While we wait, in eschatological hope, for further posts from Ed and John, I thought I’d say a bit now in advance of a more substantive post later. I want to say three things. The first is that I love the posts from Alec and Brendan. (Of course I do.) They articulate a vision of theology that I find attractive and important, and one that I think is badly needed on the contemporary theological scene. Obviously I would love for this form of theology to be identified especially with Oriel.
It’s not an entirely crazy idea. I might write a whole post about this at some point, but no kidding, there really is a case to be made that tiny Oriel College has historically been one the most important centers for theology and philosophy of religion in the world. The idea that there is a current generation of Oriel theologians who avowedly want to pick up the flag of analytic theology and carry it forward is something I wholeheartedly welcome. (And, of course, in my own research, I am personally and professionally committed to advancing this kind of theology, so again it isn’t surprising that I think that.)
The second point—which is not to take back the first point—is that since this is a public forum, I’m a little nervous about giving the wrong impression. To be clear: you don’t have to be orthodox, or Christian, or indeed any kind of religious adherent at all to study Theology or Philosophy and Theology at Oriel. (In terms of numbers, I’d say that only about half the students I have admitted and taught have been religious.) And the goal of the tutors here is never to make students better Christians, but to make them better thinkers. I trust that’s obvious, but it bears saying explicitly.
Maybe I’m a bit sensitive about this point because the recent undergraduate admissions round is still fresh in my mind. I have visions of next year’s applicants pouring over the blog for cues about how to succeed in their interviews, and I wouldn’t want them to get the wrong idea. But at the same time, I am definitely not asking my co-bloggers to restrain their rhetoric or otherwise tone down the Jesus.
The third point is just that it’s pretty easy to tell the difference between real blogs, where real people actually write about things they care about, versus bullshit PR blogs, where no one ever says anything interesting or controversial because they are afraid of the repercussions. This is clearly a real blog, and I like that.