Wednesday, 28 February 2007
As I have posted previously, I am due to give the Whitley Lecture here at Luther King House in Manchester next Tuesday, March 6th. Coffee will be available from 7.00 p.m., Lecture at 7.30 p.m. with a 9.00 p.m. finish. All are welcome.
However, if there is anyone out there reading this who is planning to come or who knows others who might be coming, could you please let me know numbers asap. We need to make sure we have a room that will be of approximately the right size.
Monday, 05 February 2007
The first delivery of the Whitley Lecture was last Wednesday at Bristol. It went well: about 40 present, including old friends and many new faces, made up largely of ministerial students from Bristol and Cardiff Baptist Colleges. The lecture was slightly too long (this will be altered the next time I present it), but there was good interaction after it and we went well over our allotted time. Among the questions that, for me, generated further reflection were:
- have I underestimated the extent to which interpretation is bound up with issues of power, not least at the level of the local church? (Answer: I possibly have in the lecture, although I make comments in it that address this point and developed on them in my comments)
- does my thesis mean that 'anything goes' and that there is no prospect for agreement or convergence in interpretation (answer, no its doesn't mean that, but addressing these concerns is a lengthy and complex task and my focus is inevitably on the fact and legitimacy of interpretive difference, given the assumptions about the nature of interpretation that prevail in our churches). There was a nice historical point here noting that by starting with the General Baptists I am in danger of suggesting that the doctrinal move to Unitarianism was OK (the irony of discussing this point in the institution partly responsible for the development of Evangelical Calvinism was not lost on me).
- do we need to be more radical about re-thinking Sunday worship and especially preaching? Yes, we probably do and I confessed to feeling caught here between the desire for churches to be places of genuine plurality and my belief in preaching as proclamation. I still hope to think that this is a creative tension.
- did I use too many long words?: yeh but..no but...yeh but...
Incidentally, the day after returning i picked off my copy of AKMA's book Faithful Interpretation off the shelves, and found to my delight that he is articulating a similar vision, in rather more sophisticated terms. The chapter on Integral v Differential Hermeneutics is right on the mark.
I had a conversation today in which I was asked if I felt that there was potential for the ideas in the lecture to really make a difference to the ways in which we as Baptists understand and talk about the whole interpretive task. I have my doubts. But thanks to Bristol for giving me the opportunity to give a first airing to these ideas.
Thursday, 18 January 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.
Monday, 22 May 2006
I have tried in the past to give information about recent work by British Baptist theologians. Andy Goodliff has gone one stage further and has offered several helpful posts containing extensive bibliographical information for the following people:
Thursday, 23 March 2006
Monday, 27 February 2006
The annual Whitley lecture was delivered at NBC last Thursday. I was not able to be present, because I was giving a paper of my own, but by all accounts it was a good event.
This year's lecture was given by Kate Coleman, who is also the BUGB President for 2006-7. The title was "Being Human" A Black British Christian Woman's Perspective". Quoting from the synopsis, Kate's work, which is based on her recent Birmingham PhD develops "...a Christian anthropology based upon the epistemological exigencies of black women" and uses Genesis 3 as a key resource in the process.
If anyone wants a printed copy then I guess you would need to go to the BUGB Publications Department or email me and we may have a few lying around at around £5.00 a go,.
Monday, 09 January 2006
Baptist Laity Thursday 21st March 2006: 10.00 a.m. - 5.30 p.m.
A working conference on the theme of Baptist laity
"Notwithstainding our espousing of the doctrine of the priesthood of all believers, our history is still remarkably clericalized. What did all those Baptist people do from one Sunday to the next? This conference opens a project which is trying to map the world of the Baptist layman (sic!). A number of papers have been promised but volunteers to give short papers either on individuals or clusters are invited."
Charge: £10 including lunch and refreshments
Abraham Booth Saturday 1st July 2006: 10.00 a.m. - 4.00 p.m.
A Day conference to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the death of Abraham Booth
"Converted and baptized amongst the New Connexion of General (Arminian) Baptists, Booth underwent a second conversion to Calvinism. Moving to London to the key pulpit of the Prestcott Street Church, he had a long career of pastoral activity and as a theological author. Lectures will be given by Sharon James, Kenneth Dix and Michael Haykin. John Briggs will chair the day."
Charge: £10 to include lunch and refreshments.
For more details or to book for either event contact John Briggs at Regent's Park College, Pusey Street, Oxford, OX1 2LB.
Thursday, 17 November 2005
I have just returned from BUGB Council and have a few moments to blog before finishing preparation for the Marcus Borg Reading weekend I am leading in Windermere on Friday-Sunday. Council was a good occasion. The Baptist Times will no doubt give an overview of the main decisions etc. but here were some of the highlights as I experienced them:
1. The time spent discussing the resource being made available to churches who want to think through issues around homosexuality. This was Council in genuine reflective mode, with people feeling able to contribute openly and honestly and from a wide variety of perspectives (as you would imagine!). Look out for the material as it becomes available - a very useful tool!
2. The use of Coldplay's "Science" in a nice powerpoint presentation in the session exploriing the reasons for the drop in the numbers of young people connected to Baptist churches in the UK. Great song which took on new, evocative meaning when set in that context.
3. The debate over the future of the BUGB Annual Assembly where finally we began to grasp the nettle of what it means to be the Union in assembly and, I hope, took steps towards a more reflective, deliberative and thus ecclesial form of meeting.
4. The appointment of my good friend Sian Murray-Williams to be the next Moderator of the Faith and Unity Executive. It is just a shame that I will be coming off the committee just as Sian takes the helm (see below). Also the appointment of the new Trustee Board for the Union.
5. The (inadvertent) statement during the Assembly debate that the Assembly was a useful time for Baptists to meet for "intercourse".
6. The fact that the hall was WiFi'd and thus enabled blogging and checking of email in the middle of sessions.
7. Late nights with good friends (not to be named), liquid refreshment and now, for the first time, cheese and biscuits (come back Darrell - we miss you and your case).
8. Finally, I should perhaps mention that yesterday morning the Council appointed me to be the next Moderator of Council for the next three years. This is a tremendous privilege and I just hope that I can do the job. However, it does mean that points 5, 6 and 7 will not feature in my future experience of Council meetings. In other words, it will not do for the Moderator to (a) snigger at juvenile double entendres in debates; (b) check emails while chairing the meeting; (c) stay up late and wake up groggy. It will also mean that my time on the Faith and Unity Executive will come to end and also my role as Doctrine Co-ordinator. That role was a part of the reason for setting up this blog, but the blog will continue nonetheless.
I guess many people think that spending 3 days with 180 other Baptists agreeing budgets and discussing the life of the Union would be a dull affair. It has its moments (I will spare you detail of Council lowlights - there were a few), but overall I really enjoy being there and I always come away proud to be a Baptist and proud of what BUGB is as a Union of Churches.
Monday, 24 October 2005
Andy Goodliff has drawn my attention to recent posts by Maggi Dawn on the topic of children and communion / eucharist etc. You can trace the posts from Andy's post here. This gives me a chance to say that I am still working with one or two others on a pack of material that will enable Baptist churches to reflect on the whole topic of children and communion. The material has been long delayed, but I hope to get to it again over the autumn with a view to its being available some time next year in the Faith and Unity Department's Joined Up Thinking series.
Tuesday, 04 October 2005
The latest email from the Faith and Unity Department of the Baptist Union of Great Britain has arrived. It seeks to provide information about conferences, meetings, campaigns and resources relating to issues of ecumenical, social and political concern. It is available as a .pdf file here.
Update: the link has been fixed (thanks Fernando).