Grenz Ricoeur Shelf

Grenz Ricoeur Shelf

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Introducing Participatio Dei

Rublev's Icon of the Trinity
Hey all. I’d like to introduce you to my new blog, Participatio Dei. The page itself is unfinished and you’ll find that some parts are ‘under construction,’ but I’ll be adding more here and there as time goes along. This isn’t actually my first go at blogging, my other blog flies under what I initially created as my online user name – DesperateTheologian. Since my family and I moved to the UK for my PhD studies, the feeling has grown stronger that this moniker simply wasn’t working for me anymore. I’ll say more in later posts about where ‘DesperateTheologian’ came from, but suffice it here to say that I realized I had a decision to make – either rebrand the old blog or create a new one from scratch. I didn’t really have any animosity against continuing with wordpress, but with some gentle persuasion from my wife, I chose to make a clean break and give blogger a try.

The change of blogs is an attempt to achieve more congruency with where I am currently at in life. Last August my wife C.C., daughter Damaris, and I moved from west Texas to Scotland for me to begin my PhD studies in Systematic Theology at the University of Edinburgh, School of Divinity (New College). More will surely be coming later, but here is a brief description of what I’m doing: my proposed research concerns the integration and convergence of the North American Baptist theologian Stanley Grenz with the thought of Continental hermeneutical philosopher Paul Ricoeur around the area of ecclesiology. I am writing on the subject of 'Church, Gender, and Mission' with the trinitarian and narrative anthropology and ecclesiology of Grenz taking the lead in conversation with the narrative and hermeneutical anthropology and philosophy of Paul Ricoeur. My aim is to creatively and constructively develop what I am calling a 'hermeneutical ecclesiology' imagined in trinitarian, narrative, and missional perspectives. The proposed title for my thesis is: Church, Gender, and Mission: A Hermeneutical Ecclesiology in Trinitarian, Narrative, and Missional Perspectives in Conversation with Stanley Grenz and Paul Ricoeur.

That I’m doing my dissertation on Grenz and Ricoeur is no accident. They have both been seminal influences on me, not only academically, but also in my own spirituality, sojourn of faith, and ministry (as a pastor, church planter, and chaplain) as well. There’s more to tell here of course, but without giving too much away right now I’ll just say that, though I was unfortunately never able to meet him in person before his untimely passing, Grenz especially has served as a theological mentor to me from afar and has been my most profound theological influence. Grenz was committed to doing theology in a thoroughgoing and determinedly trinitarian manner. For him the triune God was the “Divine Community of Father, Son, and Spirit.” And at the core of his theology was human ecclesial participation in the very life of the Divine Community, which always comes ‘in Christ’ and through the Spirit. The name of the blog resonates with Grenz’s influence on me, and is meant to evoke the kind of trinitarian participation that stands at the center of his theological project – thus, Participatio Dei, ‘participation in (the triune) God.’

I can’t say how this particular experiment in blogging will go exactly and I make no promises. Other things – family, friends, church, research, reading, and especially the dissertation I’m supposed to be writing – take precedence. But I’m going to give it a go. The danger here of course is that this space simply ends up being a collection of various quotes I come across while doing my research or nothing more than a string of book reviews. I realize that would be potentially boring for a lot of people, but if that happens I won’t really sweat it all that much. I’m not rebooting the blog in order to provide commentary on the latest internet buzz or to chase the latest controversy on the web (something that seems all too easy in the world of blogging). There will probably be some about my story and church experience, as well as a lot on theology and philosophy (mostly of the Continental variety, a la Ricoeur, etc) with some biblical studies thrown in, in addition to some analysis of the intersection of theology, church, and culture. And yes, there will be plenty of quotes from my research and book reviews as well. Ultimately, in a spirit fitting to Grenz’s project, my aim is to be an ecumenical, ecclesial, and missional theologian.

Along the way, my hope is that this blog provides me with the space to do some writing on a regular basis and to provide those who drop buy an entryway into my life and research. The reader should be aware though, that as with all things, I do not claim to have the proverbial ‘final word.’ My thoughts here will be provisional, what we might call in the spirit of Ricoeur, ‘theological attestations.’ My musings will reflect our common existence ‘in between’ the times, and a theology done ‘on the way’ in and with and for the as the church as a eucharistic fellowship, on our common sojourn with and in the triune God. A quick glance at the smaller print under the header should give you an indication of what one should expect when they visit. The blessings and peace of Jesus our liberating King be with you. I do hope you’ll drop in on occasion.

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