Regent University Professor Emeritus Jon Ruthven is scheduled to speak April 6 and 7 on theology and Jesus’ mission for the religion department’s Faith in Life lecture series.
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Jon Ruthven, professor emeritus of Regent University and charismatic minister, is this year’s lecturer for the religion department’s Faith in Life Series on April 6 – 7.
“It’s a series in which we try to get speakers who will give lectures that are theologically rich and nevertheless directed toward living the Christian life,” said Tom Burke, professor of religion and department chair.
A graduate of Trinity Evangelical Divinity School and Marquette University, where he received his doctorate in theology in 1989, Ruthven pastored a church for 12 years, spent two years founding a ministry training school in Nairobi, Kenya, and served as professor of theology at Regent University Divinity School for 18 years. He taught 26 different classes there.
During the last four years, he established a doctor of ministry track at United Theological Seminary in Dayton, Ohio, graduating 47 students during that time. Research in this track focused on replicating the healing mission and message of Jesus as emphasized in the New Testament and observing the results of these training programs.
Ruthven now works with with a large missions organization to create a Christian worker training program. He said this theology emphasizes training like that the disciples of the Gospel received in order to heal the sick, cleanse lepers, and cast out demons through the powers of the Holy Spirit.
Ruthven said when he tried to develop a ministry training program that conformed more closely to the methods and standards of Jesus, he found that he did not understand the Gospel as well as he thought. He returned to a more biblical emphasis and quest for an authentic Christianity from Jesus — not just about Jesus.
Traditional ministry training programs, he said, focus on an academic grasp of information rather than on spiritual intimacy with God and his practical mission.
“The typical minister today don’t go around healing people and cleansing lepers and raising the dead, but some of my students were doing exactly that,” Ruthven said.
Ruthven said one of his students helped found what may be some of the most successful missionaries in Christianity, converting 2 million over 20 years and producing 18,000 pastors and Christian workers in Eastern Africa. Ruthven said missionaries have been especially successful in at least three provinces in Mozambique, where many have converted from Islam to Christianity.
“What they do is exactly what I had in mind for training Christian ministers and workers,” he said.
Ruthven will lecture on “The Quest for Authentic Theology” April 6 at 4 p.m. in Phillips Auditorium; “The Original Mission of Jesus,” April 6 at 8 p.m. in Phillips Auditorium; and “The Original Mission of Jesus for Us,” April 7 at 4 p.m. in Dow A & B.
Ruthven said he hopes the lectures encourage students to experience for themselves the original commission of Jesus to his disciples in the Gospels.
“Pray for people, and see what happens,” he said. “Don’t be ashamed of the Gospel because when you try it, it works.”