Twelve Theological Hopes for 2016
1. Blog my way through the Heidelberg Catechism, one Sunday at a time. I still feel irked that my charismatic evangelical upbringing meant that I never realised it existed, far less how good it was, until very recently, and I’m going to do what I can to ensure that is not true for readers of Think Theology. So there.
2. Write a decent critique of a couple of resources that are filtering into churches I’m connected to, namely The Passion Translation and the Fivefold Survey. Both are well-intentioned, and both (at least as I see it) are highly problematic in a number of ways, so I’m hoping to engage constructively but critically with both of them.
3. Take Lent off, as I have done previously, to detox from the affirmation- and distraction-overload thing, although making an exception for #1 (which I will pre-post).
4. Pass my PhD viva, which hopefully will come somewhere in the late Spring, but ideally not in such a way as to clash with #5. This is a huge challenge, and involves convincing Simon Gathercole and Jonathan Linebaugh that I know what I’m talking about when it comes to 1 Corinthians. If all goes well, I’ll try and publish it, too, if I can find any takers.
5. Pull back from pretty much everything that involves travelling over the summer, in light of the new life we will (God willing) be welcoming into the world in May. (I’ll make an exception for overnight trips to THINK and Newday, because THINK and Newday, but otherwise I will remain firmly ensconced in my south-east England provincial bubble).
6. Release the US version of The Life We Never Expected in June. The personal feedback we’ve had from the UK has been incredibly encouraging, and since you appraise the impact of a book like this more by stories than by sales figures - it was always going to have a limited audience! - I’m hoping for more of the same in the US, however many it sells.
7. Run the THINK conference in July in a way that makes Genesis both fresh and exciting for all the delegates who come, without either ducking the controversial issues or letting them overwhelm the text. I’ve said in advance that I’m going to achieve this, but goodness knows how. (The traditional performance of the whole text in the final session may prove challenging, too!)
8. Continue with my column for Christianity Today, “Spirited Life,” which is helping me condense floaty ideas into written form with a bit more discipline than I have to use here, as well as enabling me to communicate with a wider audience. If my column doesn’t continue after the summer, you’ll know it’s because they discontinued it rather than because I did ...
9. Figure out how to approach my next major writing project. I have some ideas, and think it may end up being a more substantial piece of work than the books I’ve written so far, but at the moment it’s so nebulous that I feel like Qoholeth, shepherding the wind and blustering about how “everything is vapour.” I need to get a handle on how the whole thing might develop, and ideally make a start on it.
10. Read. Lined up currently are Michael Ward’s Planet Narnia, R. R. Reno’s Genesis (see #7), Jamie Smith’s You Are What You Love, Peter Leithart’s Delivered from the Elements of the World: Atonement, Justification, Mission, plus Pascal’s Pensees and Tim Keller’s Prayer, both of which I will go through incredibly slowly. Other stuff I will pick up as I go.
11. Gloat when it turns out that my prediction of a Hillary win in the presidential campaign, from three years ago, is vindicated in November.
12. Rejoice. “The first great and primary business to which I ought to attend every day,” said George Mueller, “is to have my soul happy in the Lord.” Whatever else on this list happens (or not), this is the one that matters.
Happy New Year!