Ibrahim Sobkennenso Bitrus Author of Evaluating Organization Development

Ibrahim Sobkennenso Bitrus

Nigerian Theologian in Residence
Minneapolis Area Synod of the ELCA

Nigerian Theologian in Residence for the Minneapolis Area Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) Minneapolis, Minnesota United States of America

Subjects: Religion


I was born and raised in northern Nigeria. Having received my NCE (associate degree) from the College of Education Hong, I taught social studies, Christianity and government classes at a secondary school. During this time, I also served as a volunteer coordinator for the Fellowship of Christian Students (FCS), but I felt God was calling me to do more. So after teaching for seven years, I went to study at the Theological College of Northern Nigeria (TCNN), where I received Bachelor in Divinity and Master’s of Theology degrees. I thereafter accepted a teaching position at the Bronnum Lutheran Seminary, Yola where I taught for four years (2006-2010). I also served as a faculty secretary and assistant Dean of Studies at Bronnum. I got accepted into the Ph.D. program in systematic theology at Luther Seminary, St. Paul, Minnesota, in 2010. The ELCA Global Mission Leadership and Lutheran World Federation gave me a scholarship with a commitment to return to Nigeria after the program. I graduated in 2015. Since then I have been serving as the Nigerian Theologian in Residence for the Minneapolis Area Synod of the ELCA. In this capacity, I serve as a link between the Lutheran Church of Christ in Nigeria (LCCN) and its companion congregations within and outside the Minneapolis Synod Area, a visiting preacher and the teacher of the Word of God to churches within and outside the Synod and speaker at adult forums about the LCCN and Muslim-Christian relations/conflicts in Nigeria. My plan is to return to Nigeria and resume my position as a professor of theology at Bronnum Lutheran Seminary Yola.

Public Commitments of My Christian Faith
In a context of subtle institutional and terroristic persecution of northern Nigeria, developing a public theology that engages systemic evil, poverty and bad government is an important implication of my Christian faith commitment. For me, developing mere abstract theology is not worth doing. I would argue that doing Christian theology without ethics is useless and vice versa, doing Christian ethics without theology is baseless. I therefore, believe in a transformative public theological enterprise.

My Philosophy of Education and Teaching
Education is not simply a transmission of abstract knowledge, values, and ideas; it must find practical application in real-life situations. Mere abstract education detached from real life is not worth acquiring. In many ways, it is practically useless. Christian liberal arts institutions of learning often pride themselves on the integration of theory and practice in education. Education in a Christian liberal arts setting must integrate Christian faith and learning in the curriculum to produce graduates who go into society with sound biblical values and a viewpoint of knowledge, life, and destiny. As integrated education, Education must enable faculty and students to acquire the capacity to deal with burning ultimate and existential issues facing society and the Christian church. Integrating the three essential components of theological education—academic, spiritual and ministerial formation—into a holistic training is key. Education in a Christian liberal arts context must empower and promote a participatory system of teaching-learning, according to which the chapel and classroom are equal centers of education, so that students integrate the knowledge of the head with the knowledge of real-life situations. Therefore, education in the context of Christian liberal arts needs to be inter-disciplinary, integrating theological education that is Bible-based and Triune-God centered with the liberal arts subjects toward a holistic education for the training of the mind, body and spirit.
But teaching-learning is not a passive process where students are treated merely as “bank accounts” into which professors deposit knowledge. The students are active learners who take initiative and assume personal responsibility for participating in the learning process by reflecting, analyzing, questioning, critiquing, and reconstructing the knowledge transmitted to them. The professor simply promotes and facilitates this participatory learning process. This teacher-student mutually interactive process of teaching-learning is an integral part of the theory and practice of education in Christian liberal arts setting. As one of the pillars on which an excellent Christian liberal arts education is built, I would ague that the entire pedagogy of teaching-learning in a Christian institution of higher learning stands or falls with this participatory principle of learning.

Areas of Research / Professional Expertise

    My research interests are the doctrine of the Triune God, Neo-Pentecostalism and Public Theology.

Personal Interests



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 Featured Title - Community and Trinity in Africa - Bitrus - 1st Edition book cover



The Means of Prosperity: The Neo‐Pentecostal Interpretation of the Lord's Supper

Published: Dec 06, 2016 by Dialog
Authors: Ibrahim S. Bitrus
Subjects: Religion

This article investigates the Nigerian neo-Pentecostal reinterpretation of the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper using the lens of the prosperity gospel. Describing the neo-Pentecostal view of prosperity as an integral part of salvation, and how this impacts its hermeneutics of the Lord’s Supper as the means of prosperity, the paper argues that such neo-Pentecostal reinterpretation does not distort the traditional significance of the Lord’s Supper, but expands and complements it.

Word & World

The Persecution of the Church in Northern Nigeria: A Theological Response

Published: Sep 22, 2016 by Word & World
Authors: Ibrahim S. Bitrus
Subjects: Religion

This article describes the subtle institutional and terroristic persecution of the church in northern Nigeria. It argues that rather than destroying the faith of the church, the persecution has made that faith even stronger and more robust than ever.

On Secular Government: Lutheran Perspectives on Contemporary Legal Issues

Disturbing Unjust Peace in Nigeria through the Church and Legal Reforms

Published: Mar 03, 2016 by On Secular Government: Lutheran Perspectives on Contemporary Legal Issues
Authors: Ibrahim S. Bitrus
Subjects: Religion

In this essay, I analyze the context for Nigeria’s unjust peace, including the current abuses of the rule of law in the country. I argue that Luther’s critical public theology provides Nigerian churches and legal reformers with a solid basis for disturbing such an unjust peace in Nigeria.

Journal of Gudina Tumsa Theological Forum

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, A Living Dead in Africa

Published: Feb 03, 2016 by Journal of Gudina Tumsa Theological Forum
Authors: Ibrahim S. Bitrus
Subjects: Religion

Though Dietrich Bonhoeffer had little or no contact with Africa during his lifetime, his life and theological legacy wields enormous influence on the continent’s theology and context. Thus, Bonhoeffer is what we Africans would call one of the “living dead” whose life and thought continually impinge on all spheres of life in the continent. This article examines such enduring impact of Bonheoffer’s life and theo-ethical thought in Africa with specific examples from South Africa.

Word & World

An “Absence of God” from Public Life? The Disconnect between Faith and Life

Published: Jun 21, 2013 by Word & World
Authors: Ibrahim S. Bitrus
Subjects: Religion

God only appears to be absent in Nigerian public life, because of the presence of many corrupt leaders and the failure of the church to challenge them. The lack of public involvement of the church is denial not only of the goodness of creation and incarnation but also of Christ himself.

TCNN Research Bulletin

The Theology of the Cross: A Stumbling Block to the Neo-Pentecostal Gospel

Published: Mar 05, 2013 by TCNN Research Bulletin
Authors: Ibrahim S. Bitrus
Subjects: Religion

Describing the Neo-Pentecostal gospel, which not only perceives God in prosperity, but also preaches salvation is deliverance from poverty, disease, and evil powers, I argue that Luther’s theology of the cross, which perceives God in the cross and suffering rather prosperity, is a stumbling block to the Neo-Pentecostal gospel in Nigeria.

Lutherans Respond to Pentecostalism

The Influence of Neo-Pentecostalism in Nigeria

Published: Dec 03, 2008 by Lutherans Respond to Pentecostalism
Authors: Ibrahim S. Bitrus
Subjects: Religion

This essay analyzes the irresistible and immense influence of the Neo-Pentecostalism in Nigeria with specific reference to the Lutheran Churches in Nigeria.