Prof. dr. B. van den Toren

Hoogleraar interculturele theologie
Groningen
Beliefs, ST Beliefs

This is the personal webpage of Benno van den Toren, Professor of Intercultural Theology at the Protestant Theological University (Groningen campus).

Personal introduction

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.

Research interests

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.

Recent publications

Books

Articles

  • (with J. Bosco Bangura). ‘Local Theologies on the World Wide Web Various Uses of the Internet for the Study of Theology in Africa’. Impact: Journal of Transformation 4, no. 1 (May 2021): 1–8.
  • With J. Bosco Bangura. ‘Introduction’. In Is Africa Incurably Religious? Secularization and Discipleship in Africa, edited by Benno van den Toren, Joseph Bosco Bangura, and Dick Seed, 1-13. Oxford: Regnum, 2020.
  • ‘African Neo-Pentecostalism in the Face of Secularization: Problems and Possibilities’. In Is Africa Incurably Religious? Secularization and Discipleship in Africa, edited by Benno van den Toren, Joseph Bosco Bangura, and Dick Seed, 107-120. Oxford: Regnum, 2020.
  • ‘The Relationship between the Creation Mandate and Mission Mandate: Intercultural Reflections on African Christian Discipleship in a Secularizing World’. In Is Africa Incurably Religious? Secularization and Discipleship in Africa, edited by Benno van den Toren, Joseph Bosco Bangura, and Dick Seed, 157-173. Oxford: Regnum, 2020.
  • ‘Wat betekent de evolutietheorie voor de christelijke erfzondeleer?’ In En God zag dat het goed was: christelijk geloof en evolutie in 25 cruciale vragen, edited by William den Boer, René Fransen, Rik Peels, and Henk Bakker, 293–305. Kampen: Summum, 2019.
  •  ‘De ware godsdienst. Betekenis en grenzen van Karl Barths theologische inzet voor het gesprek met oosterse godsdiensten’. In De weerbarstige Barth: ongegeneerd over God spreken in theologie, politiek en interreligieuze verhoudingen, edited by G.C. den Hertog, C. van der Kooi, Rinse Reeling Brouwer, and Edward van ’t Slot, 135–49. Utrecht: KokBoekencentrum Uitgevers, 2019.
  • ‘Babel werd een babbelstad? Een messiaanse lezing van de babylonische spraakverwarring’. [‘Gibberish after Babel? A Messianic Reading of the Babylonian Confusion’] In Messiaanse exegese: Bijbelse theologie met het oog op het Rijk: Opstellen aangeboden aan Rinse Reeling Brouwer, edited by Rinse Reeling Brouwer, Edward van ’t Slot, Ariaan Baan, Renée van Riessen, Marco Visser, and Wilken Veen, 79–88. Zoetermeer: Boekencentrum, 2019.
  • ‘Discerning the Spirit in World Religions: The Search for Criteria’. In The Spirit Is Moving: New Pathways in Pneumatology: Studies Presented to Professor Cornelis van Der Kooi on the Occasion of His Retirement, edited by Gijsbert van de Brink, Eveline van Staalduine-Sulman, and Maarten Wisse, 215–31. Studies in Reformed Theology. Leiden; Boston: Brill, 2019.
  • “The Significance of Postcolonial Thinking for Mission Theology’”. Interkulturelle Theologie. Zeitschrift Für Missionswissenschaft 45, no. 2–3 (2019): 210–28.
  • ‘Een interdisciplinair gesprek over bezetenheid - in een netwerk van interculturele interacties’. [Interdisciplinary Conversation on Spirit Possession – Within a Web of Intercultural Interactions.]  Kerk En Theologie 70 (2019): 239–51.
  • ‘Distinguishing Doctrine and Theological Theory: Creating Space at the Interface of Modern Science and the Christian Tradition’. In Finding Ourselves After Darwin: Conversations on the Image of God, Original Sin, and the Problem of Evil, edited by Stanley P. Rosenberg, Michael Burdett, Michael Lloyd, and Benno van den Toren, 11–25. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2018.
  • ‘Introduction to Part 2 Original Sin and Evolution’. In Finding Ourselves After Darwin: Conversations on the Image of God, Original Sin, and the Problem of Evil, edited by Stanley P. Rosenberg, Michael Burdett, Michael Lloyd, and Benno van den Toren, 111–16.
  • ‘Original Sin and the Coevolution of Nature and Culture’. In Finding Ourselves After Darwin: Conversations on the Image of God, Original Sin, and the Problem of Evil, edited by Stanley P. Rosenberg, Michael Burdett, Michael Lloyd, and Benno van den Toren, 173–86.
  • ‘Conclusion to Part 2 Original Sin and Evolution’. In Finding Ourselves After Darwin: Conversations on the Image of God, Original Sin, and the Problem of Evil, edited by Stanley P. Rosenberg, Michael Burdett, Michael Lloyd, and Benno van den Toren, 203–7. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2018
  • ‘Fidélité, Discernement, Humilité et Courage: Le Discipolat Chrétien à l’université’. [‘Faithfulness, Discernment, Humility and Courage: Christian Discipleship at the University’] In Science et Religion. Convergence Ou Antagonisme?, edited by Alphonse Teyabé, CLÉ., 49–69. Yaoundé, Cameroun, 2018.
  • With Klaas L. Bom. ‘A Contribution to the Debate on Science and Faith by Christian Students from Abidjan’. Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science 52, no. 3 (2017): 643–62.
  • ‘“Geliefde, Ik wens dat het u in alles goed gaat en dat u gezond bent, zoals het uw ziel goed gaat”: in gesprek met Afrikaans (Neo-)Pentecostalisme over de aard van het heil.” [‘Beloved, I Pray that you May Prosper in All Things and be in Health, Just as your Soul Prospers.’: a Dialogue with African Neo-Pentecostalism about the Nature of Salvation] Theologia Reformata 60, no. 1 (2017): 44-59.
  • “The Christus Victor Motif in Karl Barth and African Theology: An Essay in Intercultural Theology.” Zeitschrift Für Dialektische Theologie 33, no. 1 (2017): 178–99.
  • “Religion.” Edited by Walter A. Elwell and Daniel J Treier. Evangelical Dictionary of Theology. 3rd ed., Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Academic, 2017, pp. 736-737.
  • « Soyez transformés par le renouvellement de votre intelligence » : Développer une vision chrétienne du monde. [‘Being Transformed by Renewing your Mind: Developing a Christian Worldview’] In : Science et foi : Manuel de cours pour l’Afrique Francophone, sous la direction de Lynda Zegha Maffogang. Cotonou : Presses Bibliques Africaines 2017, pp. 57-75.

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