Wesley House Research Seminar in Theology


Postgraduate students, staff, researchers and others with a special interest in theology are warmly invited to participate in this forum for reading and conferring together about the things of God.

You may register interest in attending with the Wesley House Director of Research, the Revd Dr Andrew Stobart, ajs324@cam.ac.uk, 01223 765891. (Registering interest not compulsory, but will enable you to request access to prior reading online)

Thursday 2nd May 2019, 2pm

Professor Clive Marsh: If All Theology is Interstitial, then Whose Culture Matters Most? (Or What if No-One’s Does?)

This paper flows out of my recent work exploring the ways in which Christian doctrinal formulation is affected by cultural engagement (A Cultural Theology of Salvation, OUP 2018). In this paper I address the ‘so what?’ question arising from that study (e.g. for mission and practical theology, and not just for systematics). If it is true that theology is formulated anew in any generation in the ‘in-between’ spaces between a wide variety of cultural contexts, then what is actually going on here and what happens to the content of theology as a result? Accepting that any straightforward normativity of (pure?) theology (e.g. as formulated by [dead?] White, middle-/upper-class, [German or North American], heterosexual, males) has rightly been severely challenged by a range of liberation and contextual theologies, where does this leave doctrine? And if doctrinal formulation is not what it was, then what happens to belief? Are there Christian insights and convictions which are stable and resilient enough to be able to be ‘passed on’ or ‘worked with’ without it being implied that these are ‘context-less’? I believe that there are, and that the work of all theology requires such an answer. But what this means need some unpicking and unpacking, especially from the perspective of the ’culture clashes’ which contextual approaches to theology inevitably create.