John Langlois – a life committed to good theological education

  • In NEWS
  • October 30, 2019
John Langlois – a life committed to good theological education

John E. Langlois serves as the Council Secretary of the World Evangelical Alliance and as Chairman of the WEA Religious Liberty Commission. He has been a member of the International Council of the WEA since 1969.

 

In August 2019, John Langlois travelled to Singapore to attend the 50th anniversary of the Asia Theological Association. He was there 50 years ago and was instrumental in helping to open the first office. Here is his story in his own words (taken from a message he wrote to the ATA secretary earlier this year):

 

“I am looking forward enormously to coming to Singapore in August, fifty years after I first went to Singapore to open the new TAP-Asia office, which was subsequently renamed ATA. It may be of interest to you to know my motivation 50 years ago.

 

In my teenage years I was passionate about the churches having a solid base in biblical theology. On 6 March 1963, when I was 19 years of age, the Lord called me to devote my life to it. I was studying law at the time. I eventually completed my law studies, being called to two bars, the English Bar and the Guernsey Bar in the Channel Islands, where I live, but not before having undertaken my studies in theology.

 

I studied at the London Bible College between 1966 and 1969. I studied for the college degree and also the BD of the University of London. I needed the latter in order to teach in theological colleges overseas. Unfortunately I failed the BD. In that year 72% of all theology students in all colleges of the University of London also failed. There was a real revolution after that. The regime changed radically. It was a time when liberal theology was rampant and when evangelical answers to examination questions were unacceptable. I doubled my efforts to do something about it!

 

The faculty at the London Bible College were of the opinion that I would make a better administrator than a teacher. The principal of the college introduced me to Bruce Nicholls, who was doing further studies there at the time. Bruce and I formed an immediate bond in our passion for good biblical theology. He asked me to join him in the work as he needed an administrator to push the work forward, as he was still teaching full-time in Yeotmal. Bruce was particularly worried because the very liberal Theological Education Fund of the World Council of Churches were giving scholarships to leaders of evangelical churches, particularly in Africa, to indoctrinate them in liberal theology, such as John Mbiti in Kenya. It was having devastating effects on the churches. Bruce and I just as passionate as we were half a century ago – and Bruce continues as old as he is!

 

I spent three months with Bruce in India between September and December 1969, working with him and also visiting a number of theological colleges in the country. Then at the end of December 1969 I came to Singapore and in the next three months set up the TAP-Asia office, with Bong Rin Ro as secretary, and the remainder his history! I helped to organise the very successful first conference in Hong Kong in 1973. I am immensely proud of all you have achieved in the past 50 years. God has richly rewarded your faithfulness to Him.

 

A little more of my own history. My own passion for good theology in my teens stems from the fact that I could see the erosion of solid theology in my church, a Pentecostal church. I was asked to preach on the last Sunday before I left to go to college. I said that unless the church devoted itself to a solid Bible-based foundation it would become liberal within 50 years, whereas the Methodist church had taken two hundred years.

 

That latter reference was particularly poignant to me and my family. My family had been active Methodists since the time of John Wesley but in 1926 my grandfather left the Methodist Church and joined the Elim Pentecostal Church because that is where the gospel was preached. He wanted his children to be brought up in biblical truth. Although the lay members in the Methodist church were good Christian people, the ministers were preaching Modernism, casting doubt on the authority of Scripture, including the Virgin Birth, the physical Resurrection of Christ, the Second Coming and so on.

I shall now go back a step. In 1509 the Roman Catholic priest of the parish where I presently live was called John Langlois, the same name as me, a member of my family. Then the Protestant Reformation occurred. On the neighbouring island of Jersey, in 1574 the Royal Court of Jersey, which was the government at the time, asked another of my family, Martyn Langlois, to go and study Protestant theology in Wittenberg, Luther’s seminary, so that he could return to the islands and establish Protestant theology in the churches. As you can well imagine, it is one thing to declare a Reformation, but quite another thing to instil Protestant theology in the hearts and minds of the clergy who can then do the same in their congregations. Martyn Langlois completed his studies in Wittenberg and returned to the island of Jersey in 1580. Within four years he had solidly established Protestant theology in the Established Church, which was now in a diocese of the Church of England. The government was so encouraged that they sent Martyn to Guernsey, where I live, to do the same on our island, which he did. Ever since that time the churches in all the Channel Islands have been thoroughly Protestant. John Wesley was very much welcomed 200 years later.

 

So when I came to Singapore 50 years ago to set up the TAP-Asia that was my motivation – 400 years of family history.

 

The European Evangelical Alliance is deeply thankful for people like John Langlois who have prayerfully committed their lives to causes greater than themselves for the glory of God. Even in older age, John Langlois continues to contribute to good theological education globally – recently through kicking off a project on the World Evangelical Alliance level dubbed the “WEA Resource Library”.