Some Theological Thoughts from 2018

Vineyard Theology

From time to time I’m fortunate to be in spaces and places that I find simultaneously very enjoyably and utterly terrifying. Other times, I find myself at academic theological conferences, of various kinds, presenting papers. I’m keen to keep my academic eye in – reading and writing – in between studying my MA and whatever might (or might not!) be next, and I also love digging deep into things in order to really think through important stuff.

2018 has been a good year for theological conferences for me personally. As well as being back at the Society of Vineyard Scholars (This year in Kentucky, previously I’d been in 2013/14/15) I was also privileged to present a paper at the Society for the Study of Theology’s 2018 Conference at the University of Nottingham, and also at the London School of Theology’s 2018 Research Conference. The four papers I presented (two at SVS, one each at the others) represent some of my major areas of interest, and an attempt to think theologically about some deep fundamentals and also some more pragmatic and practical issues. Briefly, with links, I’ll summarise the papers, and I’d love to know your thoughts on what I’ve written if you can bear to read them. I reproduce these below in chronological order, and hope that someone somewhere finds them useful:

Everyone gets to play? A Vineyard perspective on ministry and mission

I presented this paper in the ministry and mission seminar stream, and chose the topic because I think there is a tension between the popular Vineyard aphorism ‘everyone gets to play’, and the reality of leadership in a fallen world. Drawing on Vineyard voices and theological resources from around the church, I reflected on what ‘everyone’ might mean, and the tension between ‘play’ and ‘lead’. I close by offering a trio of tentative suggestions for what this Vineyard value could offer to the wider church.

The Site of the Polarity: The Incarnation Paradox as Pauline Anthropology

This paper was my attempt, as a ‘baby systematic theologian’ to do a bit of biblical theology. Drawing on the letters of Paul as theological texts for an anthropological project (my major theological interest is in understanding and articulating what it means to be human) I brought in the eschatolgoical motif of the Kingdom of God as a method for understanding the paradox of Jesus as the God/Man. I closed by offering a trio of possible reflections for ministry and mission.

Where are you church? An Invitation to a Vineyard Theology of Place

The first of my two SVS 2018 papers was this one, a systematic theological exploration of themes of ecclesiology and place. Moving from a brief but geographically informed discussion of the roots and growth of the Vineyard movement, I introduced the concept of ‘holy places’ in relation to church planting, before drawing in some key lessons from theological anthropology to offer an attempt to answer the question. The language of invitation, I hope, is threaded through the whole of the paper, and it closes with an invitation to more.

Being Vineyard, Being Evangelical: An English Perspective

The second of my SVS 2018 papers was a provocative attempt at articulating and constructing an understanding of Vineyard ecclesial identity as being firmly part of evangelicalism. This paper was presented in a very enjoyable panel with another English Vineyard scholar, who took the opposing view. This paper argues that being Vineyard and being Evangelical are intimately intertwined, and that an appropriate response to challenges to the suitability of the evangelical moniker should actually be to celebrate and re-articulate what that label means.

As ever, I’d value your comments on any of these papers. You can also see some of the background to them, and similar thoughts in a different direction, over at my profile.

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