Home » 2021

Yearly Archives: 2021

Australia & New Zealand Association of Theological Schools Annual Conference, 2022Future Theology 3-6 July 2022, Sydney, Australia

The future hastens towards us, with challenges, but also possibilities and ambiguities: Artificial Intelligence, biotechnology, transhumanism, virtual realities, social and ecological changes, and a throng of ‘posts’: post-pandemic, post-Christendom, post-democracy, post-Western, post-Whiteness, post-orthodoxy—even, some suggest, post-human.
Christian Scripture and tradition have long provided resources for an orientation toward the future (promise and fulfilment; messianic expectation; resurrection, return, redemption and the renewal of creation). This orientation also poses the question: what might future theology and future biblical scholarship discover, consider, and contribute? What about future practical theology, future ethics, future contextual or constructive theology, future political theology, and even future historical research? What new methods might emerge? What exegetical and doctrinal questions might preoccupy us? What might future pedagogy and formation entail?The aim of this conference theme is to provoke reflection on what future theology in its various disciplines might say and do, as well as what its future context might look like. A major emphasis for the conference is that theology might be a creative, constructive, and contributory voice, speaking hope-fully into public discourse, the academy, and its ecclesial domains.
Our keynote speakers for ANZATS 2022 are Willie James Jennings (Yale University; formerly of Duke and Fuller) and Victoria Lorrimar (Trinity College, Brisbane). It is anticipated that Professor Jennings will address questions of race, theology, contextuality, and pedagogy in future perspective, while Dr Lorrimar will draw on her research specialisms in biotechnological human enhancement, theological anthropology and eschatology to stimulate further conversation and imagination.

Summer School: Introduction to Public Theology – 8 week course Tuesday nights, 6.30 – 9.30 pm In person at Wesley House, or online

Summer School: Introduction to Public Theology – 8 week course Tuesday nights, 6.30 – 9.30 pm In person at Wesley House, or online via Zoom What does it mean for faith communities to engage in public discourse? Is there a common good? Can “God-talk” still make a positive contribution to society? You are invited to explore these questions over 8 weeks in the first cooperative Summer School. During the course we will investigate the nature of public theology, explore pop culture, examine forms of public dialogue from political speeches to viral memes, and stage our own conversation on four critical social issues in our time. We will meet for 8 sessions on Tuesday nights (in person and online), starting on 11 January, 2022. For those who are joining us online, we will send you the Zoom link closer to the start date. Purchasing a ticket gives you access to all 8 sessions and all course materials:11 January 18 January 25 January 1 February8 February 15 February 22 February 1 March We have one copy of the book “Enacting a Public Theology” by Clive Pearson to give away! Everyone who registers for Summer School will go into the draw to win. The winner will be announced in January 2022…

Theologising in the Shadow of a Pandemic call for papers responses due by by Friday, 3 December 2021

Theologising in the Shadow of a Pandemic call for papers responses due by by Friday, 3 December 2021 for the 2022 Theology Research Network (TRN) Conference. The Theology Research Network (TRN), a network within the discipline area of Theology, was initiated in 2020 under the leadership of Professor Neil Ormerod. It exists to promote theological research within the Sydney College of Divinity. It draws together scholars from the diverse theological disciplines (systematics/doctrine, patristic, biblical theology, ethics, liturgy), and provides a forum and focus for theological research.
There is no formal membership. As a network, it remains an informal and inclusive structure that welcomes diverse participation in conversations from a variety of perspectives. See

8am Thursday Dec 2 UQ Practical Theology Colloquium on Pastoral care and spirituality

William Schmidt, Professor of Pastoral Studies at the Loyola Institute Chicago, editor of Journal of Mental Health and Spirituality, and co-author of Spiritual Formation in Local Faith Communities (forthcoming), will give a lecture via Zoom as part of this year’s UQ Practical Theology Colloquium. The lecture will begin at 8am Brisbane time on Thursday December 2. Bill will speak about his research at the interface of pastoral care and spirituality. The link to the Zoom session is here: Please contact A/Prof Neil Pembroke at UQ if further details are required

UQ studies in religion seminar – JavaScript? Bavinck, Dutch Colonial Policy, and Divine Providence 22 October 2021 2:00pm–3:00pm

UQ Studies in Religion Seminars Dr Bruce Pass
JavaScript? Bavinck, Dutch Colonial Policy, and Divine Providence
22 October 2021 2:00pm–3:00pm

Room: E319 Forgan Smith Building

While many Reformed theologians have reflected at length on politics and government, few have also served as practitioners in this field. Thus, Herman Bavinck (1854-1921) is an interesting case in point, as he not only left a substantial body of work in various theological subdisciplines but also served as a sitting member of parliament. For this reason, Bavinck’s parliamentary speeches provide a fascinating lens through which his more abstract doctrinal formulations may be viewed. This paper explores the way Bavinck’s stated opinions on Dutch colonial policy problematize his account of divine providence. Accordingly, a brief summary of Bavinck’s account of divine providence will be presented. Soundings from Bavinck’s parliamentary speeches will then be taken in order to isolate what I would regard as the singular weakness Bavinck’s account of divine providence. By way of conclusion, I will draw on David Fergusson’s recent examination of this doctrine in order to suggest a mode of theological retrieval that makes fruitful use of the strengths of Bavinck’s providentialism while avoiding its shortcomings.

UQ Studies in Religion Seminar – Dr Sam Hey Potential Contributions of the Wesleyan Quadrilateral to Spiritual Formation 22 October 2021 3:00pm

UQ Studies in Religion Seminar – Dr Sam Hey Potential Contributions of the Wesleyan Quadrilateral to Spiritual Formation 22 October 2021 3:00pm–4:00pm Room: E319 Forgan Smith UQ The challenge of promoting ongoing spiritual and character formation is particularly acute for congregations as they move beyond an emphasis on conversion to consider growth throughout the life journey. This paper considers the nature of formation and some of the ways that the four sources of revelation in experience, reason, tradition, and the bible can contribute to Christian formation for all life stages. The value of a deeper understanding of each source and the combination of four sources is shown to encourage the deeper shaping of the whole person and their mind, emotions, spirit and relationships with the divine, others and the true self. This combination of sources is shown to help overcome the limitations of a narrow focus on a single source, such as is found in biblicism, traditionalism, rationalism or experientialism. This paper also considers ways this combination of sources helps to promote ecumenical engagement between people from different denominational backgrounds.

UQ Theology Research Seminar, Friday Sept 3rd at 2pm in E319, Forgan Smith Bldg

Paper 1: An All-inclusive Call to Care for Earth and LifeClive W Ayre, PhD As we all know, the COVID pandemic has seized the public imagination and response in a way that has been described as unprecedented. But recent years have also given us massive floods, fires, and other such disasters. Many of those events have been beyond the coping capacity of the people and nations involved, yet they have not galvanised our response in the same way. The response of both humans and animals during these crises suggests that while it is true that different species tend to prey on one another, most of the evidence points to the interconnectedness of life.
During the past year, I have been involved in writing several chapters for a new book on climate change adaptation in the Pacific Islands, relating in particular to opportunities for faith-engaged approaches. Importantly, the book reflects an interdisciplinary perspective that seeks to be “scientifically sound, spiritually attuned, locally meaningful, and contextually compelling”. There is clearly much that could be said, but I will seek to address the central theme of caring both for the Earth and each other, including all life.
It will be obvious that I am speaking out of a Christian context, yet with a profound respect for other traditions. It has long been my contention that while it may be important to acknowledge inter-religious differences, in interfaith relations it is even more important and productive to identify the areas we hold in common. It allows for the development of understanding, trust, and respect, which is always important, but especially so when it comes to care of the Earth and of each other. In that space, those areas of agreement are significant.
I want to address what I am calling “an all-inclusive call to care for Earth and life” to suggest that Earthcare and Lifecare are not options for us to pick and choose; they belong inseparably together, and are an imperative for all of us. In order to care for the Earth, we are bound to care for each other, and in order to care for each other we need to care for the Earth; nor can we forget the significance of wildlife.

I will begin by addressing the concept of “the household of God”, culminating in a proposal about reconciliation. I will then explore some fundamental partnerships which can play a positive role in Earthcare. I will draw on the lived experience of people in the Pacific Islands region, which has much to say to us about the indissoluble link between care for Earth and for life. This will include reference to several climate change issues in Australia. Finally, I will offer some summary observations about our response.

Paper 2: Participation in Times of Social Crisis: Refugees from Crisis Countries as a Case Study
Neil Pembroke

In order to give this paper a sharp focus, primary attention is given to the European context. What is commonly known as “the European refugee crisis” reached its peak in 2016. Complex structural problems persist, but the “crisis” has now passed. I note, as the scare quotes suggest, that the term “European refugee crisis” is problematic. It communicates a sense that Europe at that time was a continent under siege. Indeed, refugees were commonly viewed as dangerous invaders who put cultural identity and economic security under serious threat.

Though the “crisis” is over, it is useful to reflect theologically on how neighbour-love and solidarity were expressed at its peak. The concept that is employed to inform the reflection is “participation.” This term can simply describe the act of taking part in an activity. My interest is in participation as a moral activity. In what follows, I draw on Karol Wojtyla’s description of it. Stated succinctly, participation is being-with and acting-for others with the aim of advancing the common good. Personalist philosophers such as Martin Buber, Ferdinand Ebner, and Gabriel Marcel offer an understanding of participation that is founded on an I-Thou relation. What characterizes the I-Thou relation is intersubjectivity; the partners participate in the relation as subjects rather than as “its.” An adequate ethical treatment of participation needs to begin at the level of the I-Thou relation, but it needs to progress to incorporation of a “We” dimension. That is to say, an adequate articulation of a participative ethic includes both interpersonal and communal element

Wojtyla took a phenomenological approach to his topic; he wrote as a philosopher rather than as a theologian. Pope John Paul II was, of course, a capable theologian; he chose a strictly philosophical method to articulate the nature of participation. My first task is to ground the concept in an explicitly theological construct. To do this, I refer to Mühlen’s Trinitarian theology. He mirrors the progression in Wojtyla’s work on participation from the I-Thou level to the communal or “We” level. He posits the Holy Spirit as the personal agency representing the extension of the divine self-love expressed in the mutuality of the I-Thou relation between the Father and the Son; the triune God lives and loves not only through an I-Thou relation, but also through a We relation. Human participation is an echo, the faintest of echoes, of Trinitarian participation.

In the second half of the paper, I use the I-Thou and We dynamics, neighbour-love, and other central ideas associated with Wojtyla’s conceptualization of participation to theologically analyze selected cases of refugee support and advocacy. The focus is largely, but not exclusively, on the European context. I have included two stories from other cultural contexts. The dynamics they reveal are universal in application; they certainly speak to the European experience. Issues touched on include a crisis of solidarity, liturgical truth-telling, and hospitality as open friendship vs hospitality as power, and a care of person-care of social world paradigm. Further details at

Book launch of two books by Rev Dr Bruce

You are invited the book launch of two books by Rev Dr Bruce R. Pass, on October 26 @ 7:30 pm – 9:00 pm – Free event Bruce R. Pass, On Theology: Herman Bavinck’s Academic Orations (Leiden: Brill, 2021) and

Bruce R. Pass, The Heart of Dogmatics: Christology and Christocentrism in Herman Bavinck (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2020).

This will be a relaxed but entertaining supper held at BST (and online), with presentations from Dr Mark Baddeley (Queensland Theological College) and Assoc Prof Ben Myers (Alphacrucis College), as well as an address by Bruce Pass. Register now or join us via Zoom on the night

Further information at

Herman Bavinck Conference 6 to 7 December in person and by zoom

Brisbane School of Theology will be convening a two-day conference on the 6 to 7 December to mark the centenary of the death of Dutch theologian and statesman, Herman Bavinck (1854-1921), Five plenary sessions will examine the contours of Bavinck’s theology, two roundtables will consider Bavinck’s relevance for contemporary Christianity, and short papers will address various aspects of Bavinck’s life, thought, and legacy.Options of in person attendance, or zoom attendance are available. Plenary sessions will be presented by Oliver Crisp, Henk van den Belt, James Eglinton, Graham Cole, Koert van Bekkum See further details at

ANZATS 2021 conference online this coming week

I am looking forward to the ANZATS conference online this coming week. There is still time to join us if you have not signed up already. The cost of participating this year is much lower as the conference is online. The Plenary sessions by Theological Ethics and we are pleased to welcome Professor Brian Brock (University of Aberdeen) and Dr Megan Best (Institute for Ethics and Society, University of Notre Dame, Australia) look very interesting. I am also looking forward to participating in some of the many interesting streams which include Barth StudiesCatholic EpistlesGeneralLiturgy & WorshipLukan ScholarshipNew & Emerging ScholarsPauline Studies & Early ChristianityReading the Bible in AustraliaTheological AnthropologyTheological EducationWorld Christianity and Diaspora Theology