Festival of Theology programme: 30th Jan 2018

There has been a great response to the idea of holding a Psephizo Festival of Theology at the end of January, and I received a good number of offers of papers, from which I have selected the ones below. Andy Tufnell, recently appointed vicar of Christchurch, Chilwell (on the west side of Nottingham), has also been very supportive and encouraging, and Christchurch are very excited to host the event.

The formal programme will start at 10.30 am and end at 3.30 pm, but there will be coffee from 10 am, and you will be very welcome to stay on for further conversation and engagement. The format will be fast moving, with presentations of 15 minutes and time for questions at the end of each one. There will be tea and coffee on arrival and at the close, and a light buffet lunch supplied. Tickets can be booked through Eventbrite; the ticket price of £15 is designed to cover costs but nothing more. Parking is in the nearby streets.


Ian Paul: Introduction: the role of social media in learning, training and discipleship

Edward Pillar: Jesus, Justice, and The Desert Testings: Seeking a Context for the Temptations of Jesus

Each of the temptations in the desert – turning stone into bread, jumping from the pinnacle of the temple, and prostration before the tempter  – may be interpreted on the one hand as a critique of the injustices perpetrated by the ruling Jewish authorities and on the other an unveiling of divine justice that is made explicit in the life of Jesus.

Jo Leatherland: Personality and reading Scripture

How do our personality types affect how we view the Bible? Do we naturally gravitate towards certain styles of Scripture, books and verses? How does the ‘personality’ of  churches/denominations/streams have create a lens on how they view Scripture? How subjective are we being even when we are trying to be objective and rational? For each of us,  our ‘inheritance’ in terms of upbringing and culture creates the ‘boiled frog’ syndrome, so unless we intentionally engage with Christians from other denominations and theological stances we will never face up to our blind spots, prejudices and assumptions.

Mat Sheffield: Children of the Apocalypse

What do we observe about the way children, particularly younger teenagers (aged 11-16) interact with and engage with the text of Revelation? How do they cope with the imagery, what is resonant in the text to the them, what preconceptions do they have, what barriers do we (teachers/preachers) create (if we do?) and how can we make this vital text in the New Testament more accessible to younger people?

David Shepherd: Theological reflections on male-female complementarity

What are the issues arising from the question of male-female complementarity in dominical, apostolic and patristic teaching? How do these relate to the question of Gnostic dualism? What are the dangers of male/female stereotypes and the problems with a complementarity ‘essentialism’? Does a ‘missional complementarity’ provide a better alternative to the current misuse of Trinitarian theology in this area?


Tim Davy: Missional reading of the Bible

Recent developments in missional hermeneutics have blown wide open the ways in which we can read biblical texts in the light of God’s mission. In this paper I will use the book of Job as a test case to demonstrate the fruitfulness of a missional approach to Scripture and its application to ministry.

Eve Ridgeway: Mission strategy and effectiveness

In Clashing Symbols, Michael Paul Gallagher’s offers four groupings of ‘culturally rooted unbelief’  in contemporary culture. We need to respond to these by being bold in mission, surprising (both in personality as Christians/Christian ministers and place and presence) and imaginative in the ways in which we respond to culture. Case studies from two churches show what effective, imaginative and surprising mission initiatives might look like.

Alastair Roberts: Virtue Ethics in a social media age

Our understanding of the self, and consequently our ethical practice, is re-framed by social media. The online self, weakly affiliated, distracted, decontextualized and deracinated, functioning in flattened out, yet socially saturated and heavily surveilled contexts, hyper-performative in its modes of identity, etc. is a peculiar sort of ethical subject. If we don’t reflect upon the nature of this subject and how it is formed and sustained, we will struggle to understand why we act in the way that we do, or how we might change.

John Allister: “What has Wall Street to do with Jerusalem?” Secular leadership thinking in mission, theology and church

The use of secular leadership thinking in theology and training in the church is both widespread and widely contested. The author of Proverbs extensively appropriates the pagan Wisdom of Amenemope; does this provide us with a model for how we can engage with secular leadership thinking, and offer a fruitful way forwards in our own debates? This will be explored with particular application to the idea of every member ministry.

Concluding reflection

Do make this known to others who might be interested. Book your tickets now!


Car: The venue is only five minutes from junction 25 on the M1.

Train: Come to Beeston Station, which is 15 minutes walk or 3 minutes by car from the venue.

Plane: It is a 15 minute drive or 30 minute bus ride (Skylink) from East Midlands airport.

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5 thoughts on “Festival of Theology programme: 30th Jan 2018”

  1. “deracinated” is now my word of the day, and I intend to use it before sundown. Thanks Alistair for that one. On a less trivial note, may I just ask if this is being recorded at all, be it audio-only or full video?


    • Glad to have supplied you with your word for the day!

      I am sure we will do something about recording. There might even be the chance to do a live Facebook stream…but I wouldn’t want to say anything just now which might discourage people from coming in person!

      I am *hoping* that the different contributions might then be posted as guest blog posts…!


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