02 May 2006

Rabbit’s friends and relations

I’ve just dicovered a communal blog devoted to research into the theology of my Doktorvater, Colin Gunton. If you’re interested, it can be found here. Inevitably Colin, in his own gentle way, had a very profound effect on the way I approach theology. Sadly he is no longer around to contribute to theological thought in the UK, but it is good to see that a number of people still take his work very seriously.

That led me to ask myself who else has had a significant impact on the way I do theology. I surprised myself by coming up with only three names. Even stranger, given that it was one of my main areas of research, none of them has had much to do with the contemporary dialogue between theology and the physical sciences.

After Colin, I think I would put his PhD supervisor, Robert Jenson. The main reason for this is that, having more or less taught myself theology, it was a little book by Jenson that gave my rather inchoate thoughts some structure.

A third, very significant influence on my thinking has been Dan Hardy, for two very different reasons. First, the very efficient demolition job he did on the first research paper I ever gave (at one of the Durham theology research seminars) made me do some serious thinking about the way you do theology. Second, he co-authored with David Ford, what is simply one of the best theology books of the past quarter century: Jubilate: Theology in Praise.

Last but not least, I have to mention Lesslie Newbigin. Lesslie wasn’t a great theologian, he was something more – a saint, someone who went further than most of us in integrating his theological insights into his life.