Stimulus - Volume 21 Issue 3 - Nov 2014


Okay, Now You Can Turn It Off
Daphne Marsden

Who Do You Say That I Am? A Japanese Response To The Person And Work of Christ
Yukiko Wakui-Khaw

Friends, We Have A Learning Disability
David Wells

Models and Metaphors: Miracles
Nicola Hoggard Creegan

The Voice: From Text to Life: The One Thing
Geoff New

The One Theology Book All Atheists Really Should Read?
Bob Robinson

St Imulus

Educated Guesses: Some Thoughts On 'A Feast Of Knowledge And Understanding'
Wendy Fowler



The three major articles in this issue of Stimulus were all contributed by people associated with the Laidlaw Graduate School. The first article, “Okay, Now You can Turn it off,” by Daphne Marsden comes from her 2013 Master of Theology thesis, “Dishonoured and Unheard: Christian Women, Domestic Violence and the Church.” In her research Daphne interviewed several Christian women whose lives had been affected by domestic violence, and found that the response from the churches these women were associated with was sadly inadequate. The article examines some of the theology that such responses grow out of. This is followed by an article by current Master of Theology student, Yukiko Wakui-Khaw. Yukiko is a Japanese national who teaches Japanese in New Zealand. She has written a piece of contextual theology entitled, “Who Do You Say that I Am? A Japanese Response to the Person and Work of Christ.” Yukiko considers some of the cultural barriers that hinder Japanese people from adopting western Christological models. The third article is by David Wells, a former student of the Graduate School, now working towards a Doctor of Ministry degree with the Australian College of Theology. David’s article “Friends, We have a Learning Disability” considers an appropriate response to numerical decline in the Church in New Zealand, and points not so much to the increasing secularisation of New Zealand culture, but to shortcomings in the way the church has adapted to its new context in an increasingly secularised age. I trust you find these articles stimulating, along with the regular columns and reviews, and Bob Robinson’s extended review article discussing a recent book critiquing popular atheism.

The Laidlaw Graduate School had its beginnings almost twenty years ago when the Bible College of NZ received accreditation to offer postgraduate degrees from the NZ Qualifications Authority, one of the first non-universities in the country to be awarded this privilege. The graduate school emerged as a separate school within the College in 1997, but took on its real identity as the Tyndale Graduate School of Theology at the start of 2002. The Dean was Tim Meadowcroft and I was appointed the first Registrar in that year.

The name Tyndale Graduate School of Theology has an interesting history behind it. In 1980 Murray Harris, then Lecturer in New Testament at BCNZ was concerned at the lack of graduate level theological education in NZ. He founded Tyndale College, which he described “as a part time school of theology for university graduates.” Tyndale College ran for one evening a week in hired premises, first in Ellerslie, and then in a more central location, and offered seminar based tuition in the subjects of the Melbourne College of Divinity (MCD, now MCD University of Divinity) Bachelor of Divinity degree (BD). Tyndale College’s target market was people working in a professional capacity, whom Murray challenged to aim for parity in their understanding of their faith alongside their expertise in their professional life. Over the twenty years until 2000, when the MCD discontinued its BD degree, around twenty people, including engineers, medical doctors, educators, lawyers and accountants graduated with a BD. Tyndale College folded when the BD was discontinued, and the Bible College, which had been looking for a distinctive brand for the graduate school, took over the name.

The Tyndale Graduate School of Theology has been through a series of incarnations over its history. From 2006 until 2011 there was a partnership with Carey Baptist College, which, at that time, was not accredited to offer a master’s degree. The name was changed to the Tyndale-Carey Graduate School, and then with the change of the name of the Bible College to Laidlaw College it became the Laidlaw-Carey Graduate School. In 2012, with the approval given for Carey Baptist College to offer their Master of Applied Theology degree, the partnership was dissolved, and the graduate school was renamed the Laidlaw Graduate School.

Over the years some outstanding research has been produced. Here are a few examples. In 2013, Rebecca Bell Little submitted her thesis “Divine Glory and Justice in Habakkuk.” While Rebecca recognised the scholarly consensus that Habakkuk is a theodicy, vindicating God over injustice, she argued that a more fundamental theme in the book was the glory of the Lord, recognising that the rhetorical centre of the book was Hab 2:14, “the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.” In 2011, Andy Dickson submitted his thesis, “What Must I do to Inherit Eternal Life? A Study of Luke 10:25–37 and 18:18–30.” Jesus was asked a legal question, regarding the identity of the righteous. But his response was in terms, not of the boundary markers that his interlocutor was expecting, but in terms of “boundary-less extravagant love” towards all those we encounter – living as Jesus himself lived. Alistair Donaldson’s 2006 thesis was quite different. It was entitled “Rethinking Eschatology: An Examination of the Hermeneutics and Key Tenets of Dispensationalism.” Alistair challenges the dispensational belief system, and shows that the so called “literal hermeneutical principle” is seriously flawed. If so, the belief that Israel and the church are distinct in God’s purposes, that the kingdom of God is a future political and national kingdom for Israel, that the rapture of the saints will take place before the millennium and that the millennium is the fulfillment of Israel’s kingdom hopes, are called into question. This thesis has since been published as The Last Days of Dispensationalism.

At the beginning of 2015 the Laidlaw Graduate School turns a full circle and becomes part of Laidlaw’s School of Theology as it was at the beginning. It will no longer be a separate school, but we will still be concentrating on producing world-class theological research like these examples.

Philip Church
Dean of the Laidlaw Graduate School and the Editor of Stimulus