'There is some great thinking happening within our Union'
A report from the recent Theology Live conference, which seeks to provide a space for Baptists involved in theological research. By Andy Goodliff
Last week we held the second Theology Live one day conference, building on the success of the first one in December 2017. The conference is an opportunity for Baptists, many who are local church pastors, to do theology together.
This year saw 16 papers offered covering a wide range of topics engaging with the Bible, theology, preaching, and the arts. Around 50 people attended the day, held at Bloomsbury Central Baptist Church in the heart of London. Those attending came from the north, south, east and west, and even Vienna in Austria!
Theology Live emerged from a desire to raise the profile of Baptists doing theology. There are a good number of folk doing post-graduate research, but few places to share it. There is a perceived gap between the academy and the local church, and we want to bridge that gap: this is demonstrated by how much of the theology done by Baptists is contextual, arising from local church or public issues.
The day is designed to give younger (and more mature!) scholars an opportunity to share their work, and to say to the wider Baptist family there is some great thinking happening within our Union. It's thinking that is wrestling with how to interpret the Bible. It's thinking that seeks to address social issues, like male suicide, modern slavery, gender and racism. It's thinking that is discovering the value of the visual alongside the auditory.
As well as the papers, there was the opportunity to be together, to encourage one another, to ask questions, to make new friendships. Baptist theology can never be a lonely exercise - it must be done in community, primarily the local congregation - but it is always good to do it alongside those gifted to think theologically.
Theology Live will return in 2020. In the meantime we are planning to develop a new open-source journal to share the papers from the day and others in written form.