Prof. dr. B. van den Toren
This is the personal webpage of Benno van den Toren, Professor of Intercultural Theology at the Protestant Theological University (Groningen campus).
In January 2014, I arrived in Groningen after 8 years of teaching in French-speaking Africa followed by 8 years at Wycliffe Hall, University of Oxford. The experience of teaching theology in a non-western cultural environment deeply influenced by African Traditional Religion and Islam and marked by poverty and injustice has profoundly influenced my theological understanding and approach. It has deepened my confidence in the vibrancy, power and relevance of the Christian faith. It has furthermore deepened my understanding of the contextual nature of all expressions of the Christian faith and the need for a serious theological consideration of the question how the Christian faith can both be faithful to the Triune God and relevant to the different contexts in which it is lived out, both overseas and in the post-Christian West. Faithfulness and relevance of the Christian faith and theology are not necessarily polar opposites, for Christian theology can only be relevant in being true to its proper object: God revealed in the crucified and risen Christ. It is this conviction which makes the serious study of theology highly relevant for the life and message of the church today – and which motivates me in my study and teaching of Christian doctrine.
I am thrilled to be invited to take up a teaching position in Intercultural Theology, because I believe that in this area of globalisation intercultural theological dialogue can be a crucial resource for the renewal of the Church in Western Europe and in other parts of the world. This can only happen if intercultural theology engages in a properly theological discussion: a discussion aimed at deepening and broadening our understanding of God and his mission.
I combine my role at the PThU with an Extraordinary Professorship in the Theology of Charismatic Renewal at the VU University in Amsterdam. I still retain links with Wycliffe Hall, where I am Project Co-leader of the ‘Configuring Adam and Eve’ funded by Biologos, which studies the interface between new developments in the study of the evolution of the human species on the one hand and theological anthropology on the other. I visit the Faculté de Théologie Evangélique de Bangui (FATEB, Central African Republic) once a year as a Visiting Professor and supervise doctoral candidates at the Oxford Centre for Mission Studies.
My current research focuses on the theology of religions (with a special interest in Islam), the theological understanding of multiculturalism, the nature and possibility of (cross-cultural) apologetic witness, pneumatology and the interface of science and faith with a focus on human origins. I further welcome doctoral students with an interest in non-Western (and particularly African) theology.
Candidates for doctoral study interested in working in other areas of historical theology, Christian doctrine, the philosophy of religion and intercultural theology are also welcome to apply. In such cases, I will share the supervision with other specialists in the department of Systematic and Intercultural Theology.