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Talking Theology

Author: Philip Plyming

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The podcast of Cranmer Hall, the theological college within St John's College, Durham University. We explore life’s big questions, and look to join the dots between theology, church, and the world. Philip Plyming, Warden of Cranmer Hall, is joined by a wide range of guests with a wealth of knowledge and experience.
52 Episodes
What does psychology have to say about identity and belonging in the world and the church? How does Scripture challenge the idea that belonging to one another involves being homogenous? How do stories of people being excluded within the church undermine the gospel? Why does pursuing belonging require transformation rather than staying the same? How do we see the Holy Spirit in the Church taking us on a journey of authentic belonging?  Dr Sanjee Perera is a cognitive ecclesiologist and is the Archbishops’ Adviser on Minority Ethnic Anglican Concerns for the Church of England.  
What is bioethics and why does it dominate our ethical discussions today? What stories about our bodies does our culture tell us, and what might a theological account look like? How does a Christian view of life on earth challenge ideas of autonomy and freedom as the goal of human flourishing? And what difference does the resurrection of Jesus' body make to our imagination and hope for a bodily future?Robert Song is Professor of Theological Ethics at Durham University. For more information about Robert, see here. 
What is it that's so special about the Gospel of John? How do the stories of people meeting Jesus get us to the heart of the Fourth Gospel? What does life as friends of Jesus really involve? And what hope does it offer us today?Ian Galloway is director of the Free Church Track at Cranmer Hall in St John's College, Durham University. He previously spent over 30 years planting and leading City Church in Newcastle, and authored a book, Called to be Friends: Unlocking the Heart of John's Gospel.For more information about Ian, see here.
What is reconciliation really about, and why is it central to our understanding of the gospel? What's the link between prayer and reconciliation? What are the habits of a reconciling life? And how does embodying reconciliation witness to God's good news for the world today?The Most Reverend and Right Honourable Justin Welby has been Archbishop of Canterbury since 2013, and before that he served as Bishop of Durham, and was also a canon at Coventry Cathedral where he worked extensively in reconciliation ministry.For more information about Justin see here.
How do we connect scripture with living faithfully in the world? What are the habits that help the Church listen to the voice of God together? What happens when we read the Bible with those who are different to us? And what does it mean to grow in expectation that we will hear God today?Reverend Dr Helen Collins is currently Tutor in Practical Theology and Director of Formation at Trinity College in Bristol. She recently published Reordering Theological Reflection: Starting with Scripture.  For more information about Helen see here. 
Is the Book of Acts just the story of what happened then or what could also happen today?  What does the book of Acts tell us about the gospel that really changed the world? What was so distinct in those early Christian communities? And why is it important for the book of Acts to challenge us today?Dr Mark Bonnington is the Senior Leader at King’s Church Durham and teaches on the book of Acts within the MA programme here at Cranmer Hall. For more information about Mark see here.
What is climate grief, and what has God got to do with it? How does Jesus grieving over the particular help us understand how we might focus our climate grief? How does being attentive to what's in front of us help us to both grieve and hope? And how does all this help us follow Jesus day by day? Hannah Malcolm is currently training for ordained ministry and writing a PhD on theology, climate and ecological grief. She campaigns around the subject of climate justice and recently edited a book entitled Words for a Dying World: Stories of Grief and Courage from the Global Church. Our question today: why is a theology of climate grief necessary for the Church today?
Do our bodies really belong to us? How did Jesus eat and how does it speak to how we eat today? How do the sacraments speak to our bodily identity? What does it mean to break bread together? Where’s the good news for those of us who struggle with how we see food?Note: This podcast includes discussion of disordered eatingReverend Dr Liz Kent is the Director of the Wesley Study Centre at St John’s College in Durham and a Methodist minister in Chester-Le-Street. Her doctoral research at Durham University explored the Church and Eating Disorders. Our question today: What Role Does Eating Play in a Good Theology of the Body?
Is reading the Bible about more than simply looking for the right answer? What happens when you let children read a book of the Bible for themselves? What role should imagination play in enabling the scriptures to speak? And how can we all get to know the world of scripture? Dr Melody Briggs is Director of Studies at Lindisfarne College of Theology. She has taught theology in a range of churches, colleges and mission organisations for the last 30 years. She has has written several books on the ways children engage with scripture, including 'How Children Read Biblical Narrative: An Investigation of Children's Readings of the Gospel of Luke' (2017).
What sort of evidence do we have about the historical Jesus? What sources do the earliest accounts of Jesus draw on? What's at stake when people are named or unnamed in the four Gospels? Does eyewitness testimony help us resolve the tension between the Jesus of history and the Christ of faith? How can the Gospels feed our faith today?Richard Bauckham is Professor Emeritus at St Andrews University and Senior Scholar at Ridley Hall, Cambridge. Richard predominantly focuses on New Testament Writings and is the author of many books, including Jesus and the Eyewitnesses: The Gospels as Eyewitness Testimony.For more information about Richard Bauckham see here.
Is there a God spot in our brain? What does 2+2 have in common with belief in god? How is our brain designed to help up experience god? Why might religious experience not be all it’s cracked up to be? How does the plasticity of our brain give us hope?Alasdair Coles is professor of neuroimmunology at the University of Cambridge, an honorary consultant neurologist to Addenbrooke’s and Hinchingbrooke Hospitals and also an ordained minister in the Church of England. While his main academic focus is into new treatments for multiple sclerosis, his academic research has also led him to investigate religiosity and spiritual experiences from the standpoint of neurology. 
What is health really all about? Why should we avoid obvious and quick answers to mental health challenges? Why do names matter more than diagnosis? Can the faithful taking of medication be a spiritual practice? How might a perceived absence of God be part of faithful living?Professor John Swinton is Chair in Divinity and Religious Studies at the University of Aberdeen, and founded the university’s Centre for Spirituality, Health and Disability. For more than a decade John worked as a registered mental health nurse, and his academic career has seen him publish many books on the theology of disability, dementia, and mental health. His latest book, published this year is: Finding Jesus in the Storm: The Spiritual Lives of Christians with Mental Health Challenges.  For more information about John Swinton see here.
Is the Bible body positive? Were Paul and Plato singing from the same hymn sheet, or were their views of the body very different? How might seeing our bodies as precious change the way we take care of ourselves? What does real beauty look like? And what are our bodies telling us at the moment?Paula Gooder is a writer and lecturer in the New Testament and Chancellor of St Paul’s Cathedral in London. Her research areas focus on the writings of Paul with a particular focus on 2 Corinthians and on Paul’s understanding of the Body.For more information about Paula Gooder, see here.
How have multiculturalism and evangelism been entwined since the first days of the Church’s mission? How is multiculturalism part of the Christian faith’s DNA? Why is the Church of today more tribal than it was 2000 years ago? How should an awareness of each others gifts change how we do Church and leadership? How is the medium the message?Harvey Kwiyani lectures in African Christianity and Theology at Liverpool Hope University and has previously taught courses in Theology, African studies, and Mission at several colleges across Europe and Africa, as well as in the U.S. He is the founding editor of Missio Africanus: The Journal of African Missiology and his latest book, published this year, is Multicultural Kingdom: Ethnic Diversity, Mission and the Church.For more information about Harvey Kwiyani see here. 
What's going on when the Bible talks about reconciliation? How does reconciliation with others really start with us? What do forgiveness, lament, and apology have to do with authentic reconciliation? What might it look like to be reconciled to the earth? And how do stories of reconciliation help us see God at work today?Sarah Hills is Vicar of the parish of St Mary's, Holy Island, in the Diocese of Newcastle and was previously Coventry Cathedral's Canon for Reconciliation Ministry. She's also a fellow of St John's College, Durham.For more information about Sarah Hills, see here.
How does asking tough questions about what we believe support and service our faith? When might we need to be surprised by new discoveries and new voices about who God is? How should major events in our world impact how we think about God? And how does it all come down to love?Mike Higton is Professor of Theology and Ministry in the Department of Theology and Religion at Durham University. He is the author of The Life of Christian Doctrine and the shorter Grove book: Why Doctrine Matters.For more information about Mike Higton, see here
What does it feel like to exercise power as a Christian? What's the Bible got to say about government and power? What's the vocation of speaking truth to power? How does our identity as a child of God shape our engagement with politics? What difference does it make to pray for political opponents? The Reverend Baroness Maeve Sherlock OBE is a Labour Party life peer and shadow minister for Work and Pensions in the House of Lords. She is also an Assistant Curate at St Nicholas’ Church Durham, and a Fellow of St Chads College. 
Who was Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and why is he still important? How can we think and make decisions ethically, and what was Bonhoeffer's unique contribution to this? Why does our character matter as much as our obedience? How can we do the right thing when we don't have a template? How does trust in God's mercy free us from the paralysing fear of making the wrong decision?Revd Dr Jennifer Moberly is a tutor at Cranmer Hall, and teaches ethics and Christian spirituality. More about Jenny can be found here.
What does it mean to hope for the kingdom of God? Is hope for the present, or for the future, or can it be both? What in the Bible helps us to have hope for the future without losing concern for the present? And in our challenging world, how does hope help us both lament and praise? Dr Samuel Tranter is is a visiting fellow at Cranmer Hall, John’s College and will be taking up the role of Director of Postgraduate Studies at Cranmer Hall from August. For more about Sam, click here. 
Is ambition something Christians can have? What was Jesus ambitious for? What's the relationship between ambition and humility? Does our excellence always mean being better than others? How does prayer shape our ambition?The Right Reverend Dr Emma Ineson is the Bishop of Penrith in the Diocese of Carlisle, and was previously principal of Trinity College, Bristol.You can follow Emma on Twitter here.This episode was recorded 03/03/2020. 
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