Hello, I'm Liam!
I’m an Anglo-Australian living in Sydney, with a passion for theology and Avatar the Last Airbender. I’m the Uniting Church in Australia Chaplain at Macquarie University, and am completing an MDiv through Pilgrim Theological College. I live with my wife Heather, our daughter Shoshanna, my brother Tim, sister Hannah, and a dog named Zeus who’s afraid of thunder.
About the Podcast...
Love Rinse Repeat is a (fortunately non-visual) window into the conversations I rehearse in the shower while I am preparing for discussions that will (most likely) never eventuate. Sometimes it’s helpful to invite other voices into these rehearsals, hence the podcast. Love Rinse Repeat is a cultivation of conversations with theologians, practitioners, and miscellaneous church folk to help promote a theology with the blinders off. What you hear/read isn’t some set-in-stone final and decisive decree on faith and its expression. Rather, you’re overhearing a conversational practice run, which just happened to lovingly find its way online, but will certainly need to be rinsed and repeated before we’re through. That way, if, like Job’s friends, we have to stand before the whirlwind to answer for our words, we can say, “it was just a practice."
This post develops a proposal for a role of doctrine in a post-Christendom, global church. It explores writings by George Lindbeck and Kevin Vanhoozer, arguing their contributions restrict the potential for translation through calls to unity. To move forward I engage the function of doctrine, drawing on James H Cone and Ellen T Charry. They show doctrine needs to be transformative, meeting people in their contexts and drawing them into the mission of God. Finally I examine the potential of the role of doctrine as translation; a process empowering both the renewing and rebirth of past expressions of doctrine, and the emergence of entirely new forms built on the endless array of communal and individual experiences of God.
“Doctrine should do something. It should compel the Christian, drawing them into, or sustaining them through, the struggle for liberation and freedom for the oppressed.”
I spoke with Austen Hartke, author of the new book: Transforming: the Bible and the Lives of Transgender Christians. It is a wonderful book, and this discussion gives a great insight into why it is so essential for our times. We talk about what it is like to write a book with helplines in the back, how conversations and the stories of others shape a theological work, what Biblical story Austen would turn into a movie, why the book centres on Biblical studies/exegesis, the connection of experience between Eunuchs in the ancient world and Transgender Christians today, the importance of the body in the New Testament, and a life lived beyond apologetics. Listen in iTunes
In Scripture naming has a transformative power, it often reflects an encounter or expectation. This post explores four scenes involving naming (Moses and the burning bush, Hagar and El Roi, Jacob becoming Israel, and Simon becoming Peter).
For we who encounter God, we too receive a transformed name – not necessarily in a literal sense like Peter (though that is the case for some) – but our name, our identity, our history and future is transformed by being conformed, swept up, in the life of Christ, in the history and future of God. We don’t lose our particularity, any more than Peter did, but we are drawn into the mystery of God and sent on God’s way – sent on the way of God who hears the cry of the oppressed, and sees the abandoned.
I interviewed W. Travis McMaken about his book Our God Loves Justice: an introduction to Helmut Gollwitzer. We talk about the Gollwitzer movie Travis would pitch, Dialectical Theology, Socialism (this is a great section), Revolution, writing theology in an online community, and, we play a game of Conceptual Lightning Round... have you ever wanted tweetable definitions of Dialectical Theology, Socialism, the Kingdom of God, and non-objectifiability? We got you covered. Listen in iTunes
I sat down with Mark Gregory Karris to talk about his new book "Divine Echoes: Reconciling Prayer with the Uncontrolling Love of God". We discuss his reconstructed view of petitionary prayer based on his belief in an uncontrolling God of love. We talk about the issues with the status quo of petitionary prayer, the idea of conspiring prayer (as dialogue with God), and how all of this calls us into the work of justice and shalom. Listen in iTunes
If any prayer helps bring God's justice or shalom, that's just beautiful to me...
Part one identified the problematic way revelation has been conflated with Scripture, and how the Bible has been forced to serve as an epistemic ground for all other Christian doctrines. I offered a way of untangling Scripture and revelation and hinted at the importance of imagination. This concluding piece explores the compatibility of revelation and imagination, the role of imagination in the canonising of tradition, and the importance of imagination in the ongoing reception of revelation. The goal is to continually tie revelation back to God's communicative self-disclosure for the purposes of converting human imagination to the missio Dei, and to develop a non-competitive, complementary account of revelation that benefits rather than is threatened by cross-cultural encounter.
If imagination limits revelation, then different imaginative worlds (in different cultures or historical epochs) set different limits. The shifting imaginative borders of cross-cultural encounters provide greater imaginative potential to receive, interpret, and remember God’s gracious self-communication. This allows for a non-competitive relationship between Scripture and revelation in different times and places outside of the history of Israel and the Church.
Doctrine in the wake of the Reformation(s) and Enlightenment(s) has witnessed both the conflation of revelation and Scripture, and, relatedly, the use of Scripture as epistemic grounding for all subsequent theological claims. A corollary of this movement is that Scripture tends to be discussed outside of its role in the economy of salvation and missio Dei. This births manifold problems, which must be addressed when seeking to develop an account of revelation, Scripture, and imagination. This post, and part two tomorrow seek to unpack these problems and offer a constructive and non-competitive way of accounting for the relationship between revelation, Scripture, and imagination.
"The soteriological purposes of revelation require more flexibility than many contemporary doctrinal formulations allow. Therefore it is helpful to stress that revelation is God’s communication to humankind. Communication makes space for flexibility because it is concerned with the impact of its content not the protection of its form."
This is a double feature. The first interview is with Pastor Sandra Dumas, the second, her husband, Pastor William Dumas. They are the Senior Pastors of Ganggalah Church and leaders of Ganggalah Training Centre and Ganggalah Aboriginal Arts.
Pastor Sandra is the first Indigenous female pastor ordained in New South Wales through Australian Christian Churches and is carving new ground for Indigenous women within Australia. Pastor William is the chairman of the ACCNI (Australian Christian Churches National Indigenous Initiative). LISTEN IN iTUNES
"God's theology is to set people free" Ps. William Dumas
If I were writing a book about my work as a chaplain it could be suitably titled All The Things I've Tried That Failed. In this post I search for a different way of measuring my (our) participation in the mission of God. Exploring Moses, who the Lord knew face to face; Paul, who came in gentleness; and Christ, who set the bar at love - there's a way of 'measuring' the Christian life that subverts and redeems all manner of downward slanting graphs.
To love God and love neighbour is to be drawn beyond ourselves and our own interests – it is, first, to seek fully and forever after a God who is both entirely beyond and within. It is to praisefully devote ourselves to the hidden and invisible God who we can know intimately. It is to experience and allow ourselves to be transformed by the Spirit of fire, without being consumed, without forfeiting agency. It is, second, to seek fully and forever after the interests of our neighbours who cannot be contained, controlled, or categorised. It is to joyfully commit ourselves to their flourishing and liberation, affirming their humanity as made in the image and likeness of God. It is to experience and allow ourselves to be converted by these encounters, without ever losing the confidence that who we are, as fearfully and wonderfully made, is, when coming to rest in God, enough
The problem with the mainline is we have an insular theology, but we do not follow an insular God...
This is the Saturday night session from our weekend Political Populism and a Theological Response. Here John Flett picks up the theological challenge of populism (explored in the first two sessions) and proposes an alternative focused on the political stance of a community which finds its identity as it moves beyond itself. Recorded Nov 4, at Epping Uniting Church. LISTEN IN iTUNES
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