The AIIAS Asian Theological Society (AATS) exists to foster a healthy dialogue among members on issues relevant to biblical, theological, historical, and missiological studies in the Asian context. A month before the forum the Society spearheaded the Asian Special Sabbath on June 9, 2018 at the AIIAS Amphitheater with its theme, “Challenges and Triumphs of Mission in Asia,” with Dr. Samuel Saw, Southern Asia-Pacific Division (SSD) president, and Dr. Bienvenido Mergal, SSD vice president as guest speakers.
Dr. Mergal, spoke about “SSD for Christ.” He presented the direction of the SSD not only to bring people to Christ but to disciple them. Dr. Saw imparted the challenges and triumphs of mission in Southern-Asia. One of the challenges he highlighted was how to reach the 10/40 window. This window houses major continents and major religions of the world that should be reached for Christ. He also related the triumphs of the work of God in Southern-Asia and in his own life. That Sabbath the AATS also recognized the contributions of Dr. Stephen Guptill and Dr. Michael Campbell to the society. In the afternoon, after hearing the challenges and triumphs of mission shared by the representatives from 1000 Missionary Movement, Philippine Frontiers Mission, Lay Institute for Global Health Training, and Philippine Amazing Facts Center of Evangelism, the Society ratified its constitution and bylaws and voted for AATS 2018-2019 new officers.
During the 6th Annual Forum, the AATS focused on the theme, “Encountering Religious Pluralism in Asia,” which was held on July 13-14, 2018 at the AIIAS Amphitheater. Dr. Ricardo A. Gonzalez, AIIAS Seminary Dean, emphasized the significance of this forum in his welcome message. According to him, “Since more than half of the population of the world lives here, it is important to talk and to discuss about religious pluralism and how it impacts the mission of the church in this part of the world.”
More than 125 administrators, professors, faculty, students, and lay members attended this year’s forum, coming from various institutions, namely (1) Adventist International Institute of Advanced Studies, (2) Adventist University of the Philippines (AUP), (3) Andrews University, (4) Central Luzon Conference, (5) Manila Adventist College, (6) Mountain View College, (7) Naga View Adventist College, (8) Northern Luzon Adventist College (NLAC), (9) Pag-aralan Natin, (10) Philippine Frontier Mission, (11) Philippine Publishing House, (12) Union Theological Seminary, and (13) 1000 Missionary Movement,
Dr. Francisco Gayoba, AUP president, spoke about doing theology in a time of fake news. He also reminded all presenters to make their presentations and preaching relevant and alive to the hearers whether they are coming from biblical, theological, or applied disciplines.
Nineteen (19) presentations followed, dealing with the theme. The Pag-aralan Natin Crew, headed by Johnson Amican, recorded all the presentations for posterity. The DVD will be kept at the AIIAS library. The topics and presenters include: “Religious Pluralism and Its Implications to the Authority of the Scriptures, Identity, and Mission of the Church” by Dr. Remwil R. Tornalejo; “Adventist Response to Secularism and Pluralism” by Ermela T. Dizon; “Impact of a Post-Confucian Hierarchical Worldview on Korean Protestant Church Growth and Degeneration” by HaeSub Chung; “Making the Vision of Zechariah 8:20-23 a Reality in the Context of Religious Pluralism” by Watson Mbiriri; “Monotheistic Faith in a Pluralistic World in the Postexilic/Persian Period” by Petronio M. Genebago; “Modeling Paul’s Missionary Methods in the Church: An Exegetical and Theological Analyses of Acts 17:16-34” by David Odhiambo; “The Use of the New Testament Approaches to Bridge the Gap Between the Concept of Salvation in Hinduism and Christianity” by Beersheba Maywald; “Hindus’ Belief in Religious Pluralism in India: Scope for Missiological Approach” by Ranjith Kingston Gladstone; “A Comparative Study on the Concept of Sabbath ‘Rest’ in the SDA Church and the Hindu Concept of Moksha” by Andrew Ben Jacob; Cultural Entry Points for Missions to the Matigsalug-Manobo Tribe in Bukidnon, Philippines: A Brief Study of Missional Approaches to Indigenous People-Groups” by Marfeal Santiago; “Stories of Conversion, Retention, and Reclamation: The Southeast Asian Experience” by Dr. Arceli Rosario; “Wali Songo and the Islamic Propagation of Faith: Missiological Implications for the Adventist Church in Indonesia” by Yoanes Sinaga; “Fundamentalism, Islamism, and Extremism: Challenges and Possibilities for Adventist Muslim Ministry in Asia” by Dr. Abner P. Dizon; “Worldviews, Aspirations, Folkways, and Perceptions of Folk Muslims: Promising Pathways for the Christian Mission” by Dr. Jimmy Jiamah V. Adil; “The Javanese and Power Encounter: An Experience” by Dr. Donny Chrissutianto; “Encountering Islamic Culture: Toward A Kingdom-Focused Missiological Approach” by Judson Chhakchhuak; “Ecumenism: Its Impact on Adventist Mission” by Cristopher V. Luaya “On Seventh-day Adventist Church Joining the Ecumenical Movement: Cooperation or Compromise?” by Dan Namanya. To prepare the presenters to publish their research Dr. Nestor C. Rilloma presented “The Challenge to Theological Research: Publish or Perish.”
Dr. Carlos Elias Mora challenged the worshippers to keep the flame of mission burning through his message “The Mission: The Permanent Challenge” during the divine worship. He particularly addressed the youth and made an appeal to them. Several young people stood to be missionaries for Jesus. The forum ended with the commitment message of Dr. Nepthali J. Mañez, NLAC president, highlighting that despite the religious pluralism that this generation faces today, the only way to God and to salvation is through Jesus Christ, who is the way, the truth, and the life.
Dr. Jim Adil, one of the presenters from Mountain View College, appreciated the forum. He emailed, “I am speaking from my heart when I say that so far it's one of the best forums I’ve attended and presented at. It was well organized, the communications beforehand were sufficient, and we presenters were treated well with some perks. I hope to be active in AATS, especially in terms of presentations and publications. Hope to be with you again in the next.”
Article by: Petronio M. Genebago, AATS president 2017-2018