Seminary grad and prof combine for book
The desire to tell people what it means to fully experience God’s grace and the freedom of the Gospel led to a book by a professor and student.
Mark D. Baker, Ph. D., associate professor of mission and theology at Fresno Pacific Biblical Seminary, and his student, Kefalew Dinsa Eticha (seminary ’06) wrote Freedom Gospel (Addis Ababa: Baranna, 2011). The book is Baker’s and Eticha’s adaptation of Religious No More: Building Communitites of Grace and Freedom (InterVarsity Press, 1999), which Baker published based on his doctoral dissertation.
Freedom Gospelis more than just a word-for-word translation from English to Amharic, a language of Eticha’s native Ethiopia. It makes Baker’s book relevant to life in the African nation.
In Religious No More, Baker researched half a dozen congregations in a Honduran barrio that preached salvation by faith but lived as though salvation comes through works. This practice, according to Baker, leads to legalistic and judgmental practices that focus on deciding who is “in” and who is “out.” Baker proposes a reading of Paul’s Letter to the Galatians that confronts this tendency and shows how God’s saving action through Jesus Christ makes these boundary lines wrong and unnecessary.
“When I read Mark Baker’s book, I felt like I was reading my own story, my experience of evangelical church,” Eticha said. He felt freed from the legalistic version of Christianity he had experienced in his society. Eticha said he was “transformed and empowered by reading the book.”
Eticha’s love for God and for his people shined throughout this process, Baker said. “As my student, he was passionate about his experience of God’s liberating grace. He also passionately desired to share what he learned with others in Ethiopia. This new book was his idea and it is a reality today because of his hard and persistent work.”
But the work hasn’t stopped with publication. In June, Eticha and Baker will spend 10 days in Ethiopia. The two authors will share in churches from Eticha’s denomination, Meserete Kristos Church (numerically the largest Mennonite Church in the world), the message of Galatians they believe Paul had in mind all along.