The Festival of Theology: 30th Jan 2018

One of the things I love about writing a blog is the fascinating interactions with the equally fascinating people who contribute to debate on social media and in the blog comments. So I have decided to host a one-day Festival of Theology on Tuesday 30th January 2018 here in Nottingham.

The plan will be to listen to 15- to 20-minutes presentations on a range of subjects, with time for response, interaction and discussion. The day will start with coffee at 10.00 am, with the welcome and first presentation at 10.30. With an hour’s break for lunch, we will plan to finish at 3.30 pm, which should allow for around 8 presentations.

The presentations will match the areas that the blog explores—the way the Bible is read and understood within the church, aspects of ministry including preaching, questions of contemporary ethics, and mission strategy and effectiveness. If you would like to offer a presentation, please email me with the subject line Festival of Theology or use the contact form, explaining the area you would like to offer a presentation and what you would be wanting to say. I hope that presentations will be stimulating and provocative—so do feel free to offer something that you think I will disagree with! If there are topics you would like to see covered, please suggest them by commenting below.

There will also be time over coffee and lunch and at the end of the day to meet one another, and I hope it will be a highlight to actually meet in person people that we have been interacting with online.

So put the date in your diary; share with your friends; and think about either offering a presentation yourself or encouraging others to do so! I look forward to seeing you there!

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15 thoughts on “The Festival of Theology: 30th Jan 2018”

  1. I would love to come but train tickets are prohibitively expensive. If anyone is planning on driving up from in or around the Reading area, I’d be happy to split petrol costs. Let me know!

  2. Hi Ian,

    I’m up for it!

    As a lay person, I’m also audacious (or arrogant 🙂 ) enough to express my interest in working with a progressive commenter to co-develop and co-deliver a presentation which succinctly maps out the shape of our theological disagreement.

    Vain hope? Well, maybe.

  3. Great idea and hope to be there. When do tickets go on sale?
    On items for presentation I’d love to see something on Christianity and debt. This is such a wide-ranging problem in our society, and with the key dynamic moving from income to assets it is surely time to review our theological view on this. And our response. And it’s more interesting than gender and sex, which seem to have been done to death over the last few decades.

  4. Dear Ian,
    yes – thanks – I am following your blogs with interest. Please – have you any thoughts on church membership, responsibility and ‘discipline’?
    You may be aware that unlike the Church of England, so far as I understand it, the Methodists require people in roles in the church to be signed up as members. How do we work out the best way of being members of whatever church family we belong to? What if people have a rather ecumenical and evangelical background but their nearest live church happens to be a methodist church, and there are signed up members who are not at ease with non members taking active initiatives and roles within the church family. The non members being devout Christians who work diligently to serve the church and the local community. I would be so interested in hearing some general suggestions on how to work positively together when people strongly disagree!

    • Hi Ros,

      My own experience is that, before anyone participates in active initiatives and roles in CofE lay ministry, the parish would minimally expect that person to consent to be added to the Electoral Roll.

      This contrasts with the more formal Methodist service of Confirmation and Reception into Membership which has survived from the earliest days of the Methodist movement.

      Biblically, your example reminds me of St. Paul’s explanation of how his ministry came to be accepted by the other apostles.

      At the outset of his letter to the Galatians, Paul emphasises the God-given nature of his calling: “Paul, an apostle, (not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead (??Gal.? ?1:1?)

      I think that the affirmation of Paul’s ministry by the church leaders in Jerusalem has considerable similarities to the situation that you describe.

      Instead of being converted to Christ by those apostles, Paul received it, as they had, by direct revelation from Christ.

      When you mention members who are not at ease with the influx of non-members into active roles, I’m also reminded of the Judaizing Christians from Jerusalem whose efforts to impose the Law of Moses on Gentile converts to Christ were also at odds with St. Paul’s teaching, which put Jews and Gentiles on an equal footing.

      Paul’s story provides important lessons about how non-members should be able to win the trust of members in an ecumenical context.

      1. Opportunity to participate
      Synagogues provided opportunity for those outside of the local community to participate. In Acts 13:15, the leaders of the synagogue at Pisidian Antioch gave opportunity for Paul to share his understanding of the faith through ‘the word of exhortation’.

      Even the Jewish leaders in Rome were willing to give Paul a fair hearing, despite knowing that Christianity was ‘everywhere evil spoken of’ (Acts 28:16-22)

      Non-members will remain excluded when such opportunity is stifled by a general fear of outsiders.

      2. Building credibility incrementally with trusted leaders

      After a stint of preaching in the synagogues Syria, Paul’s ministry was introduced to the Antioch church community by Barnabus, a trusted leader from Jerusalem, who had sacrificed his wealth for the gospel.

      Paul worked alongside Barnabus for a whole year and built up enough credibility with those who heard him that, on being warned of future famine by Agabus, the community entrusted him to take their donation to Jerusalem.

      We also know that St. Paul’s mission to the Gentiles was prophetically affirmed in Antioch (Acts 14:2-3)

      Even after seventeen years of apostolic ministry, St. Paul wrote: “And I went up by revelation, and communicated unto them that gospel which I preach among the Gentiles, but privately to them which were of reputation, lest by any means I should run, or had run, in vain.” (Gal. 2:2)

      “And when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we should go unto the heathen, and they unto the circumcision.” (Gal.? ?2:9?)

      So, these points appear to be two biblically sound keys to working positively even when people strongly disagree.


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