May 2012

SATS graduation address

I was asked to give the keynote address at the recent 10th graduation ceremony of the South African Theological Seminary (SATS), which was birthed 16 years ago out of my local church and is today one of the largest distance learning seminary in the Southern Hemisphere.  

We founded SATS’ on three pillars – Bible based, Christ centered, and Spirit led.  In the address I covered these key principles and stressed the need to see Christ restored as the central focus of the church.  I encouraged the graduates – all leaders in their fields – to apply these three foundational principles to their lives, churches, and ministries,  and to use their influence to encourage others to do so to. This video is of that address.

Academic article on the Christocentric Principle published

Conspectus, the academic journal of the South African Theological Seminary (SATS), recently published an article of mine advocating the interpretation of scripture from a Christocentric perspective

What I refer to as the Christocentric Principle is an approach to biblical interpretation that seeks to understand scripture from a Jesus-perspective. In other words, a way of interpreting scripture primarily from the perspective of what Jesus taught and modelled, and from what he revealed concerning the nature, character, values, principles, and priorities of the Godhead.
The significance of this article  is not that it is likely to make headlines but rather that that it provides a peg in the ground, paving a way for argument and debate within Christian academic circles on the centrality of Jesus in our theology, church and everyday lives.  

In the article I argue vigorously for the restoration on Christ-centred hermeneutic approach to the interpretation of the scriptures and their application in everyday life. The article crystalises a year’s worth of dialogue with SATS’ leaders and academics, and will now become prescribed reading for SATS’ students.

In these discussions with the SATS’ academic team,  I constantly posed the question: what does it means for us to be Christ-centred?  For me it means:

  • In all we do, we seek to give due honour and glory to the Lord Jesus Christ.
  • The goal of the Christian life is to become like the Lord Jesus Christ.
  • The person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ is central to all Christian life, doctrine, and ministry.
  • The nature of God as revealed in the words and works of the Lord Jesus Christ is a lens for interpreting God’s word and discerning his will.

In my recent address to SATS graduates at the recent graduation ceremony, I urged them to oversee the restoration of Christocentricity to the church, to apply the principles to their lives, to pass them on and to influence others to do so too.

Will you faithful readers of my blog do the same?


Download the article here ->, The Christocentric Principle-A Jesus-Centred Hermeneutic.pdf


Concern for the integrity of the Gospel

In this series I have been developing the basis for my concern for the integrity of the Gospel. In this my final post I will summarise my thoughts.

On the one hand I am seeing a distinct tendency among some evangelists to present just a part of the Gospel message. Salvation is often portrayed as a passport to heaven or a get-out-of-hell-free card. There is little or no explanation of who Jesus is, what He has done, and how people are to respond to Him and his Gospel. All the recipients of the ‘good news’ are often asked to do is accept Jesus into their hearts, say a ‘sinner’s prayer’, or even just put up their hands. All of this seems to take its lead from Romans 10:13 which reads, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” However, that very text continues in verse 14 with, ‘How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in?’ This is the question which troubles me so. Surely the good news of Jesus must be articulated so that people may know the one they need to believe in? Of course the Holy Spirit could take even the speech of a donkey to communicate but we cannot, with integrity, claim that because of this we do not need to articulate a clear and complete Gospel message. Where is the validity of inviting people to receive salvation if they have no understanding of who Jesus is, what He has done for them, and how He requires them to respond?

Our churches are filled with nominal ‘Christians’, men and women who show little commitment to Jesus, little if any spiritual growth, and almost no desire to proclaim the Gospel to others. This is little wonder if in fact so many come into the Church without first being born again of the Spirit of God! And how are they to be born again if they do not REPENT – ACCEPT – ASK – RECEIVE – and CONFESS?

On the other hand, I see many people who have grown up in a Christian environment, but who have never received new spiritual life in Jesus name. They know the language, rights, and rituals of the church, but they do not evidence spiritual life and growth. Again, little wonder if they have never been born again from above.

I am not making judgements here concerning the worth of individuals, and I do not presume to know their inner thoughts or how they may have related to Jesus in their lives. I am just deeply concerned! I am concerned that, generally speaking, the church appears to be in trouble, and I suspect that a big part of the problem is that it consists to a large measure of unregenerate adherents to the Christian ‘religion’ but who lack spiritual life. I am equally concerned that many of those who assume the role of evangelists preach an inadequate Gospel that is in effect no Gospel at all.

I am aware that I am generalising and that I am perhaps also overstating the case. I do this in order to make the point with as much impact as I can. However, you be the judge of what I say. Do you share my concern, or do you think that generally speaking the Gospel is being adequately and faithfully proclaimed?

About Me

My name is Christopher Peppler and I was born in Cape Town, South Africa in 1947. While working in the financial sector I achieved a number of business qualifications from the Institute of Bankers, Damelin Management School, and The University of the Witwatersrand Business School. After over 20 years as a banker, I followed God’s calling and joined the ministry full time. After becoming a pastor of what is now a quite considerable church, I  earned an undergraduate theological qualification from the Baptist Theological College of Southern Africa and post-graduate degrees from two United States institutions. I was also awarded the Doctor of Theology in Systematic Theology from the University of Zululand in 2000.

Four years before that I established the South African Theological Seminary (SATS), which today is represented in over 70 countries and has more than 2 500 active students enrolled with it. I presently play an role supervising Masters and Doctoral students.

I am a passionate champion of the Christocentric or Christ-centred Principle, an approach to biblical interpretation and theological construction that emphasises the centrality of Jesus

I have been happily married to Patricia since the age of 20, have two children, Lance and Karen, a daughter-in-law Tracey, and granddaughters Jessica and Kirsten. I have now retired from both church and seminary leadership and devote my time to writing, discipling, and the classical guitar.

If you would like to read my testimony to Jesus then click HERE.