Thursday, 18 January 2007
Whitley Lecture 2007
I am due to give the Whitley Lecture in several locations over the next couple of months. I am at Bristol Baptist College on January 31st and then at Spurgeon's on February 13th. But I am also due to give the lecture here in Luther King House as a part of the 1st Tuesday series of public lectures on March 6th 2007 at 7.30 p.m. A flyer for the event for downloading can be found below:
The foreword to the printed lecture gives some history and background:
'The Whitley Lecture was first established in 1949 in honour of W. T. Whitley (1861-1947), the Baptist historian. Whitley was a notable scholar and pastor in both England and Australia. Following a pastorate in Bridlington, during which he also taught at Rawdon College in Yorkshire, he became the first Principal of the Baptist College of Victoria in Melbourne, Australia in 1891. This institution was subsequently renamed Whitley College in his honour. Returning to England after eleven years in Australia, he was a leading and influential figure in the denomination during the early part of the twentieth century. His History of British Baptists (1923) is still an important source of information and comment for contemporary historians.
Whitley was a key figure in the formation of the Baptist Historical Society in 1908. He edited its journal, which soon gained an international reputation for the quality of its contents, a reputation it still enjoys nearly a century later as the Baptist Quarterly. Altogether he made an important contribution to Baptist life and self understanding, providing a model of how a pastor-scholar might enrich the life and faith of others.
The Lectureship established in his name is intended to be an encouragement to research and writing by Baptist scholars, and to enable the results of their work to be published. The committee consists of representatives of the British Baptist Colleges, the Baptist Union of Great Britain, BMS World Mission, the Baptist Ministers Fellowship and the Baptist Historical Society. It is always keen to hear about work being done by Baptist scholars, and is prepared to consider making grants as well as offering advice and support.
Each year from 1996, a leading Baptist scholar has been appointed the Whitley Lecturer. The lecturer is invited to write and deliver a lecture as a significant contribution to Baptist thought. It is given at different locations during the course of the year, and published by the committee. This year the committee is delighted that Revd Dr Sean Winter, tutor at Northern Baptist College in Manchester, has agreed to be the tenth Whitley Lecturer in this series. Sean prepared for Baptist ministry at Bristol Baptist College (1986-1990) where he studied at the University of Bristol and then went on to Regent’s Park College (1990-1993) to study for a DPhil. He worked with the present Bishop of Durham, N. T. Wright, completing a thesis exploring Paul’s rhetorical strategy in his letter to the Philippians in 1997. In 1994 he was called to be minister at Abbey Baptist Church in Reading, a historic town centre church. The call back into College life came in 2000 with a move to Northern Baptist College in Manchester, where he is the Tutor in New Testament. He has served the Baptist Union of Great Britain in numerous roles, and currently serves as the Moderator of the Baptist Union Council.
In his Whitley Lecture Sean pursues one of his research interests in the area of theological hermeneutics and explores the distinctive contribution of Baptist Christians to the task of interpreting the Bible today. This theme is of interest to all those who believe in the continuing relevance of the message of the Bible, and in particular to all those of a Baptist persuasion who want to think seriously about their faith.
The printed lecture is available from the Baptist Union of Great Britain.'
The abstract I sent to the Committee last year gives, perhaps, a better feel for the focus and content of the lecture
The lecture will explore the issue of how Baptists might understand the task of biblical interpretation in the light of their covenantal understanding of the nature of God, God’s relating to the world, and the life of the church. In particular, the lecture will consider how as Baptists we ought to understand the inevitable diversity of biblical interpretation and the consequent disagreements that arise as a result of such diversity. I will argue that the use of the word “biblical” in relation to Baptist identity, denotes not a commitment to a particular interpretive decision about the meaning of scripture, but a commitment to a particular kind of relationship to scripture. Within such a relationship, diversity and disagreement are to be expected and even welcomed as those things which sustain an appropriately covenantal relationship with God via the medium of the text, and with each other. The lecture will end with several practical suggestions as to how such an understanding of interpretation might take visible shape in the local church and within theological education.
If you are in Manchester on March 6th and want to join us you would be welcome. Alternatively, I am also giving the lecture at the BUGB Assembly in Brighton on Saturday May 5th at 4.00 p.m.
Update: it occurs to me that there is a remote, highly, extremely remote, chance that someone reading this blog might want to host a Whitley Lecture event. Part of the responsibility of being the lecturer is to respond to invitations to deliver the lecture within the Baptist constituency during 2007. While I am not looking to pack my diary, I would be prepared to consider invitations from any colleges, associations, churches that feel that it might be a good idea. Get in touch to discuss it further if you feel this would be an idea to pursue.