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James Wm. McClendon Chair

Theologie wordt niet vanuit de academie voorgeschreven,
maar ontspringt vanuit de gemeenschap van gelovigen
waar Jezus Christus wordt geloofd en beleefd.

Het draait in theologisch onderzoek om het 'geleefde geloof' uit het midden van de gemeenschap. Onderzoek gebeurt vanuit de James Wm. McClendon leerstoel voor ‘baptistic and evangelical theologies’ aan de VU Amsterdam onder leiding van prof. dr. Henk Bakker. Het is de bedoeling dat deze onderzoeken zowel de gemeente als academie dienstbaar zijn. Lokale kerken kunnen de vruchten van deze onderzoeken nu al plukken. Deze onderzoeken kunnen een kerkenraad bijvoorbeeld inzicht geven in de wijze waarop gemeenten zichzelf verstaan, waardoor processen van verandering en gemeenteopbouw niet alleen concreter, maar ook effectiever worden. Naast de lokale gemeenten is het Baptisten Seminarium gediend met de resultaten van het onderzoek. Zonder verbinding met het werkveld is het vergelijkbaar met een dokterspraktijk zonder apotheek: diagnoses worden gesteld, maar het juiste medicijn kan niet worden ontwikkeld.

Prof. Dr. Henk Bakker

De gemeente van toen en nu als laboratorium voor theologie.


Radical christian materialism

The James Wm. McClendon Chair for Baptistic and Evangelical Theologies was installed on september 1st 2017 at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam and dedicated to the baptistic, free church mentality, theology and reasoning of James Wm. McClendon (1924-2000). His basic premise may be summarized to radical christian materialism: Christianity is about knowing and obeying Christ as bodily as it can be, as an individual follower of Christ, and as a participant in His community. Christian faith materializes; otherwise it may be deemed illusive or defective. Such emphasis on the morality of bodily presence automatically comes with the history and lived tradition of the Baptist, Anabaptist and Free Church tradition. Major voices from these springs have always underscored the Christ-centred visibility of the Christian faith.

The McClendon Chair for Baptistic & Evangelical Theologies is determined to hold on to these core values, to study them, and to be committed to living them out.

James Wm. McClendon

James Wm. McClendon (1924-2000) may be characterized as an inspiring Atlantic theologian. His three volumes on systematic theology exhibit profound knowledge of European and American theology, as it specifically revolves around the retrieval of the baptistic tradition. It also profoundly affected theological thinking on both sides of the Atlantic.  He combines the Free Church mentality with robust orientations of Barthian, Mennonite and narrative-hermeneutical background. Anyhow, the result is a challenging and in McClendon’s days a timely presentation of baptistic theology as a way of living and thinking the truth of Christ.

At the onset of the third millennium McClendon’s theology proves even more beneficial and relevant than decades before, because in the present demise of grand narrative of the church, Christian life should be spoken of in terms of diaspora ecclesiology. The church is, and will become, a social-religious minority. Hence, Christianity will not predominantly be studied as a historical and dogmatic reality, but as a lived conviction and a lived religion. Whosoever thinks and believes as a Christian lives like a Christian.

Henk Bakker

Henk Bakker (1960) is the current chairholder of the James Wm. McClendon Chair for Baptistic and Evangelical Theologies. Born and raised in a typical Dutch Protestant environment, he became fascinated by the Gospel life and turned to believers baptism in 1978. He studied in Leuven (Ba, and Lic./Ma), Utrecht University (Ma in New Testament) and Groningen as promovendus (PhD). During his study and life, Henk developed a broad interest in sources (mainly early christian writings), New Testament Theology and the connection to the local church (in practical theology). He has been teaching at the Christian University of Applied Sciences (Ede, Netherlands), the Dutch Baptist Seminary and Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam.