Ten Theological Goals for 2017 image

Ten Theological Goals for 2017

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No posts I write attract more mockery from my friends, or eye-rolls from my wife, than the lists of things I hope to achieve in a year. But I remember the time when "blog" was still short for "web log": an opportunity to tell your friends what you were up to, whether travelling, writing, reading, cooking, playing sport or whatever. I have also found it helpful to make some goals public, for accountability as much as anything—and I sometimes get asked what I'm working on, if I'm writing anything new, and so on, so it seems a good idea to write it down. So in that spirit I shall heroically defy the scoffers once more, and list ten theological goals for 2017.

1. Finalise my PhD for publication. The marvellous Jennie Pollock is doing most of the editing on it—that woman is a magician with an index—and I’m hoping to get the final version of The Warning-Assurance Relationship in 1 Corinthians off to Tübingen in January. It’s a privilege to have Mohr Siebeck including it in their Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament Zwei series (although I’ll be the first to admit that it won’t be the most commercially successful book I’ve written).

2. Read a book a week. Last year was an anomaly for me, because of a job transition, and I was also given a prophetic word at a key time by Mick Taylor, which challenged me to work hard in this fallow year. This year things are different, and I’ll do well to read half as many. But it’s good to have goals, methinks.

3. Fast social media for Lent. As usual.

4. Complete the manuscript for my next book, Echoes of Exodus: Tracing the Theme of Redemption through Scripture, which is being published by Crossway and co-written with my friend Alastair Roberts. A chance conversation with Bobby Jamieson last year convinced me that popularising is probably the thing I’m best at, so rather than trying to write deeply original and profound things, I might be better off using my time to translate the deeply original and profound things that more intelligent friends are saying, and present them to a popular audience. Hence this project, which I am massively enjoying writing. In a nutshell: the exodus makes appearances everywhere in Scripture, you’ve probably missed many of them, and it will enhance your understanding of the Bible and your joy in God if you encounter some more.

5. Teach a three day THINK conference on reading Galatians 500 years after Luther. Preparing for this takes months of reading and preparation, but it is well worth it (at least for me!)

6. Finish a draft of the following book, Eucharismatic (Zondervan, 2018). This book, and in fact this title, are an attempt to share my main theological passion at the moment: the idea that you can have the best of both worlds, the old and the new, the liturgical and the experiential, the depth and the bounce, the eucharistic and the charismatic. I’m sure I’ll be saying more about this in the months to come.

7. Communicate and embody this vision at a couple of conferences in the US. Specifically, I’m going to be in the DC area in July and Oklahoma in October, and this idea will probably pop up in both of them. My sense is that the divorce between eucharistic and charismatic is more obvious in America than the UK, but I could be wrong.

8. Focus on the Gospels in my personal devotions. The last two years I’ve had an Old Testament focus in my devotional times, but this year I want to spend a lot more time in the Gospels, with the help of Richard Hays, Stanley Hauerwas and no doubt others. I’m really looking forward to this.

9. Get my head around the eighteenth century. My ignorance of this massively important period is embarrassing; the map of Europe is an enigma to me, the Spanish Wars of succession a total fog, and I only realised two weeks ago that the Battle of Blenheim didn’t take place in Oxfordshire. I’m hoping to fix that a bit.

10. Engage more with open theism. More people take this seriously than I would have thought, given what seem to me to be extremely shaky exegetical, historical and philosophical foundations. I’ll probably read, think and write a bit more about this in 2017.

More importantly than any of this, of course, is the regular work of study, prayer, preaching, family, and following Jesus in everyday life—so all of these goals are conditional on having the time, capacity and spiritual space to pursue them. But if so, these are some of the things I’ll be shooting for. Happy New Year!

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