2018: A Theological Look Ahead image

2018: A Theological Look Ahead

I’ve made a habit of starting each year with a theological look ahead: a few headings under which I can summarise the things I’m hoping to do (or not do) in the months to come. Usually, of course, the most significant theological issue of the year is not something you can anticipate in January—last year’s discussions about divine simplicity, authority in the blogosphere and the toxicity of the “evangelicalism” label, for instance—so there is necessarily something provisional about any predictions. Nevertheless, goals provide a level of focus that helps me, whether in deciding what to accept and what to decline, or in making the best use of time that would otherwise be frittered away online. Here are a few for 2018, God willing.

1. This year’s THINK conference is on The Future of Complementarity (prompting one wit to start calling it the PINK conference), and I want it to be excellent. We’ve made a number of changes to previous years, including venue (London), type of content (topical rather than based on a biblical book), and speakers (Hannah Anderson and Alastair Roberts—who, not wanting to brag, wrote the two most thoughtful articles I read last week, namely this and this). If you want to join us, you can book in here.

2. Some seriously chunky preaching serieses await me this year. Preaching the gospel to a local congregation, as part of a preaching team, is the most important aspect of my job, and this year that will involve going through Philippians, Exodus and all the little letters (Philemon, 2 Peter, 2&3 John, Jude) in London, among other things. I’ll also be preaching on the Ten Commandments in Eastbourne this year, having gone through the Lord’s Prayer and the Nicene Creed last year, which makes me feel a bit like a medieval catechism.

3. Devotionally, the next three biblical books I’m planning to work through are Proverbs (with Tim and Kathy Keller’s The Way of Wisdom, which I’m already finding hugely helpful), Leviticus (with Ephraim Radner’s Brazos commentary), and Revelation (with Peter Leithart’s two volume monster which is due out in February). I’m really looking forward to all three.

4. Two books of mine are coming out this year, which is hugely exciting (at least for me). In April, Crossway will be releasing Echoes of Exodus, which I’ve co-written with Alastair Roberts, and which I hope will help a load of people see biblical connections they may have missed and find joy in God. (A challenge for you: one page of the book was written entirely by Alastair. See if you can guess which one.) Then, in October, Zondervan are bringing out Spirit and Sacrament: An Invitation to Eucharismatic Worship. The material here has been something of a life message for me in the last few years, and I’ve worked harder at the writing than I ever have before, so I’m hopeful it will encourage people.

5. No additional overseas travel or Sunday preaching in other churches. That may not sound like a goal, but saying no is harder than saying yes, so it really is. (One or two are in the diary already, but that’s it.)

6. I have a couple of ideas percolating for new books, which I’m sketching out at the moment, but I’m running scared from anything resembling a deadline. I bit off more than I could chew on the writing front this year, and I don’t want to make the same mistake again.

7. There are a bunch of books I’m looking forward to in 2018. Some of them are new releases which I’ve had the privilege of seeing in advance, like Andy McCullough’s Global Humility, Tom Wright’s Paul: A Biography, Matt Chandler’s Take Heart, Terry Virgo’s Jesus Tastes Better, and Jack Deere’s Even in Our Darkness. Others I have bought or pre-ordered: Leithart’s Defending Constantine, D. H. Dilbeck’s Frederick Douglass, Camille Paglia’s Free Women, Free Men, Jordan Peterson’s 12 Rules for Life, and a few others. Alastair’s Heirs Together may come out, which will take me a month, and I want to get Dorothy Sayers’ Creed or Chaos. I’ve also got some more Plato, Shakespeare, Lewis and poetry to read.

8. I haven’t been to a Biblical Studies conference for a couple of years, mainly because of my new job in London, but I’d like to this year if I can. BNTC? ETS? Who knows?

9. Last year I focused on the eighteenth century a bit, and would love to read more history this year, particularly world history. I’m halfway through the massive Penguin History of the World, which is exceptionally good, and I’ll probably read some more Hobsbawm, but beyond that I’m not sure. Any recommendations?

10. Finally I want to handle social media in a sustainable and happy way, so I’ll fast it for Lent as usual, but probably disappear sporadically at other times too. Just to squash any rumours that I have somehow been “captured” ...

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