At the moment, my study/research/writing/praying/thinking about/pondering of theological themes is going rather well.
In light of this, I’ve got two papers to present, within a fortnight of each other, in different places and on different themes that are important to me.
Firstly – and most controversially – I’ll be presenting within the Church, Theology and Ministry seminar stream of the Society for the Study of Theology (SST) Conference in Nottingham. Held – rather brilliantly, from the point of view of myself – at my alma-mater, The University of Nottingham, SST is a long-running and deeply thoughtful conference. I’m excited to be presenting a paper on ‘leadership’, variously understood, with reference to my current ecclesial context. I reproduce the abstract below, and will publish my paper online after the conference:
Everyone gets to play? A Vineyard perspective on on ministry and mission
Unlike many traditional/historical denominations and church movements, the Vineyard (which is a relatively young movement) does not have a clearly defined or expressed theological basis, beyond a commitment to the Kingdom of God, and five core values. Much of the theological content of the movement is expressed in aphorisms, often coined by John Wimber, one of the movement’s founders, which shape the way that the ministry and mission of churches that identify as ‘Vineyard’ is carried out.
One of the best known of these aphorisms is ‘Everyone gets to play’, often interpreted and applied as relating to the ‘doing’ of ministry. In the UK, the Vineyard movement is a growing network of established churches and church plants, with a high number of ‘lay’ leaders, a considerable trend towards bivocational ministry, and an active orientation towards ministry and mission. This paper explores whether the Vineyard aphorism of ‘Everyone gets to play’ might offer inspiration and a model for other churches to release and empower a new generation of servant leaders.
With the above in mind, I’m looking forward to spending time with Nottingham friends, praying, and generally enjoying being back in a place we used to live.
Secondly – and close to my intended trajectories of research – is a paper that I look forward to presenting at the London School of Theology Research Conference, (do book a ticket via eventbrite!) which is thinking about a vital question: “”. As a systematic theologian (broadly speaking) I expect I’ll be like the metaphorical Daniel in a Lion’s den (LST is known for it’s New Testament/Biblical studies emphasis, and I’m trying to connect these), as I present a paper close to my heart, and also dangerously close to considering who the earthly person and power of Jesus is:
‘The Site of the polarity: The Incarnation Paradox as Pauline Anthropology’
Throughout his letters Paul is keen to stress the importance of the incarnation to the economics of salvation. The person of Christ – the Image of the Invisible God, as Paul puts it in Colossians 1:15 – is the essential, vital locus of what it means to be human. Here, we find the roots and foundations of a Pauline Anthropology. To know Christ, Paul tells us in Philippians 3, is the most important goal of human life. Yet who is Christ, is the inherent question of the New Testament? This challenge is made clear by Luke, but haunts the Pauline corpus in such a way as to force us to consider what Paul means by humanity; what is ultimately his anthropology.
The language of personhood haunts discussion of Christ’s impact on being human. Whether we attempt to follow Paul, Luke or go beyond the New Testament into the early church, we cannot escape from the question of what it means to be human. A truly Pauline anthropology will take seriously the Doctrine of the Incarnation alongside the historical and socio-religious context of Paul’s mission. Melick gives us a helpful reference in his commentary: “In his work toward us as revealer of God, he manifests God to us. In his work toward creation, he is prominent over it” – demonstrating the paradox of this, the God who is both in and over, with and for, creation.
Presenting papers at theological conferences, hearing and learning from others, and thinking deeply about the things that Jesus is speaking about, has been something I’ve really enjoyed over the past few years. I’m excited about these two opportunities – and looking forward to the conversation.