Doctrine as Translation

Doctrine as Translation

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.”

LRR Ep16. The Bible and the Lives of Transgender Christians, Austen Hartke

LRR Ep16. The Bible and the Lives of Transgender Christians, Austen Hartke

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

The Transformative Power of Naming

The Transformative Power of Naming

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.  

LRR Ep15. True Socialism and the Kingdom of God, W. Travis McMaken

LRR Ep15. True Socialism and the Kingdom of God, W. Travis McMaken

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

LRR Ep14. Conspiring Prayer with the Uncontrolling Love of God, Mark Karris

LRR Ep14. Conspiring Prayer with the Uncontrolling Love of God, Mark Karris

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...

Forging a Relationship Between Revelation, Scripture, and Imagination (part two)

Forging a Relationship Between Revelation, Scripture, and Imagination (part two)

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.

Forging a Relationship Between Revelation, Scripture, and Imagination (part 1)

Forging a Relationship Between Revelation, Scripture, and Imagination (part 1)

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."

Ep13. Ganggalah, Sandra and William Dumas

Ep13. Ganggalah, Sandra and William Dumas

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

All The Things I've Tried That Failed

All The Things I've Tried That Failed

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

Ep12. Theo-Politics for a Community that Moves Beyond Itself, John Flett

Ep12. Theo-Politics for a Community that Moves Beyond Itself, John Flett

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

Ep11. Apostolicity, World Christianity, & Mission, John Flett

Ep11. Apostolicity, World Christianity, & Mission, John Flett

I recorded this interview with John Flett in Dec 2016 and it centres on John's most recent book, Apostolicity: the Ecumenical Question in World Christian Perspective. But we cover a lot! His book on Apostolicity (hint: we start with what that word means), how it shakes out in conversations regarding diversity of structural expressions in world Christianity, the difficulty/danger of perceiving the church as a culture (hint: colonisation), the US election, understanding properly the colonial period of mission (hint: its about the sending churches), non-missionary mission, how the ignoring of mission is actually a way of avoiding external critique, the voiceless Jesus of Christmas, the persistent focus on "dying churches" in the Australia and the counterpoint of migrant and multicultural churches.... are you getting the picture? We cover a lot. LISTEN IN iTUNES.

Ep10. Populism and a Theological Response, John Flett

Ep10. Populism and a Theological Response, John Flett

In this interview (from January 2017) I talk with John Flett about theology and mission in the wake of Trump, populism in its current form, the way Christians just wanted to "win" and so refused to yield power, interdisciplinary approaches, mission studies, "racism and the evangelical vote", #WTFtheology (aka: John's proudest achievement), and how mission (a non-America-First understanding of mission) can help counter this growing nationalist, populist tide. - this was in the lead up to the first run of his course, Political Populism and a Theological Response, earlier this year at Pilgrim Theological College. LISTEN IN iTUNES

"If you yourself are not ready to be converted, then you are not engaging in the discussion"

Ep09. Wounding Words (Loving Jesus/Fearing Scripture), Emmy Kegler.

Ep09. Wounding Words (Loving Jesus/Fearing Scripture), Emmy Kegler.
"Taking what has been used as a sword, and turning it into a ploughshare" 

A special episode. Because this postal survey on marriage equality is taking a toll on so many. This is Emmy Kegler's talk and Q&A from the Jesus 12 24 online conference hosted earlier in the year. If I sound weird its because I'd been awake for about 23 hours. See more about the conference at Jesus1224.com

"Too many members of the LGBTQ+ community know Scripture best as a weapon used against us.  How do those of us who still find Jesus compelling reconcile ourselves with the book that tells his story, when that same book has been used to condemn us?  When we have been wounded by the words of the Bible, can we still find healing in the Word of God?" LISTEN IN iTUNES

Ep08. The God Who (Still) Saves, David Congdon

Ep08. The God Who (Still) Saves, David Congdon

David Congdon's excellent The God Who Saves: a Dogmatic Sketch came out almost a year ago. We talked about the book then, and today, in this episode we revisit the work. We talk about the book, its reception, the impact its made on David's life this last year. We also talk about the contemporary US context (and evangelicalism within that). LISTEN in iTunes

“I wrote the book for those wanderers, those exiles from the Christian tradition, who have been marginalised, oppressed, and abused by the church… yet are desperately in pursuit of some meaning and connection which would take them beyond themselves.”

It is also a written to say to Christians, "If you want to demonstrate your fidelity to Jesus Christ, you need to abandon the assumption that your church structure and traditions have exclusive grasp of the truth, and you need to ally yourself with those who have been marginalised by the church. Only that way, will you conform to Christ and live into the faith you're called to live into. In that way, its a call, to Christians, to put their Christianity at risk"

Ep07. Womanist Midrash, Wil Gafney

Ep07. Womanist Midrash, Wil Gafney

I sat down with Wil Gafney to talk about her new book Womanist Midrash: A Reintroduction to the Women of the Torah and the Throne. We discuss what drew her to the Hebrew Bible, play some conceptual lightning round, ask her which woman from her book needs a major motion picture, discuss translation, the future of Womanist biblical studies, what its like to write a Biblical commentary, how the Hebrew Bible emphasis on remembering can inform contemporary debates about monuments and history, and I introduce a new segment centred on Amazon reviews... we talk about a LOT, and its a whole bunch of fun. Listen in iTunes

A Responsible Christianity

A Responsible Christianity

With my work with the Uniting Church Chaplaincy at Macquarie University we have been exploring the idea of a responsible theology - an expression of the faith which is responsible to the world we find ourselves.

"Because, and this has long been pointed out, too much theology is irresponsible. Theologies of submission and sacrifice have guilted too many women into staying in abusive relationships. Theologies of God as powerful monarch have made synonymous the good character of God with the virtues and traits of white male authoritative figures. Too many sermons on salvation as rescue have fostered utilitarian and anthropocentric views toward the non-human world. And this doesn’t mean that we can’t talk about, for example, Christ’s sacrificial and self-giving love, it just means that we should keep in mind the dangers and walk the path responsibly, offering the odd caveat or clarification."

Ep06. Postcolonialism & Biblical Ethics, Mark Brett

Ep06. Postcolonialism & Biblical Ethics, Mark Brett

I interviewed Mark G. Brett, the Professor of Old Testament and Research Coordinator at Whitley College, part of the University of Divinity, to talk about his recent book POLITICAL TRAUMA & HEALING: BIBLICAL ETHICS FOR A POSTCOLONIAL WORLD. 

We cover a lot! We do a conceptual rapid fire round, getting tweetable definitions for a host of complex terms. We talk about what postcolonialism offers conversations around secular democracy and human rights, we address the church, and its habit to fall into ethno-centrism, Mark explores how we begin to begin with Aboriginal voices, and the last 10 minutes is a can't miss discussion on economics and Biblical ethics! Listen in iTunes

Ep05. Race, Faith, & Comedy, Jonathan Braylock

Ep05. Race, Faith, & Comedy, Jonathan Braylock
“Comedy can teach us to let go a little bit and think about things in a new way, allow God to change us so we’re not stuck in one setting. I do that specifically with race right now.”

I talked with comedian and actor Jonathan Braylock, cohost of the excellent Black Men Can't Jump (in Hollywood) Podcast. We discuss the podcast, diversity in Hollywood, trends and tropes in movies with Black leads. We also talk about his faith, comedy, and what a good laugh can teach the life of faith. And loads of other good stuff. Listen in iTunes

Ep04. Challenging Racism in Church & Culture, Brandi Miller & Drew Hart

Ep04. Challenging Racism in Church & Culture, Brandi Miller & Drew Hart

How are we to be Christian in the face of white supremacy... 

In the wake of Charlottesville this is a special "from the vault double feature". Two interviews from last year with Brandi Miller and Drew Hart talking a black Jesus in a white church/society. These are powerful interviews that can be great resources in the ongoing resistance to white supremacy in the church and culture. Listen in iTunes

LRR Ep03. Indigenous Art, Spirituality, and Faith, Narelle Urquhart

LRR Ep03. Indigenous Art, Spirituality, and Faith, Narelle Urquhart
"Art can speak a different narrative over Aboriginal people, compared to what's been spoken about us by others"

I spoke with Narelle Urquhart, brilliant Aboriginal artist and Indigenous Cultural Support Officer at Bond University. We discuss her emergence as an artist, her faith, what she hopes to capture with her work, the ongoing inequality that Aboriginal people face, working with young people, and the celebration of culture. Check out her work online (a quick google search will get you there). Listen in iTunes