Friday, 10 September 2010

Audio talk: the risen Christ and Christian scholarship

One of my recent conference papers is available in audio (27 minutes). The paper is titled "Discerning Christ in Contemporary Thought: The Christological Basis of Christian Scholarship". It was a conference on the Uniting Church's founding confession, the Basis of Union. I talked about the way Christ's resurrection shapes the way we think about the church, and about the scholarly vocation (and I tried to criticise both liberal and conservative approaches to theological scholarship). Here's an excerpt:

Scholarship is an exercise of obedience to Jesus Christ. It helps prepare the church for fresh words and deeds. Of course, we need not imagine that scholarship will always have an immediate impact on the church’s confession. But scholarship is nevertheless vital for the continuing life of the church. It is one of the places where the church exercises its muscle of discernment – a muscle that otherwise has an alarming tendency to atrophy. Or to change metaphors: when the church grows drowsy, scholarship diffuses its caffeinating influence, helping to keep us ready, watchful and alert. So when Christian scholars engage with contemporary thought, it’s not because the church needs protecting from the world, but because Christ is already in the world and he calls us to meet him there.
This is the second paper I've written this year on the Basis of Union (which I would really encourage you to read: it's a remarkable confessional text, deeply shaped by Barth, Bonhoeffer, and the Barmen Declaration). It really surprises me how much I've enjoyed these first excursions into "official" denominational theology, even though I'm always anxious to avoid this sort of thing in my classroom teaching. I'm already planning to do another couple of papers on the Basis of Union, hopefully one on scripture and another on church law.


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