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Welcome

Welcome to my blog!  I've been toying with blogging for a little while now and have finally, with a little bit of encouragement from my friend Jenny, gotten round to it. I currently divide my time between reading, thinking, and writing a PhD (on Karl Barth's account of human responsibility, since you ask :-)) and my position as a trainee Anglican priest in Nottingham, UK. I'm interested  in issues in theology and ethics, as well as church and culture, and decided I would blog some thoughts and see how the conversation goes.

The name comes from the German for 'theological reflection' but I used it here because I particularly like the theological nuance of 'Nachdenken' which (as Barth points out) literally means 'thinking after', in this case 'thinking after God' - something that all theological reflection must do if it's to bear witness to the priority of God's grace. Anyway, this is all a bit of an experiement for me, so, welcome...and let the conversation begin...

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There's No Theology Without Prayer

It’s about fifteen years since I first read Helmut Thielicke’s masterful work “A Little Exercise for Young Theologians” (first English publication was 1962). I have read it at least biannually ever since: it usually takes an afternoon to get through, followed by a week or two for recovery and application! His wisdom is at once simple and profound; his manner simultaneously pastoral and commanding. Thielicke was a churchly theologian who knew the power and responsibility of theological study. It is not something to be undertaken lightly — for it trains those who are called to serve the people of God; nor should it be worn too heavily — for its speech about God is contingent.

This time in reading it I have been struck by Thielicke’s remarks about prayer as the proper context for theological study. It’s not a new idea, and is certainly something we pursue at St Mellitus College. But there’s a freshness in the way Thielicke expresses himself:

“Faith must mean more to us than a mere commodi…

My new book! Faithful Living: Discipleship, Creed, and Ethics

I’m a little late flagging this up here, but my book Faithful Living: Discipleship, Creed, and Ethics was released by SCM Press in December 2019 — a little bit earlier than expected (and hopefully in time for a few last-minute Christmas presents!). The basic premise of the book is a bit of a thought-experiment: I am interested in the kinds of decisions and actions that may be inferred or implied for those who believe and regularly recite the Nicene Creed. I don’t pretend this is an exhaustive moral commentary, nor that the basic approach isn’t without some qualification, but I do try and join the dots between the confessional substance of the Christian faith (with which many worshipers are familiar because of liturgical confession) and the every-day choices that most Christians are required to make. It comes from the conviction that doctrinal commitments implicate our moral lives. The blurb summarises it as follows:
How can the things we do and say in Church impact our lives and shape …

John Webster: Preacher *and* Theologian

It's not at all intended as a snide remark when I emphasise the *and* in the post-title: not all theologians are good preachers, and anybody who has been to church regularly for any length of time can tell you that not all preachers are competent theologians. John Webster, Professor of Systematic Theology at Aberdeen University (formerly Lady Margaret Professor at Oxford), is genuinely both. So I'm really excited about the arrival of this book with the postman this morning:


The Grace of Truth (Farmington Hills, Michigan: Oil Lamp Book, 2011) is a collection of 26 of Webster's sermons, mostly delivered when he was Canon of Christ Church, Oxford. Having only so far read the first couple I can't say too much with authority yet, but what I have seen is a rigorous attentiveness to the scriptural texts, and a keen eye for their application in human lives. There's also a great deal of creativity on display here too, which is as refreshing as it is intriguing: so, for examp…