We are a family of churches that combines worship, service and teaching in a wonderful and exciting way. All our doing and believing is based on the revealed will of God in scripture and the person of Jesus Christ. As such, it is helpful to frequently consider and discuss various parts of our practice in light of careful reading of and thinking about scripture. With all this in mind, for two days in April a dozen brave individuals from far flung corners of RM gathered for the second annual theology forum. Claire Williams tells us what happened:
Akin to the Christian councils of antiquity (but with much less violence) we met to discuss two pressing issues of concern for Relational Mission today. Those that were gathered in the sunny surroundings of High Leigh conference centre have particularly spent time with theology and academic theology. Some of us even read Greek! Therefore, the collective wisdom in the room meant that we could add a good deal of thought to the topics. The idea, of course, being that we had something practical and helpful to say that would bless the church and help us all to grow in our walk with Christ.
For the first day we considered the role and purpose of communion and baptism based on a paper written by Matt Fell, and on the second day we thought about a theology of Christian suffering based on Stef Liston’s paper. Both days were hugely challenging and influential with a good deal of thought and conversation had. Occasionally we disagreed and picked niggling holes in the words and ideas that one another had, all with a view that this would refine and improve what we thought and said. What does it mean if we say this rather than that? What are the consequences for practice in the church? How do people understand this idea? What about if we say it differently, changing this word or this idea? Crucially, does it reflect a clear understanding of scripture and God?
These are hugely challenging and important questions to face whenever theology and church mix. Mike Betts was there making sure that we didn’t go down any theological rabbit holes, asking pertinent questions and pulling us together at opportune moments. We made a good amount of progress in thinking about these important issues.
After sitting in the sunshine during breaks and eating meals together and spending some time together in the evenings we were able to put the ideas that we had down on paper. These ideas will be passed onto the churches in our family so that they can benefit from them.
Much to my disappointment it seems that we will not be producing a creed like the old councils did and there are to be no feuds between the members of the forum that span years or spill into aggression. Ah for the days of Cyril and Nestorius…