Applicants choose one morning seminar and one afternoon seminar per week. A PDF version of the seminar descriptions is also available.
Week 1: 30 July - 5 August
Morning seminars (9.00am-12.00pm)
Theology of Refugees - Dr Barney Aspray
There are more than 100 million refugees in the world today and the number is growing daily. It has never been more urgent for Christians to respond to this global crisis. This course offers an overview of the politics and ethics of refugees from a Christian theological point of view. Starting with a detailed survey of the contemporary situation, we will explore in depth what the Bible has to say about forced migration before delving into the many ethical conflicts over immigration in both the church and the wider world. Finally, we will look at some of the practical challenges that face those who work closely with refugees.
Religion and Nature in the Twenty-First Century - Dr Sarah Jane Boss
In an age of global warming, this course will examine religious responses to the natural environment, and enquire into the role that religion might play in environmental protection.
Theorists have suggested that the origin of religion lies in the awe that is induced by the presence of natural forces, and sacred sites have often been connected with natural events and features of the landscape. The course will consider theological, philosophical and sociological approaches to these questions.
It’s Good to Talk: The Value of Dialogue - The Reverend Canon Nicholas Turner
Lockdown isolation reminded many of us how much we need to talk with other people. The time of anxiety which has followed has only emphasised the value of dialogue. The heart of this course will be the gospel questions, amounting in all to some six hundred references from the four evangelists. Most important are the questions asked by Jesus himself. Then there are those asked by others directly to Jesus, and those unexpressed but answered by him anyway. Of particular interest are those asked of other people about Jesus, and finally the small but significant group of questions that are referred to but were never asked.
We are looking here not at the answers, but what it means to speak with Jesus through his written word. We shall also look at the late Old Testament writings, especially Ezra and Nehemiah, Job and Jonah, which developed the tradition of interrogating the ancient sacred texts; as well as some examples from Paul’s letters.
The Scriptures are not a monologue; we are not being spoken to, but invited to engage in a life-changing conversation. This questioning approach is complementary to but distinct from lectio divina. The course does not expect any special knowledge or expertise, but should appeal to those who relish close study of the biblical texts.
Afternoon seminars (1.30pm-4.30pm)
Trying to Live into a New Normal - Professor Anthony Reddie
The sessions for this week will look at Theological Anthropology and the challenge of how we live together as human beings. The Pandemic illustrated the nature of two pandemics - the Coronavirus that has taken so many lives, but in the murder of George Floyd and resurgence of the Black Lives Matter Movement, we have also seen the continued presence of systemic racism and oppressive economic systems that have impacted on the lives of the poor in the Global Majority world.
The participative activities and accompanied theological reflections will assist individuals in imagining a new normal, a new way of being human and how we live together post pandemic.
A Time for Re-Constellations - The Revd Dr Anne Holmes
This course will introduce practical theology as a discipline which embraces psychology. The sessions will cover loss and change during the pandemic, the subsequent insecurity due to the war in Ukraine, the rise in the cost of energy and general rise in the cost of living. Among themes to be considered will be the impact of these events on the mental health of key workers including clergy, the importance of a flexible response to the need to facilitate Christian liturgy in new ways, a focus on well-being and creative repair and reflections on the way forward. Participants will be invited to contribute to the discussion, drawing on their own experience.
Is Horrendous Evil Compatible with a God of Love? - The Revd Canon Professor Keith Ward
The course will examine some major attempts to answer, or evade, this question in the history of religions and in philosophical thought. This will involve discussion of the Bible, ancient Greek philosophy, Aquinas, Leibniz, Teilhard, Plantinga, Barth, Rahner, and Whitehead. Free and open discussion is welcome, though some positive proposals of an affirmative answer will be suggested.
Week 2: 6 - 12 August
Morning seminars (9.00am-12.00pm)
Sabbath as Resilience in a Post-Pandemic World - Dr Ken Barnes
This seminar is based on a book that I am writing with colleagues at the Mockler Center. The premise is that “sabbath” is more than a religious ordinance prohibiting manual labour. Instead, we take a much more expansive view of sabbath as a “prism” through which we view all human activity. This broader understanding of sabbath presents opportunities for people to recover from the pressures of modern life generally, and the impact of post-trauma specifically. Each session will concentrate on one area of life:
- Values (sabbath as “reprioritization”)
- Time (sabbath as “resistance”)
- Space/Place (sabbath as “reimagination”)
- People (sabbath as “renewal”)
- Faith (sabbath as “redemption”)
Each session will be a combination of lectures, videos, group exercises, journaling, and sabbath “practices” (i.e. meditations).
Christianity and the Crisis of Modernity - Dr Michael Burdett
This seminar surveys the challenges posed to the Christian faith by modernity and a range of theological responses to these challenges. It focuses on how Christianity has responded to challenges from gender with feminist theology, race/class with liberation theology and critical theory with postmodern theology. It also attends to challenges from science and technology. We will study how evolution potentially challenges human uniqueness and the image of God and also how gene editing, human enhancement and AI are being grappled with by Christian ethics. Throughout we will consider whether the challenges are significant and whether the responses are satisfying.
Christian Leadership in Crisis - Dr Jonathan Brant
This course will explore both recent well-documented failures of Christian leadership, and consider what we might do to ensure that Christian leadership can make a positive contribution in society in times of crisis. The course will consider features of our current context that make failures of leadership more likely, before drawing on biblical, theological and ethical traditions in order to explore how we might do better. The seminars will involve short presentations, reflection on participants’ personal experience, group discussion, as well as engagement with arts, literature and media.
Afternoon seminars (1.30pm-4.30pm)
Psychological Approaches to Religion: Friend or Foe to Christian Theology - Dr Emily Burdett
How can we use psychological methods to understand religious behaviour? Can we measure belief? Are we predisposed to think of supernatural agents? How can Christian theology engage with the work in Psychology? This seminar explores these questions in depth. It provides an introduction to the methods in psychology, and an overview of the scientific study of religion. Students will also engage and critically examine new and cutting-edge research.
African Pentecostal Understandings of War and Sickness: Responses to the Ukraine War and Covid-19 Pandemic - Dr Christopher Wadibia
Over the past few years, the world has been significantly affected by the Covid-19 pandemic and Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Much scholarly and popular attention has analysed the geopolitical, economic, and historical dimensions of these world changing events. However, little work has been completed to clarify the role that religion and spirituality play in the lives of those affected by these two hugely consequential events. Pentecostalism is the world's fastest-growing Christian denomination and enjoys massive popularity in Africa. It offers a useful framework to explore how religious people apprehend war and sickness. This seminar will introduce students to the field of African Pentecostalism and guide them through modules that assess how African Pentecostals understand the concepts of war and sickness by using the case studies of the Ukraine War and Covid-19 pandemic.