Monday, February 6

Coffee Shop Theology

"Theology is a community affair"
(Jurgen Moltmann)

Visit the CST mini site for information on our next discussion

We believe theology is truly thrilling. We also affirm that theology is not just the task of the academic and pastor - it belongs to us all. And theology does not just happen in Bible College, university and church hall - it happens wherever people engage with God.

In the spirit of the incarnation, and following the lead of Mosaic's Public Theology thing, the web's Open Source Theology, and the apostle Paul's trip to the Areopagus, a few of us are trying to take theological discussion into the public domain; into the place where dialogue happens - in our case the coffee shops of Edinburgh.

We seek to wrestle with our thinking about God through informal conversation which encourages open questioning and, where opinions differ, sincere respect. We seek to create an open community where we can share our passions, concerns and thoughts about the church. We seek to create space for 'the other': a cross-confessional environment where we can challenge each other, open each other's eyes to new perspectives and explore new ways that we can engage with both our shared Christian tradition and our contemporary culture. So if you are waiting for your hazelnut latte and hear a bunch of people in the corner getting excited about God, that'll be us. Get your coffee to sit in, and pull up a chair.

If you are interested in being part of a lively, informal and welcoming discussion on matters relating to (mainly but not exclusively) Christian theology then reply to this thread or email me and we'd love to have you with us. Of course, you could just show up!


Anonymous peterfoster said...

Well, I must admit that I have nothing theological to adda t this stage but just wante dthe claim to being the first person ever to leave a comment on this blog. So that's it then. Credit to you for the Pub, oops sorry, Cafe theology, lets all keep talking and pray we get somewhere towards more answers rather than the pile of questions that seems to be constantly rising.

2/08/2006 08:52:00 am  
Blogger stuartweir said...

With regard to the universalism question I have a thought or two: I wonder why we often try to match up scripture passages with one another. What I mean is, what about the notion that all of the different writers of scripture had their own theologies, just like we do?! So the Spirit inspired all sorts of different folk to write in the way they did because of the way they understand life in the Spirit. If this is true, then we have a web of theologies in scripture. This is cool because diversity is a huge strength for the church.

So, the way in which we approach scripture and understand it will always be different if we are open and free when coming to the sacred text.

2/17/2006 06:51:00 pm  
Blogger Jamie said...

Stuart's last comment has been moved to a new thread


2/18/2006 01:26:00 pm  
Blogger boxthejack said...

Was Jesus a pacifist?

2/20/2006 11:29:00 am  
Blogger Brodie said...


nice to have met you at pub theo yesterday. I'll try and find some excuse to vistit Edinburgh soon, or perhaps we could meet u o when you are through at ICC?


2/23/2006 03:14:00 pm  
Blogger lynn said...

Very interested to note that you have just read the Ron Buckland book "Children and the Gospel". What did you think of it?
I've just read another of his books, "Children and God" as the Children and the gospel book was out on loan when I tried to get it from the library ;-)

I like his clear, concise style of writing. Me, I like my theology books simple!


3/04/2006 02:58:00 pm  
Blogger Jamie said...

Hi Lynn,

Buckland's book is good, especially as an intro to child theology. It covers some aspects of child development, as well as how this relates to the theology of sin, the kingdom, evangelism, conversion, the church and the Holy Spirit. There are lots of much-needed challenges to our long-held beliefs about children, espcially as regards original sin and their status before God.

If you want another (more radical) perspective, I'd recommend "Postmodern Children's Ministry" by Ivy Beckwith, which I am reading at the moment. That'll blow your socks off!


3/06/2006 10:32:00 pm  
Blogger boxthejack said...

what do universalists, e.g. Moltmann, make of Luke 13:22-30?

3/08/2006 09:23:00 am  
Blogger Jamie said...

We're going to have a CST session on Universalism soon. Stuart Weir has offered to come and join us for that one and share his thoughts.

In the meantime, the Universalism thread continues here with the vexed question of teeth-gnashing. ;)

3/08/2006 12:01:00 pm  
Blogger stuartweir said...

To boxthejack,

I want to challenge your view that mission is at stake if an, ultimate, permanent, retributory hell is omitted from our theology of the gospel.

Firstly, how can the gospel be ‘good news’ at all if hell is the net result of not following Jesus? ‘Gospel’ would be a contradictory term if this is the case. Hell is a blackmail type of threat to those who don’t want to believe in Jesus, for whatever reason. How can we truly love and follow him if we know deep down that he will crush, torment the majority of humanity that has ever lived eternally? Am I content to follow a God like that? Is it true voluntary love and devotion to God if I am coerced to follow him purely from utter fear of being in a tormenting hell for eternity if I don’t? This is not true devotion. This is doing what is necessary to escape bitter consequences. I don’t want to follow a God like that.

If hell is one of the key components of the ‘gospel’, we then have a very negative gospel. I can’t imagine a perfect triune God being so negative in his approach to us.

This view portrays the Trinity as some kind of cruel and capricious God, who in his ‘love’ has died and resurrected for the clearing of our sins and our justification (Rom. 4.25), and on the other hand, punishes those who don’t personally respond to this with the threat, and eventually the reality of everlasting horror. This picture of the Trinity just doesn’t seem stable or consistent. No wonder protest atheism exists! This understanding of the Trinity’s dealings with humanity is a major put-off, and I can sympathise deeply with those who have trouble with this view.

The problem is that apparently, this God who is meant to be ‘love’ in his very essence (1 Jn. 4.8) seems schizophrenic. He appears as love to us now, but turns into the incredible hulk for eternity for those who haven’t followed him. Is this what we see when we read Jesus in the gospels? I don’t see that. And we must remember that Jesus is the image of the invisible God, the express likeness of his being (Col.1.15, Heb.1.3).

Jesus does indeed talk of hell in the gospels, but I think Tom Wright is correct when he persuasively shows that the hell that Jesus predicted was the coming judgment of AD70 to Jerusalem because the religious leaders of his day (who were meant to be guiding people well in following Yahweh), but who weren’t doing as their responsibility demanded them. Thus, judgment was to follow. Jesus was seen as a prophet of judgment in a way, like Jeremiah was to Israel previously. The hell of judgment came in the form of the Romans destroying Jerusalem along with their temple. This left the religious right in a huge quandary, as their whole life revolved around the temple. It was no more.

Another thing that doesn’t convince me of the traditional interpretation of an eternal hell is that there is no doctrine of hell at all in the Old Testament. In the NIV ‘hell’ is the word they use to describe ‘the grave’ in the OT, but there is no conception this eternal torment that evangelicals talk of. After all, the OT is 4 fifths, or so, of our sacred text. Funny that it isn’t mentioned at all the way we talk of it.

Surely mission gets its motivation from the ‘good news’ that Jesus has done something incredible for us all at Calvary?

Also, if hell is eternal, as in everlasting, doesn’t this mean that retributory justice is never realised, because it never ends. If it ends, then justice is done.

3/09/2006 06:19:00 pm  
Blogger lynn said...

"If you want another (more radical) perspective, I'd recommend "Postmodern Children's Ministry" by Ivy Beckwith, which I am reading at the moment"

Hi again Jamie,
Guess what! I have just read the Ivy Beckwith book! It went back to the library just two weeks ago, but I have actually ordered it too. Not that I am acting true to type or anything, but I really liked the front cover.

Yup, I'm one of those gals who buys a bottle of wine based on its aesthetic qualities, particularly on how attractive the label is :::::::I can see you shaking your head now!!::::

I actually stored some of my favourite bits from her book. Here's one:
"God has given children an innate ability to know and love God. Children are strongly attracted to God from birth. This is the quality that needs to be nurtured from birth onward, both at home and in the faith community. Our children need to be told they are Christians and treated as such – invited as full members of the community, given opportunities to lead in the community and loved as Jesus calls us to love each other as a sign of God’s love for the world". (p63)

BTW, I found Chris Leach's "popular theology" book, Children and the Holy Spiirit, to be remarkably similar in outlook to Ms Beckwith's and immensely readable for people from all kinds of backgrounds.

Cheers me dear, off to open a bottle of Blossom Hill Zinfandel (pretty pink colour, lovely label)

Lynn ;-)

3/09/2006 09:51:00 pm  

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