informal setup would best serve the independent India.

ICAATS An Assessment 001

ICAATS came into existance in the ninteen fifties. It was the work of non Indian missionaries who realized that the Indian Church needs to look after the quality of its education as soon as India became free from England.

Almost all major theological education in pre-independence India was controlled by non Indian academic institutions and goverments. There was Portugese control of theological education in some part of India, while in other portions there was Dutch, Danish, or British control. With Independence all of it would be gone and the Indians needed to take over.

Missionaries who worked with the Evangelical Alliance Mission were the first to think of standardizing Indian theological education to bring it to International levels. After much talk and delibertion they founded many educational programs between 1950 to 54, of which ICAATS was on in a nescent form.

Initially the purpose of ICAATS  was to develop and standardize curriculum and this was done in an informal manner by many of these missionaries. They also offered informal consultation to not only their own institutions but also to any institution of any denomination that would seek their help.

From around 1950 to 1970 the work remained mostly in the hands of non Indians, but from 1970s ownards an increasing number of Indians came into this spehere. With that came the second stage in the expansion and consolidation of ICAATS, and we will have a look at it in the next post.