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Theology in Scotland 21 no. 1 (Spring 2014)

This issue of the journal comprises the winning entry in the Fraser Prize essay competition for 2013 and the text of lectures given at the First New College Church, Academy, Society Conference on ‘Mission and the Church’ held at New College, Edinburgh on 10 May, 2013.


Does the church in Scotland still need theology?

Liam Fraser (doctoral student at New College, University of Edinburgh)

Liam Fraser’s prize-winning essay takes the approach of standing back to question the question of whether the church needs theology. This takes the form of investigating what the church in Scotland is like now, and also what theology has become and might become within it.


Belief and unbelief: Two sides of a coin

Grace Davie (Professor Emeritus in the Sociology of Religion at the University of Exeter)

Grace Davie writes regarding the nature of religion in modern Europe, and addresses factors of key significance. She identifies five significant factors affecting contemporary religion in Europe: the cultural heritage, the historical role of the state church, new models of the growing market in religion, the arrival in Europe of new religious groups, and the growth of the secular lobby. All of these subsist alongside each other. Davie makes the interesting case that the same factors are equally present in unbelief.

A contemporary perspective on mission: The blue flower

Alison Milbank (Associate Professor in the Department of Theology and Religious Studies at the University of Nottingham)

Alison Milbank offers an aesthetic approach to models of mission and evangelism, arguing for a model which is responsive to cultural production. Drawing on Romanticism, particularly the work of Novalis, she challenges some current understandings of mission and suggests an alternative approach through philosophical dialogue.

Walking the tightrope: The missiology of Tom Allan for the church today

Sandy Forsyth (doctoral student and from September 2014 Hope Trust Research Fellow at New College, University of Edinburgh)

Tom Allan’s book The Face of my Parish and his leadership of the Tell Scotland movement in the 1950s both proved to be hugely significant in guiding the development of mission in Scotland in the post-war era. In this paper, Sandy Forsyth examines both Allan’s missiology and its context, looking in particular at how the impact of the decision to bring the Billy Graham Crusade to Scotland changed the public perception of mission, while at the same time undermining Allan’s original vision of the local congregation as agent in mission.

Seeking the truth: Relating theological scholarship and new models of church

Paul Hammond (doctoral student at St Mary’s College, University of St Andrews)

Theological engagement with ‘fresh expressions of church’ tends either to take the form of a presentation of different models to be followed or the development of overarching theological concepts. Paul Hammond’s paper however suggests a third way. He points out that current analysis of the development of fresh expressions of church seeks to identify implicit theologies; moreover, the further development of practice-derived theological reflection will require the active participation of those who are directly engaged with fresh expressions of church.

A theology of missio Dei

John Flett (Habilitand at the Institut für Interkulturelle Theologie und Interreligiöse Studien, Wuppertal, Germany)

In the popular usage, the primary definition of missio Dei is that mission is not something the church does, but God does. John Flett follows this with two further affirmations: as God is missionary, so the community which worships Him is missionary; and secondly that mission is set within an eschatological perspective and becomes the determining factor ‘between the times’. This article aims to correct the popular definition of the term by drawing on the work of Karl Barth, arguing that reconciliation across boundaries lies at the heart of the missio Dei.

Books reviewed:

  • Kenneth R. Himes, Christianity and the Political Order: Conflict, Cooptation, and Cooperation
  • Myk Habets, Theology in Transposition: A Constructive Appraisal of T. F. Torrance
  • Alan P. F. Sell, The Theological Education of the Ministry: Soundings in the British Reformed and Dissenting Traditions
  • Laurence A. B. Whitley, A Great Grievance: Ecclesiastical Lay Patronage in Scotland until 1750

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The Rev. Dr Ian D. Maxwell
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