Friday, 4 August 2006

An interview

Steven Harris has interviewed me about faith and theological studies.

5 Comments:

Michael Westmoreland-White said...

Nothing brilliant here, I just noticed that no one had said anything. So, lest you think the cruel, uncaring, world is oblivious, I thought it was a good interview.

Michael. said...

Ben,

Enjoyed your interview, and am now jealous that you are yet so young! Like you, I started off in a very fundamentalist type pentecostal church and over the years have journeyed towards a greater understanding of gospel and kingdom and the utter centrality of Jesus Christ. For me also, this journey has been an enriching one of joy and discovery. And Barth in recent years has become my chief guide for this journey. I am in the throes of completing my doctorate on his vision / understanding of Christian and ecclesial life in his early period, 1915-22.

Which brings me to the main reason for this comment - a personal response to question four. I never anticipated returning to pastoral ministry after the completion of my doctorate. Two years ago, however, I found myself with a very definite leading to return to the pastorate, resulting in a call to serve in a local baptist church. My ministry now, however, is far richer than previously. For me, theology must be for the sake of the church - the real church of the local congregation ministering in the real context of the local community. I have come to believe that theology and theologians who become distanced from this context are threatened with abstracting the gospel and theological knowledge, and thus of losing its truthfulness. The truth of Christ, of the gospel, of theological knowledge must surely find its telos and fulfillment in the real existence of the community - that Christ be formed in us, in other words. Of course our apprehension of this truth is always contingent, hopefully growing and contextualising, but lived and finding expression in the community of faith nonetheless.

I find hope and take comfort in the fact that the greatest theologians of the Christian era have been those grounded in the church, its community and ministry.

Shalom.

kim fabricius said...

Hi Michael.

Your words are Mozart to my ears! Ben and I have had several e-mail conversations about the theologian and the local community. I myself resisted the lure ino the academy - or even into doing a doctorate (even Colin Gunton failed to persuade me with the promise of his own supervision!). I reckoned seven years of university life was enough. I'd got the tools, now deploy them as a "theologian of the local community", i.e. as a pastor and college chaplain. There is too much theological illiteracy among ministers - and too much "Earth to University, Earth to University, come in please" - in the academy.

What a joy that you have now clarified your own vocation; every blessing in your future work.

Kim

Michael said...

Thank you Kim, for your kind words.

Personally, I am not sure I would have been able to resist the lure of the academy - perhaps it is grace that the call to the pastorate preceded the completion of the doctorate...

Michael.

c said...

Curious that if an opportunity to travel back in time arose, you would rather visit a theologian than Christ himself. I suppose if you think about it we can spend eternity getting to know them both better.

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