Dr. Winter Receives The ETS Newsletter

Dr. Ralph Winter was a member of the Evangelical Theological Society (ETS), which sent out its biannual newsletter in April of 1978. The editor begins by reminding members of the inauguration of the ETS newsletter the year before as a “house organ” within ETS to serve some of the members by meeting their needs. He says, “Judging by the correspondence and comments received, many of you found that rather modest maiden endeavor helpful, even though our appeal for information received only a 6% response.” This year the Executive Committee of ETS has directed the society to plan on releasing two such letters a year, one in April and one in October. By this time, response to the appeal for information has increased to 12%, which is an energizing 100% growth rate over what it was previously. However, admittedly fourteen members responded by only signing their name and not providing actual information. The editor interprets this to be an encouragement to him in the keeping up of the percentage, for which he thanks them.

The format for the ETS newsletter will remain the same, with announcements given, reports made, and members’ publications and projects listed. The purpose is so members will remain informed about the scholarly research happening within the society, with the goal that common concerns will somehow be brought to the forefront, that cross-fertilization of ideas will occur, and an overall stimulus of evangelical scholarship will result. Should anything that members read in the newsletter stir interest and cause them to want more information, the editor asks them to use the annual ETS directory to find the address of the person involved so that they may contact him or her directly. He writes, “As editor of this newsletter I will attempt to report on the scholarly activities going on within the society, but I cannot serve as a clearing house for ideas nor a resource person for various projects.” Members are best advised to contact directly whomever they find in the newsletter’s listing to be working in their area(s) of interest.

The next issue of this newsletter will be distributed in October of 1978. In this newsletter, the last page asks for information for the October issue. The society is attempting to try this method of requesting information in the first issue for the second issue in order to save on stationary, time and postage in making that second appeal each year. “The [page] asks for the usual features, plus gives an opportunity for research students who will be available for teaching posts in the near future to list their credentials and interests.” So the editor is asking members to fill out the page and mail it back to him by September 1st for inclusion in the October 1978 newsletter.


TEE In The United States And Beyond

A letter was written to the representative of the Free Methodists on April 30, 1997 regarding two projects that the sender has discussed with Dr. Ralph Winter. The writer invites Winter to proofread this draft and to make corrections and suggestions for the next one. The subject is Theological Education by Extension (TEE). The writer begins by saying that Dr. Winter, one of three pioneers of TEE (alongside Jim Emery and Ross Kinsler), believes it is time to reinvent the concept. After it was created 30 years before, it thrived and reached 100,000 students until people understood that it was not occurring in the United States. Winter notes, “But now US universities have been forced by economics into extension centers and distance learning. So we have another chance to offer quality field-based education to the 80,000 who will never attend a residential university.”

The sender goes on to mention that Winter has developed two new field-based programs at William Carey International Univeristy (WCIU) in Pasadena, CA. One leads to a Bachelor of Arts and the other to a Master of Arts. These liberal arts courses provide students with a Christian perspective on history, science, philosophy, and literature. They have the Bible at the center and equip students to exegete and apply the Scriptures. Dr. Winter has offered the current professor of Christian Thought and History at Spring Arbor College the opportunity to join the staff at WCIU and “work with Free Methodist missionaries around the world to adapt these programs for their use and to help Free Methodist educational programs become models for other denominations.” The present president of WCIU will have a role like this one with the Southern Baptists starting in September of this year.

There are five goals that the Free Methodist professor hopes to accomplish through this project.

  1. Recruit three Free Methodist academic leaders to enroll in WCIU’s field-based Ph.D. program.
  2. Introduce the modular course, Perspectives on the World Christian Movement, to Free Methodist institutions who offer Bachelor’s degrees in order to raise missions awareness and sophistication. This course already has 30,000 alumni in the US.
  3. Train one leader per institution to continue to teach the Perspectives.
  4. Analyze the effectiveness and needs of current Free Methodist theological schools and extension programs, and determine in what capacity WCIU could serve them.
  5. Increase enrollment in Free Methodist theological education by 5% by way of more effective use of extension education.

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Dr. Winter Reflects On Muslims and Christians

Dr. Ralph Winter wrote an essay dated October 10, 2003 to which he gave the title “Gutenberg and the Eclipse of Islam.” He begins with a story of a three-year-old boy accidentally gashing the forehead of a playmate with a steel toy. Both children have missionary parents, and one family is visiting the other. A Moroccan family is also present. “Immediately the missionary mother of the offending boy rushed to apologize, and asked the boy who did the harm to apologize. The other mother asked her boy to forgive.” The Moroccan family is totally amazed, saying that if this had happened in their society, the two families would have never spoken again. What is the difference?, Winter asks. When Martin Luther was a leader in the early 1500s, there were as many Muslims in the world as there were Christians, despite the 600-year late start of Islam. In 2003, there are half as many Muslims as Christians. Ironically, in Luther’s day Muslims were ahead of European Christians in many intellectual, political and military endeavors. One explanation is that they inherited the riches of the Roman Empire of which Northern Europe was a very small part. So what in the world caused life for Christians to accelerate around 1500? Modern Europe rose significantly from tribalism, whereas the intellectually and educationally superior Islam made next to no progress in comparison.

Western historians do not desire to be accused of being ethnocentric, thereby exaggerating their own cultural tradition. In the West, we do everything we can to keep from thinking that our way of life is inherently superior. We remember the world wars we were involved in as well as the Holocaust. Yet others around the world just wonder how the West achieved its greatness even though it has weaknesses. Winter writes, “They can plainly see relative superiority on practically every front—educational, technical, economic, political freedoms, human rights, medical care, emancipation of women, care for the environment, etc. Doesn’t much of the non-Western world want to migrate to the West if it only could?” This curious and apparent Western superiority, which in 2003 is sharing its science and technology with the world, and leading the world in virtue as well as noticeable vice, represents a recent and considerable change.

In the age of Martin Luther, Gutenberg made possible the printing of a quarter of a million documents, three fourths of which were religious. When the moveable type was introduced to Europe in 1450, Europe was flooded with printed material over time, and the handy lingua franca allowed thinkers all over Europe, and even late 18th century America, to use Latin as a universal language. Winter argues that Islam did not gain from the moveable type because the Arabic script does not lend itself easily to discrete characters, which flow together. If Muslims had had the Bible, Winter believes they would have been diligently copying it as in Europe. So the Bible was a prime mover. The Bible brought about Luther’s concept of sola scriptura, the belief in Biblical authority as being above all else. It became a tangible touchstone which the living God used to guide, outranking all human authority. The Bible presents concepts of love, forgiveness and meekness that radically challenge unredeemed societies. “It was, in effect, the pregnant disturbance that formed the radically new modern West with all of its rare and genuine virtues as well as allowing and tolerating hostile rejection of the divine.” Winter thinks that it is the rejection of the Bible in 2003 that has caused broken families, emotionally disturbed children, and businesses and political leaders who are morally corrupt. Re-introducing the Bible is the only way to keep the West from falling into a new dark age, so Winter is encouraged about a project he is aware of to take the Bible to the heart of our cultural stream on the PBS television station.