August Research Colloquium

The next Research Colloquium is on this Friday 19 August starting at 1.30pm in G4. The program is as follows:

1.30pm – 2.15pm Clive Pearson Faculty Presentation Who is the ‘us’? Shifting the Audience for Christ’s Sake.
2.15pm – 3.00pm Paul Porta DMin Research Presentation “Ordinary Stories” in the Research project: An exploration of the influence of countries of origin on perceptions of God in a multicultural congregation.
3.00pm – 3.45pm Kamaloni Tu’iono DMin Research Presentation Seeking to Create Va space as a means of fostering a communal model of supervision in a cross-cultural Setting.

Clive Pearson clive_pearson Who is the ‘us’? Shifting the Audience for Christ’s Sake.
Writing in the Harvard Theological Review back in 2002 the Reformed theologian Michael Welker played with the question “Who is Jesus Christ for us today?” Welker was, of course, mindful of its origins in Bonhoeffer’s prison writings and of how it has become the foundational question which lies behind most Christologies aligned alongside the principle of contextuality. In a variety of ways Welker demonstrated the ambiguity of the references to “us” and “today”. Welker duly noted how the temporal referent can mask an uncertainty and defensiveness as to whether there is any “historical truth” in the Christian confession pertaining to Christ which “might endure across the centuries”. For the present focus the emphasis falls, nevertheless, on the plural pronoun “us”. What is its membership? What is its relationship to the enquirer posing the question in the first place? Is there a place in this “us” for Ann Christie’s Ordinary Christology? What happens if the audience – and thus the membership of this undefined “us” – stands outside the Christian confession and wishes to answer back?
The contemporary context in a society like Australia is one which is both secular and multi-religious. The present “today” also falls upon the spike which will separate the Holocene (during which time all biblical and theological scholarship has been undertaken) and the Anthropocene which seems to invite a more eschatological and apocalyptic turn (Clive Hamilton).
If the “us” is widened beyond the scope of an already existing discipleship, what happens? What counter questions are raised? Matthew McCormick poses a response from the perspective of Atheism and the Case Against Christ. Todd Outcalt reminds us that there is an “other Jesus” to be found in “stories from world religions”. The Islamic response is mediated for current purposes primarily through the writings of Abdullah Saeed, Mona Siddiqui, Zeki Sariprotak, and Todd Lawson’s The Qur’an and the Crucifixion.

Paul Porta
“Ordinary Stories” in the Research project: An exploration of the influence of countries of origin on perceptions of God in a multicultural congregation.
The research project applied Astley’s concept of Ordinary theology (Astley, 2002; Astley & Francis, 2013) to culturally formed perceptions of God. For Astley, ordinary theology is the theology of those who have not had academic theological training. Theology in this sense develops through stories of how God is experienced. This is the essence of Astley’s ordinary theology. Ordinary theology is not a synonym for a simplistic or derogatory approach to lived experiences of God. Instead, ordinary theology follows the dynamic trajectory of personal God narratives. Primal theological understanding is expressed in the vernacular language and autobiographical narrative.

Christie (Christie, 2007, 2012; Christie & Astley, 2009) and Cartledge (Cartledge, 2010)are noteworthy exponents of ordinary theology research. Both researchers were meticulous in their documentation of the diverse God narratives of their particular research participants. Christie researched a number of members of rural Anglican churches in England. Cartledge researched a Pentecostal church in the city of Birmingham, England. It was essential in both cases that the voice of the ordinary theologian be heard and heeded. In this way ordinary theology was given its rightful place alongside of academic theology in the development of theological understanding.

Ordinary theology partners with academic theology in the development of theological understanding. Christie and Cartledge’s ordinary theologies were examined against academic theology. In the same way, academic theology was tested against ordinary theology. The academic theology provided essential tests of verity while ordinary theology, especially in Christie’s case, tested the validity of academic theology.
Academic and ordinary theologies are mutually benefitted through the dialogue. Dissonance noted by exponents of ordinary theology between theologies that “work” and theologies that are “true” but obscure to the ordinary theologian, requires a revisionist approach to how academic theology is clearly defined and better communicated. A less obscure academic theology may avoid pragmatic factionalism criticised in ordinary theology.

Kamaloni Tu’iono
Seeking to Create Va space as a means of fostering a communal model of supervision in a cross-cultural Setting – Chapter 2: Cross-cultural Competence
Based on the statement of Uniting Church’s declaration of ‘One Body, Many Members’ is the claim that ‘living the faith includes living cross-culturally. In this Chapter, I am focussing on stretching our mind to understand the process of acquiring the cultural specific and cultural general knowledge, skill and attitudes required for effective communication and interaction with individual for other cultures. In order to achieve this, we need to identify cross-cultural barriers that make the space as unsafe space. This presentation also seeks to interpret the idea of cross cultural competence into Tongan terminology.

HDR Students are reminded that their participation in the Research Colloquiums is a critical component of their candidature and that apologies should be sent to Joanne Stokes at [email protected]

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