My friend, Chris Bruno, and I were pretty sure we were going to have an interview about Antioch School Hawaii on a popular evangelical blog. In God’s providence it did not happen. But we prepared for the interview and I thought I might post it in parts here. So instead of thousands of people reading the interview, there will be about 20 of you (thankful for all of you). But if you think there may be others who could benefit from this, please pass it on:
Pretend Interviewer (PI): What is the state of the evangelical church in Hawaii?
Todd: The best way I might know how to explain this is that The Gospel Coalition, Together 4 the Gospel, Acts 29, and 9 Marks Ministries are basically unknown evangelical movements out here. Some of our most influential churches do not have any semblance of church membership, call women as pastors, and do not see repentance as a necessary fruit of conversion. Those are issues that many people are simply not willing to take a stand on.
I think one of the greatest deficiencies out here is biblical discernment. It is a very laid-back culture in which most people embrace everyone, no questions asked: I have seen conferences in which Calvinist, complementarian, missional preachers have spoken alongside people with unorthodox views of justification and the atonement. I work at a church in which we are one of six churches right next door to each other (less than a quarter mile stretch), and at least two or three of us have other denominations that meet on our properties. And all that kind of diversity is seen as a good thing out here. I do fear for how seriously Christians take the truth of God’s Word.
PI: What is the state of theological education in Hawaii?
Chris: I have had the opportunity to get to know people from a couple of the theological education institutions on Oahu. The first, the Bible Institute of Hawaii, has had a great impact in the islands over the last 25 or 30 years, and I know their education program has been responsible for saving a couple of churches from losing the Gospel. However, their mission is more focused on theological education at the college or Bible institute level, and not so much on training pastors in the context of the church.
The other main institution for theological education is New Hope Christian College-Hawaii. Although they do offer several master’s degrees, their primary focus is training undergraduates. So, again, their primary focus is not church-based leadership training at the graduate level.
Not to mention that while both of these institutions are broadly evangelical, they do not have quite the same doctrinal convictions as some of the Antioch partner churches. So, the long and the short of it is that there is a strong need for graduate theological education within the growing Reformed movement in Hawaii.