Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Congress 2013 - Victoria

As promised a report from Congress. I attend Congress every year, primarily for two societies: the Canadian Evangelical Theological Association (CETA) and the Canadian Theological Society(CTS). Both are amazing. CETA is a fairly generous conversation amongst Canadian evangelical theologians and the people who study us. CETA was not well attended this year despite some really interesting papers. What is up with the Heidegger love at Regent? I didn't see that one coming. Attendance was actually down all around this year, the problem with having non-central meetings every third year or so. What is most encouraging with CETA is that our regional conferences in concert with universities like McMaster, Northwestern, Trinity, and Tyndale, those conferences are taking off big time. I worry a bit about the loss of non-evangelical voices in our conversations, but having just reviewed 64 paper proposals there are some solid entries in there. (Word of advice: if you propose a paper avoid jargon.) This year I presented a paper at CETA on the impact of doing worship in third spaces (alternative liturgical settings). 
Student Luncheon CTS
I am also part of CTS, in fact I am now their communications officer. CTS is an ecumenical (in the broadest sense) conversation. As a Canadian conversation Christianity is the most common religious framework, but I did take in a Muslim scholar doing an amazing paper on Muslim-Christian dialogue. For CTS I organized my second joint CTS/CETA panel. Last year, you might recall, I did one on the Armageddon Factor. It was very well received. This year we had a decent size group (about 22) for Eschatology and Ecology. This time I sat on the panel approaching this conversation from an evangelical theological perspective. In fact when it was my turn to present, instead of using the traditional read a paper approach I dropped into a somewhat autobiographical approach. I spoke about the problems with evangelicals and ecological issues and how reading deep ecology (Thomas Berry in particular) shook my worldview. My way into the deeper conversation about ecology came through an inaugurated eschatology. So I presented four benefits of an inaugurated eschatology for the person engaging the environmental crises of our day. 

The first two have to do with God's part or role in this ecological response. I spoke about the proleptic kingdom, meaning that when we experience the kingdom we experience the full potential of all the kingdom can and will be. Ladd talks about it being a taste, that the taste is real. This opens up the second resource (benefit) which is that with God in it there are possibilities not possible from our ability or work alone. This is a great counter to the paralysis one often feels when confronted with the gravity of our environmental situation and our complicity in making it so bad.

The second two have to do with our part or role in responding to the crises. This began with the idea that God is actively inviting us to participate with God in the renewal of the earth. God's redemptive presence is what we are called to cooperate with. There is a real call to act, but not out of our resources, rather from the vision God gives us. But because it is us acting, albeit with God, we can really screw it up. The check and bounds here is that the kingdom is also provisional. This provisional nature allows for a hermeneutic circle by which we always check our efforts against the kingdom vision, trusting God to continually refine our approaches. Provisional means we can ask hard questions about justice and trust that God's kingdom is big enough to allow justice for all (including the earth). 

All in all it was a great trip. Victoria is beautiful and I stayed not far from Royal Roads University and its amazing gardens. I got to meet face-to-face some friends from that coast who I have known through the internet. I also got to hang out with Rik Leaf, one of my favourite people. 

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the report which was almost as good as being there in person.