Who am I today? The problem of the self in late modernity (Glynn Harrison)
We live a culture obsessed with questions of identity. But what is personal identity? Why does it matter? And why should we care? This paper will explore how the self came to be a problem, how today’s expressive individualism failed to provide a solution, and - briefly - how the biblical vision of what it means to be truly human speaks into our modern dilemma.
Glynn Harrison was formerly Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Bristol, where he was also a practicing consultant psychiatrist. He speaks widely on issues of faith and psychology, and mental health and neuroscience. His books include 'The Big Ego Trip' and 'A Better Story: God, sex and human flourishing' (both IVP/SPCK)
Between your legs, between your ears and between the pages: Reflections on a Biblical response to the transgender movement (Matt Waldock)
"Sex is what is between your legs; gender is what is between your ears." Chaz Bono's popular definition of the basis of transgenderism has become the pervasive opinion in a movement that continues to grow in momentum in Western secular media. The debate however also rages within Christianity, in 2017 the Nashville Statement was published, a fourteen article positional declaration by those representing conservative evangelical Christianity. This was countered by the pro-transgender Christian position in the Nazareth Statement. My paper will examine three aspects of this discussion: firstly, the Biblical argument for gender being both binary and static; secondly, how this orthodox view presents a picture of what it means to flourish in manhood and womanhood; thirdly, reflections on how we tell this counter cultural story to our communities and welcome into our churches those who struggle with gender dysphoria.
Matt Waldock is co-pastor of City Church Manchester. Matt studied theatre at University and went on to become a high school teacher and campus minister before entering pastoral ministry. He is married to Jacky who is a musician and soundscape composer.
Body-building: enabling, envisioning and equipping Christians from the margins (Helen Thorne)
Jesus’ disciples were far from a homogenous group. His apostles didn’t just include the educated doctor but the local fishermen and a reviled tax-collector too. Indeed, across the early church we see leaders from a multitude of different ethnic, socio-economic and educational backgrounds. All too often in the 21st century, though, we raise leaders who look just like us.
Using case studies from London City Mission, and selected partner churches, this paper will look at the heart issues that drive us to make leaders in our own image; provide biblical reflection on the call to grow diverse teams and offer practical suggestions on how to help those with little formal education and chaotic or disadvantaged pasts grow to be the Christ-like leaders the church needs.
Helen Thorne is the Director of Training and Mentoring at London City Mission – the home of the Pioneer programme, a scheme designed to liberate those from a deprived urban context into ministry. She is the author of several books including “5 things to pray for your city” and “Walking with domestic abuse sufferers”.
Racial reconciliation and the Gospel (Andy Longwe)
This year marks the 50-year anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s death. It is a salutary reminder to us in the church to stop, think, repent, and act regarding the evil of racism.
Thankfully, growing numbers of reformed and evangelical Christians, are beginning to address the sensitive topic of race in a thoughtful, biblical and public manner. In recent years numerous Christians leaders and denominations have openly owned and confessed the evil of racism - a sin that has been left unexposed and secretly lurking within their church communities and hearts.
It is great that much progress has taken place, but much more needs to happen, especially within our local churches. Therefore, this paper will be a short reflection on how we can navigate some of the complex questions about race especially as a sin the gospel reveals and heals; and will give some thoughts on how we can contribute to racial unity in the church and culture in the future.
Andy Longwe is the minister of Cumbernauld Free Church of Scotland (CFC). He is engaged to Marina MacDonald. CFC is an urban church revitalization in a needy housing project in one of Glasgow’s largest commuter towns. Andy is recent graduate of Edinburgh Theological Seminary.