Paul writes – I’ve recently read an interesting article (pub. 2000) by Patrick Keifert
"The new era of mission in North American warrants the return of the CONGREGATION as the primal location of the study of theology at every level of theological education, including schools of theology..."
Patrick begins his essay:
“THE CONGREGATION HAS RETURNED TO THE STUDY OF THEOLOGY AND RELIGION.
The warrants for this return of the congregation include: (1) a major shift in scholarly canons for research; (2) the return of major premodern theological themes to theology, including and especially trinitarian theology and eschatology within an ecumenical and missional ecclesiology; (3) the growing sense that the moral life and ethical reflection come out of the particular, the local, the face-to-face engagement with the other in contrast to the abstract, universalistic moral theories of classic modernity; and (4) a growing sense of a new era of mission in North America and internationally. In this article, I explore a few themes of this fourth warrant, the growing sense of a new era of mission and its implications for the study of theology…”
It’s a useful article which highlights well, a number of the challenges and opportunities we find before us at the level of the local congregation; particularly as we work to reorientate these congregations for mission within their own post-Christendom contexts. Increasingly theology, theological reflection, and theological skills need to be recovered and grown in the midst of ordinary and everyday narratives, myths and symbols of our lives as congregations. We need to recover the practice of corporately inhabiting scripture in conversation with culture and our own stories as congregations.
I agree wholeheartedly but as I reflect (and have been for quite some time) on a local, significantly aging, mainline congregation, it seems easier said than done.
Have a read of Patrick’s essay and see what you think. You’ll find the PDF here. More from Patrick in the coming weeks.