Hi! Who are you and what do you do?
My name is Mike Higton. I’m Professor of Theology and Ministry at Durham University – but I don’t spend that much time in university lecture halls and seminar rooms. My main role is helping to run the ‘Common Awards’ partnership, overseeing academic standards for a load of theological colleges and courses around the country. Normally, that means a lot of time on trains. More recently, for obvious reasons, it has meant countless Zoom meetings.
What’s your Grove booklet about?
I see it as exploring the whole idea of this new series of Grove books on doctrine. Why is it worth thinking and talking about doctrine – and what is doctrine anyway? I ask why Christians first started thinking about doctrine, how doctrinal theology relates to the Bible, and what good doctrinal theology might be able to contribute to the life of the church.
What’s the big idea you hope readers will take away?
Knowing lots of doctrinal theology doesn’t itself mean that you know God better than other believers – but knowing doctrinal theology can nevertheless help you to know God better. I know that sounds like a paradox, but I hope the book manages to explain it.
How do you think doctrine can change your life?
Doctrinal theology explores the ideas that are needed to tell the story of God and God’s ways with the world. It asks how these ideas connect, what flows from them, what they rule in and what they rule out. It can warn believers about certain pitfalls, and it can offer them new or forgotten patterns of thought and imagination. At its best, it can help people grasp the love God has for them, and the love they are called to have for God and neighbour.
What’s your prayer for the grove Doctrine series?
My prayer for the series is that it will support wise discipleship, by helping believers to imagine and inhabit the love of God more richly. And I pray that, as it does so, it will help a wide range of people see the role that can be played in the life of the church by doctrinal theology, and encourage them to explore it for themselves.