Based in Arlington, Virginia, the John Leland Center for Theological Studies and its president, Dr. Mark Olson, offer a range of programs leading to degrees in divinity studies. The school welcomes Baptist students and regularly engages in dialogue with representatives of other faith streams as well. Dr. Mark Olson also supports the John Leland Center for Theological Studies faculty’s engagement with the issues of the day as they affect the Christian community.
Faculty member Dr. Andrey Shirin recently gave an interview to Christianity Today magazine in which he discussed legislation in Russia making it more difficult to share information about religious faith.
In 2016, under the aegis of legislation created to counter terrorism, the Russian government passed laws curtailing the freedom of Christians to evangelize to people raised in other traditions. A leading Baptist organization in the country has expressed concern that the move presents steep obstacles to the exercise of religious freedom in that it prohibits the running of churches out of private homes and compels missionaries to obtain official permits.
In the CT interview, the Russian-born Professor Shirin provided perspective on how Russia’s traditional Orthodox Church maintains the dictum that belief should manifest a strong “communal” aspect. This is in contrast with the Baptist view that faith belongs more to the private realm, based on communion directly with God.