In-Between God

In-Between God: Theology, Community, and Discipleship

Stephen Pickard
Copyright Date: 2011
Published by: ATF (Australia) Ltd.
Pages: 262
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  • Book Info
    In-Between God
    Book Description:

    In-Between God' explores three important areas for contemporary Christianity: theology, community and discipleship. Part One inquires into the rhythms of faith as it interacts with themes of uncertainty and doubt, the nature of theological discourse, the task of systematic theology, evangelism and the various ways in which theology is done. Part Two discusses the importance of place in relation to the church, and themes of innovation, undecideability and new forms of monastic community. Part Three addresses themes in discipleship: simplicity, mysticism, the passions and pilgrimage. A red thread connecting these essays is the character of the triune God who is the energy and life in between all things.

    eISBN: 978-1-921817-54-0
    Subjects: Religion

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface and Acknowledgements
    (pp. vii-x)
    Stephen Pickard
  4. Chapter One Seeding Communities of the In-Between God
    (pp. 1-12)

    I recall a comment of Stanley Hauerwas that the appropriate location for Christian ethics was always ‘in the middle’ of things. His point was that we did not have the luxury of beginning outside or at the periphery of life. This resonated with my own instincts in relation to the theological enterprise. We begin and proceed encompassed by the God who is our beginning and end and who is the holy presence in and through all things. The work of theology ought not take place at some remove from the circumstances of our life nor ought it presume to deliver...

  5. Part One: Theology:: Seeking the Rhythms of Faith
    • Chapter Two Uncertainty, Religion and Trust
      (pp. 15-32)

      In the popular mind uncertainty is rarely associated with religious claims, particularly in an age of religious fanaticism and fundamentalism. This chapter examines the nature and function of uncertainty in religion. It does so by way of ten provisional theses: five general theses regarding religion in contemporary society and five theses exploring uncertainty from within the Christian tradition. In Part I the theme of uncertainty is considered against the background of fundamentalism and the accompanying lust for certainty; the impact of appeals to certainty with the rise of the modern sciences from the seventeenth century and the religious response; and...

    • Chapter Three Trinitarian Dynamics of Belief
      (pp. 33-48)

      The tendency of Christian belief to collapse into an undifferentiated form of monotheism has been a recurring feature of the Christian tradition. Karl Rahner’s observation in this regard is most apposite:

      despite their orthodox confession of the Trinity, Christians are, in their practical life, almost mere ‘monotheists’. We must be willing to admit that, should the doctrine of the Trinity have to be dropped as false, the major part of religious literature could well remain virtually unchanged.²

      More recently Jürgen Moltmann, among others, has drawn attention to the impact of this loss of trinitarian belief within the wider socio/political and...

    • Chapter Four A Future for Systematic Theology
      (pp. 49-72)

      In the 1992 Bampton Lectures Colin Gunton drew attention to the powerful influence in the Christian tradition of two ancient philosophies; the Parmenidean and the Heraclitean.² Whereas the former stressed the underlying unity and stability of the world, the latter gave prominence to plurality, particulars and state of flux of the world. The tradition of Parmenides provided the backdrop for the first millennium and a half of the Christian tradition and appeared to offer support to a Christian theism that gave order and meaning to the world. However, the Enlightenment framework of modern Christianity has been heavily influenced by the...

    • Chapter Five The Ways of Theology: Insights from the Antipodes
      (pp. 73-106)

      What place does theology occupy in Australian Anglicanism? Australian pragmatism and impatience with matters of the intellect has had little enthusiasm for or apparent need of theologians in the Church. Some kinds of theological activity—overly academic, elitist and irrelevant—might only confirm such prejudice! If theology occupies a somewhat marginal place then perhaps this is as it should be. After all, in a management and market driven world what is the value of theology in the life of the Church? It is a question once addressed by that famous ex-Anglican John Henry Newman. In his preface to the re-publication...

    • Chapter Six Evangelism and Theology in Dialogue
      (pp. 107-130)

      Evangelism and theology have not proved to be very compatible partners, at least in the modern period of the Christian tradition. The relationship perhaps has more the character of a stormy courtship ending in separation rather than a well-established marriage. The nature of their partnership was nicely symbolised in the meeting in August, 1960 of Billy Graham and Karl Barth—arguably the two greatest figures in evangelism and theology respectively in the twentieth century. The Barthian interpretation of the meeting is recorded by Barth’s biographer, Eberhard Busch:

      His [Barth’s] son Markus brought them together in the Valais. However, this meeting...

  6. Part Two Church:: Finding Community in a Disturbed World
    • Chapter Seven Recovering an Ecclesial Sense of Place Down-under
      (pp. 133-152)

      Some years ago the well-known Lutheran theologian, Jaroslav Pelikan, stated that ‘the doctrine of the church became, as it had never quite been before, the bearer of the whole of the Christian message for the twentieth century, as well as the recapitulation of the entire doctrinal tradition from preceding centuries’.² Pelikan was pointing to the emergence of ecclesiology as the principle of coherence for the central themes of Christianity. Was this a sign of the failure of Christianity—a retreat into its religious ‘enclave’³—at least in the West? Or was it indicative of an intuition about community and sociality,...

    • Chapter Eight Innovation, Undecidability and Patience
      (pp. 153-172)

      Innovation derives from the Latininnovare, meaning to renew or alter; essentially to bring in or introduce something new. Hence we may speak of novel practices and/or doctrines. It is a controversial feature of the life of the Christian church. Innovation is almost endemic to Christianity. The very nature of the gospel suggests that notions of surprise and novelty belong to the life of discipleship because they first inhere in the very character and action of God. The great surprising act of God in the incarnation and resurrection of the Messiah sets the pattern for the emergence of novelty at...

    • Chapter Nine New Monasticism, Theology and the Future Church
      (pp. 173-190)

      Alasdair MacIntyre ends his important work,After Virtue, with an enticing proposal on the future of human community:

      It is always dangerous to draw too precise parallels between one historical period and another; and among the most leading of such parallels are those which have been drawn between our own age and Europe and North America and the epoch in which the Roman Empire declined into the dark ages. Nonetheless certain parallels there are. A crucial turning point in that earlier history occurred when men and women of good will turned aside from the task of shoring up theRoman...

  7. Part Three Discipleship:: Pilgrims on a Common Journey
    • Chapter Ten Discipleship and Divine Simplicity: A Conversation with Karl Barth
      (pp. 193-204)

      Few words seem to offer so many complexities as doessimplicitas.² In the biblical tradition simplicity (haplous) is associated with singleness and undividedness of heart for God, and personal integrity and straight forwardness in all relationships as befits those of the Kingdom of God. This evangelicalsimplicitasis linked to that humility, poverty and childlike innocence in which Jesus rejoices: ‘I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to babes’ (nepiois; Matthew 11:25, compare Luke 10:21). The ethical, moral and religious dimensions of this evangelical...

    • Chapter Eleven The Mystical Way for a New Age: William Law as a Test Case
      (pp. 205-226)

      No longer do we Australians live in a monochrome religious culture, if we ever truly did. Today, more than ever, we are aware of the rich tapestry of religions present in our culture. In this new context the question of Christian identity assumes a new and urgent importance and finds expression in, among other things, a concern to articulate the uniqueness of the gospel. A particular difficulty with this task today is that it has to be executed in relation to efforts by those of other faiths to clarify their own religious identity. Self-consciousness of this religious context is not...

    • Chapter Twelve The Passions: A Cautionary Note for Disciples
      (pp. 227-250)

      This topic rarely surfaces today. Indeed, interest in the ‘passions’ seems to have disappeared from our cultural discourse. As we shall see in this essay we are more familiar with the language of the ‘emotions’; their intelligence and significance in our lives. Specifying the relationship between the passions and the emotions is more difficult, but more of that in a moment. This paper arose out a quest to explore and understand the significance of the passions in my own life and work. I discovered over many years that the energies of my life could be harnessed for good or ill,...

    • Chapter Thirteen Unfinished Emmaus Journey: Discipleship for Pilgrims
      (pp. 251-262)

      We live in a pressured, fractious and often violent world. We are all too familiar with the effects of disintegration in our personal lives and in wider society. As a result we seek peace and integration but it often remains a puzzle to us why such things seem so elusive or beyond our capabilities. We wonder whether we lack the patience and strength to craft a way forward, to remain on task and see something through to its conclusion. We are too aware at times that we lack the resilience required for the pursuit of peace and harmony; and for...

  8. Index of Biblical References
    (pp. 263-266)
  9. Index of Names
    (pp. 267-270)
  10. Index of Subjects
    (pp. 271-276)