Conference Program

*To attend a session on the day of the conference simply click on the hyper-linked paper title below. This will take you to directly to the presentation, or to the archived video of the paper if you miss the presentation. Register in advance for the latest updates at

Thursday August 1st

(Wednesday July 31st in the United States. The US is a day behind Australia)

7:00pm–9:00pm [2:00am PDT, 4:00am CDT, 5:00am EDT] 

Ben Witherington III (Amos Professor of New Testament for Doctoral Studies, Asbury Theological Seminary)

“Biblical Theology: What is It and How Should It Be Done?”


*Ben will be presenting the keynote for the conference on Thursday August 1st 7–9pm at Trinity College Queensland. You can register here for that event, and/or for the entire conference here.

Bible scholar Ben Witherington is Amos Professor of New Testament for Doctoral Studies at Asbury Theological Seminary and on the doctoral faculty at St. Andrews University in Scotland. A graduate of UNC, Chapel Hill, he went on to receive the M.Div. degree from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and a Ph.D. from the University of Durham in England. He is now considered one of the top evangelical scholars in the world, and is an elected member of the prestigious SNTS, a society dedicated to New Testament studies.

Witherington has also taught at Ashland Theological Seminary, Vanderbilt University, Duke Divinity School and Gordon-Conwell. A popular lecturer, Witherington has presented seminars for churches, colleges and biblical meetings not only in the United States but also in England, Estonia, Russia, Europe, South Africa, Zimbabwe and Australia. He has also led tours to Italy, Greece, Turkey, Israel, Jordan, and Egypt.

Witherington has written over fifty books, including The Jesus Quest and The Paul Quest, both of which were selected as top biblical studies works by Christianity Today. He also writes for many church and scholarly publications, and is a frequent contributor to the Patheos website.

Along with many interviews on radio networks across the country, Witherington has been seen on the History Channel, NBC, ABC, CBS, CNN, The Discovery Channel, A&E, and the PAX Network.

Friday August 2nd

(Thursday August 1st in the United States. The US is a day behind Australia)

9am–9:45am [4pm PDT, 5pm MDT, 6pm CDT, 7pm EDT]

Arthur Sutherland (Associate Professor of Theology, Loyola University)

“The Significance of Victorian Virtues in shaping African American Moral Formation and the Consequences of its Decline.”


Originally from Washington, D.C., Arthur Sutherland, Ph.D., once won a BBQ contest in Maryland, which led to him being featured in a Finnish food magazine. At Loyola Dr. Sutherland teaches theology in addition to classes in the Honors Program and Messina, and serves as class dean for the Class of 2020. He served as the director of national fellowships at Loyola for more than 10 years, during which he helped students win nearly 40 prestigious academic awards and scholarships, including Fulbright, Goldwater, Gilman, Critical Languages, Lilly, and the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD). Dr. Sutherland, who holds advanced degrees from Yale University Divinity School and Princeton Theological Seminary, has conducted research in Germany and Switzerland and received fellowships from the Fund for Theological Education, the Association for Religion and Intellectual Life, the Christian Scholars Fund, and the Wabash Center for the Teaching of Theology and Religion. His research interests are in the history of Christian doctrine, African-American theology, and the spirituality of generosity.

Christopher Holmes (Scholar in Residence and Director of Biblical and Theological Education at First Presbyterian Church in Atlanta, GA)

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“A Sour Stomach: Theological Interpretation as a Destabilizing, but Energizing Practice”

The Rev. Dr. Christopher T. Holmes is the John H. Stembler Jr. Scholar in Residence and Director of Biblical and Theological Education at First Presbyterian Church in Atlanta, GA. He is also a visiting assistant professor of New Testament and instructional design consultant for the Course of Study program at Emory University. Previously, he served as visiting assistant professor of New Testament at McAfee School of Theology and adjunct professor of New Testament at Candler School of Theology and Payne Theological Seminary. His first book, The Function of Sublime Rhetoric in Hebrews: A Study in Hebrews 12:18–29, was published by Mohr Siebeck in 2018. His research interests include the Epistle to the Hebrews, religious rhetoric in antiquity, the history of interpretation of the New Testament, New Testament Theology, and the theological interpretation of Scripture.


This paper begins with a close reading of Rev 10:9–10 that explores the seer’s act of eating a scroll within the context of Revelation as a whole. The paper then considers possible intertextual connections between this image and other passages in Scripture. Next, the paper explores the passage theologically with a focus on how the idea of a “sour stomach” may inform the theological interpretation of Scripture. To do so, it reviews the history of biblical interpretation, particularly the ancient practice of lectio divina, to better understand consumption as a metaphor for the use and interpretation of Scripture. Finally, this paper critically evaluates how a “sour stomach” may be a goal and function of theological interpretation. It is more natural to liken the theological interpretation of scripture to the taste of honey in this passage. Theological interpretation is meant to be appealing, enriching, and satisfying. But the image of a sour stomach suggests that theological interpretation may have a more uncomfortable outcome as well. In light of this, the paper argues that theological interpretation should be a destabilizing, but energizing practice that is motivated by the world’s brokenness and God’s redemptive activity on behalf of the world. In this view, theological interpretation is not only a matter of personal satiation. Rather, it is about discomfort and dissatisfaction that that leads one to partner with God in the transformation of the world.

10:00am–10:45am [5pm PDT, 6pm MDT, 7pm CDT, 8pm EDT]

Rachel Davies (Australian Catholic University)

“Thirst and Desire from Augustine to Mother Teresa: Interpreting Key Johannine Texts”


Rachel will be presenting from our Brisbane hub at Trinity College Queensland. She holds a PhD from the Centre for Catholic Studies at Durham University.

“The central inspiration for Mother Teresa’s work among the poor was her reading of Jesus’ thirst on the cross, recorded in John 19:28. In her view, when Jesus said “I thirst,” he was not just expressing a need for water, but for human love in the midst of his abandonment. Mother Teresa’s contemplation of this Scripture passage compelled her serve others with increasing urgency and generosity: wherever she encountered human need, she experienced the sacramental presence of the thirsting Jesus and sought to quench his thirst with love. This paper will trace allegorical interpretations of John 19:28 and its companion verses in John 4 (the story of the woman at the well) from the Patristic period to Mother Teresa, to show the historical roots of her sacramental intuition and its relationship to moral formation.”

Alexander P. Thompson (Tennessee Wesleyan University)

“How Do You Read?”: The Relationship of Hospitality and Theological Interpretation in Luke-Acts as a Guide for Contemporary Christian Life”

Rev. Dr. Alex Thompson is a graduate of the University of Evansville (B.A.), Candler School of Theology (M.Div.), and the University of St. Andrews (M.Litt.). He recently graduated from Emory University with a Ph.D. in New Testament. He currently serves as an ordained pastor in Tennessee as an elder in the United Methodist Church and a part-time professor in the Religion and Philosophy Department at Tennessee Wesleyan University. His dissertation examined the role of recognition in the resurrection appearances of Luke 24. His on-going research concentrates on Luke-Acts, resurrection and eschatology, the Greco-Roman literary milieu around the New Testament, and the Bible in popular culture.


In Luke’s Gospel, hospitality is an important element of Jesus’ ministry of table fellowship (Luke 5:29-39; 7:36-50) and in the call to receive “God’s visitation” (Luke 19:44-45). In Acts, hospitality is characteristic of the Christian community (Acts 2:43-46) and supported the Church’s ministry in the world. Several recent scholars have highlighted the importance of hospitality in the theological vision of Luke-Acts in dialogue with both Jewish and Greco-Roman practices of hospitality. But what has often been overlooked is how Luke-Acts connects hospitality to the interpretation of Scripture. This overlap is demonstrated in Luke 10:25-37 when the question about how one reads is answered by Jesus’ parable about the Samaritan’s hospitality. Luke-Acts presents the theological interpretation of the Scriptures as presupposing and resulting in hospitality, while inadequate interpretation is often attributed to a failure to offer hospitality. The paper will concentrate on two passages in the Gospel of Luke that explore the dynamic relationship of hospitality and theological interpretation: the appearance on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-35) and the parable of the rich man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31). The overlap of hospitality and interpretation in these stories will then serve as a basis for exploring how churches might cultivate Christian readers into practices of hospitality prior to, through, and as a result of their theological interpretation.

10:45–11:00am [5:45pm PDT, 6:45 MDT, 7:45pm CDT, 8:45pm EDT]

Morning Tea

11:00am–11:45am [6:00pm PDT, 7:00pm MDT, 8:00pm CDT, 9:00pm EDT]

Carlos Sosa Siliezar (Assistant Professor of New Testament at Wheaton College)

“Moral Formation in Multicultural Settings: A Theological Reading of Acts.”


Carlos Sosa Siliezar hold a Ph.D in New Testament from the University of Edinburgh and is Assistant Professor of New Testament at Wheaton College. His interests focus on the study of the New Testament in its ancient Jewish context with sensitivity for the literary and theological dimensions of the Greek text. Dr. Sosa Siliezar’s overall concern is to allow the biblical texts to shape his teaching, thinking, service, and ethics. He specializes in Johannine literature and the appropriation of Old Testament and Jewish traditions in the New Testament. Having taught for almost a decade in Guatemala, he is currently developing an interest in reception history and theory as he seeks to explore the use of the New Testament in Latin American theology. He is the author of several books including Savior of the World: A Theology of the Universal Gospel (Baylor University Press, forthcoming 2019) and (forthcoming) and Creation Imagery in the Gospel of John (Bloomsbury T&T Clark, 2018). He loves to spend time with his wife, Gabby (a musician), and his two active children.


Collin Cornell (Visiting Assistant Professor, School of Theology at Sewanee)

“Name and Nihilism: Miskotte as Theological Interpreter for a World Come of Age”

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Collin Cornell (Ph.D., Emory University) is a visiting assistant professor for the School of Theology at Sewanee: The University of the South (USA), where he teaches introductory and elective courses in both testaments of the Christian Bible as well as Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek. His interests include theological interpretation of scripture, history of religions, and the doctrine of God. He has published articles in Harvard Theological Review, Scottish Journal of Theology, and Zeitschrift für die alttestamentliche Wissenschaft, and his monograph, Lest He Be Angry: Divine Aggression in Royal Psalms and Inscriptions is forthcoming from Cambridge University Press. He also edited the book God among the Gods: The Problem of YHWH’s Ancient Look-alikes, forthcoming from Eisenbrauns/Penn State University Press.


Kornelis Heiko (K.H.) Miskotte was a Dutch pastor, theologian, and anti-Nazi activist (1894–1976). As a dedicated disciple and personal friend of Karl Barth, Miskotte’s theology shares many of Barth’s emphases, especially in its prevailing theme of divine freedom and transcendence, its christological concentration, and its exegetical care. Miskotte’s theology also shows similarities with that of his younger contemporary, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and in particular, Bonhoeffer’s prison writings. Like these Letters and Papers, Miskotte addresses what he calls “the eclipse of God”—the recession of a formerly default Western belief in God—and he sketches a new vision of Christian life and formation under these conditions. Also like Letters and Papers, Miskotte draws special nourishment for his program from the Old Testament in its all suffering, pathos, and this-worldliness. However, where Bonhoeffer’s thinking on these subjects was interrupted by his execution at the Nazis’ hands, Miskotte survived and published his masterwork in 1956 (English translation in 1967), titled When the Gods are Silent. This book concludes with fifteen brief exegetical probes on Old Testament texts; not quite sermons and not quite studies, Miskotte hopes these chapters will equip the reader as “an interpreter and witness in the present situation” (xviii). The present paper engages these probes as examples of theological interpretation intended to contribute to the spiritual and moral formation of Christians living within secularizing and post-Christian societies. With an eye trained on this purpose, and with a running comparison to Bonhoeffer, this paper devotes attention to several of Miskotte’s characteristic theological foci: the Name of God (YHWH), the realism of God’s presence among humankind, and the allure and bankruptcy of “paganism,” considered as the sum total of natural human religiosity.

12:00pm–12:55pm [7:00pm PDT, 8:00am MDT, 9:00pm CDT, 10:00pm EDT]


1:00pm–1:55pm [8:00pm PDT, 9:00pm MDT, 10:00pm CDT, 11:00pm EDT]

Glenn Packiam (Lead Pastor, New Life Downtown, Colorado )

“Singing Toward Virtue: The Christ Hymn and Moral Formation in Colossians”


Glenn will be skyping into Ecclesia and Ethics IV from Colorado to deliver a featured paper dealing with the Christ-hymn and ethics in Colossians.

In addition to being a pastor, Glenn is also a scholar and an author. His recent publications include: Discover the Mystery of Faith (David C. Cook, 2013), LUCKY: How the Kingdom Comes to Unlikely People (Cook, 2011), Secondhand Jesus: Trading Rumors of God for a Firsthand Faith (Cook, 2009), and Butterfly in Brazil: How Your Life Can Make a World of Difference (Tyndale, 2007).

Glenn earned a Doctorate in Theology and Ministry from Durham University in the UK, and he was also one of the founding leaders and songwriters for the Desperation Band and has been featured on several Desperation Band and NewLifeWorship recordings. He has also released three solo projects with Integrity Music, “The Mystery of Faith”, “The Kingdom Comes”, and “Rumors and Revelations”. As a signed songwriter with Integrity Music, he has had the honor of writing and co-writing over 65 worship songs, including several well-loved songs, like “Your Name” and “My Savior Lives.”

Glenn has spoken at many conferences for pastors and worship leaders, and has taught sessions and chapel services at Biola University, Asbury Seminary, Calvin College, and Trinity School for Ministry.

Coleman M. Ford (Adjunct Instructor, Boyce College)

“By the Spirit Healing Him by Grace”: Romans 5:5 and Moral Transformation in Augustine of Hippo’s Letters

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Coleman M. Ford is co-founder of the Center of Ancient Christian Studies and Fides et Humilitas: The Journal of the Center for Ancient Christian Studies. He holds a Ph.D. in Church History and a Th.M. in Biblical Spirituality from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is currently a minister at The Village Church in Dallas, TX. He also serves as an Adjunct Instructor for Boyce College and California Baptist University and teaching assistant at Southern Seminary. His research interests include the spirituality and pastoral theology of Augustine of Hippo, the transcendentals (truth, goodness, beauty) in patristic tradition, virtue and ethics in the patristic tradition, Christianity in late antiquity, reception history of the church fathers, and the history of Christian spirituality.


Romans 5:5 was an oft-cited text for Augustine throughout his lifetime. It was a vital text for understanding his pneumatology. Additionally, it was a text he employed in both the Donatist and Pelagian controversies to argue for both the necessity of unity with the Church (where’ the Spirit of love resides), and the vital nature of God’s grace (proven in the Spirit’s work of granting us God’s love). It was also a pivotal text in understanding the transformative action of the Spirit of God in regards to the moral life in general. This later assertion is relatively unexplored in Augustinian studies. As such, the use of Rom 5:5 to express moral transformation is best seen in his letters written to individuals on various occasions. Augustine’s letters are the best source to understand his use of Rom 5:5 in this way as they demonstrate on-the-ground examples of Augustine’s thinking and application. In this essay, I will argue that Augustine uses Rom 5:5 as a foundational text throughout his letters to demonstrate how the Spirit empowers moral transformation based on grace which leads to more faithful moral action. In this way, he encourages a comprehensive scheme of moral transformation that affects every facet of the Christian’s life. First, I will place Augustine’s use of Rom 5:5 in the context of his broader theological concerns. Next, I will catalog the specific instances in which Augustine employs Rom 5:5 in his epistolary literature. Last, I will synthesize these instances to demonstrate Augustine’s multi-faceted view of moral transformation based on his understanding of Rom 5:5.

Afternoon Session #1 —2:00pm–3:15pm [9:00pm PDT, 11:00pm CDT,
12:00am EDT]

2:00pm–2:30pm [9:00pm PDT, 10:00pm MDT, 11:00pm CDT, 12:00am EDT]

Neil Pembroke (Associate Professor of Christian Studies, University of Queensland)

“The Holy Spirit and Moral Habitude: Aquinas’s Pneumatology of the Virtuous Life”


Neil Pembroke is Associate Professor of Christian Studies at the University of Queensland. Neil is a member of the International Academy of Practical Theology. He received his PhD from the University of Edinburgh. Neil’s publications include Working Relationships: Spirituality in Human Service and in Organisational Life ( Jessica Kingsley 2004); Moving Toward Spiritual Maturity: Psychological, Contemplative, and Moral Challenges in Christian Living (Routledge, 2007); Pastoral Care in Worship (T&T Clark, 2010); and Foundations of Pastoral Counselling: Integrating Philosophy, Theology, and Psychotherapy (SCM Press, 2017).


The primary aim is to expand the existing work on pneumatologically oriented ethics through engaging Aquinas’s theology of moral habituation. The contribution to this scholarly work has two aspects. First, it is shown that the fundamental theological principle undergirding Aquinas’s moral theory is the grace of the Spirit moving a believer to act for the good. Thomas understands the grace of the Holy Spirit primarily as a motive force. Here he employs Aristotle’s view of motion as broadly any kind of change. The change from a readiness to do evil to a readiness to do the good is only possible because the Spirit energizes such a movement through sanctifying grace and auxilliary grace.  The second aspect consists of highlighting the crucial role that the gifts of the Spirit play in relation to both grace and virtue in the theory.

Danny McDonald (Adjunct Professor of Christian Worldview and Apologetics, Boyce College)

“’Draw Near to Listen’: Reading Scripture, Listening, and Moral Formation”

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Danny McDonald (Ph.D., M.Div.) is Faculty Development Specialist for an online education company, Adjunct Professor of Christian Worldview and Apologetics at Boyce College, and Adjunct Instructor at Liberty University Online. He is currently a member of the Evangelical Philosophical Society and the Evangelical Theological Society. His research interests include the relationship between faith and reason, metaphilosophy, and the history of western philosophy, particularly its role in and use by the ancient church.

Danny is married to Angie (18 years), whom he met on the first day of orientation at Southern, and has three daughters: Maddi, Libby, and Emma. He is a member at Ninth and O Baptist Church, where he plays drums for the worship team and serves in other capacities.


One of the primary means by which today’s believer hears God speak is through the reading of God’s word. “Living and active” (Heb 4:12, ESV), God’s word pierces and shapes the heart of the believer. But, what is it about reading Scripture that leads one to either obey or reject what God commands and teaches? Most of us know instinctively (at the least) that we learn something when we read. Yet, it seems that we generally limit this kind of knowing to merely knowing about. In this paper, I seek to expound upon this thesis by arguing that the believer’s reading of the Bible is a form of listening, and thus an act of knowing that necessitates moral formation.

To accomplish my thesis, I first expand upon what I mean by “know.” I do this by building upon the work of Michael Polanyi (Personal Knowledge), Esther Meek (her covenant epistemology), and Dru Johnson (Epistemology and Biblical Theology and Scriptural Knowing). For these thinkers, the act knowing entails more than just knowing about—it necessarily involves listening to an authority, assenting to that authority, and embodying the authority’s teachings. Knowing, then, involves listening to and assenting to the authority of another. I seek to show that reading is another form of listening, such that when one reads Scripture, they are listening to God. If one assents to God as authoritative, then the proper response is to live out (or embody) his teachings. This embodiment of God’s teachings leads to true knowledge of God (as opposed to mere knowledge about) and his ways, necessitating the moral formation of the believer.

2:35pm—3:05pm [9:35pm PDT, 10:35pm MDT, 11:35pm CDT, 12:35am EDT]

Paul Hedley Jones (Lecturer in Old Testament and Principal of Trinity College Queensland)

“Afflicted with Evil: Divine Culpability and Human Response-Ability in Job”


Paul holds a Ph.D in Old Testament from Durham University and is the author of several books, chapters, and articles including Sharing God’s Passion: Prophetic Spirituality (Paternoster, 2012) and Job’s Way Through Pain: Karma, Clichés and Questions (Paternoster, 2014).


Job is introduced as a man of integrity who always turns away from badness [raʿ] (Job 1.1), and yet in only the second chapter of the book bearing his name, the narrator describes him as one who is literally covered in badness, ‘from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head’ (Job 2.7). The prologue to the book thus raises profound questions concerning an appropriate ethical response to suffering and injustice​. This paper explores this important issue through an exploration of narrative dynamics in Job’s prologue and epilogue, without disregarding the cycles of poetic discourse in between. Vital questions raised within the world of the text are seen to have considerable significance for the world in front of the text as well. Moreover, various intertextual links are considered in light of Job’s moral response to evil, which avoids lingering on questions of divine culpability and moves instead to the more transformative issue of human response-ability.

3:05pm-3:15 pm [10:05pm PDT, 12:05am CDT, 1:05am EDT]

Afternoon Session #1 Q+A

3:20pm–3:35pm [10:20pm PDT, 11:20pm MDT, 12:20am CDT,  1:20am EDT]

Afternoon Tea

Afternoon Session #2
3:40pm–4:45pm[10:40pm PDT, 11:40pm MDT, 12:40am CDT, 1:40am EDT]

3:40pm–4:10pm [10:40pm PDT, 11:40pm MDT, 12:40am CDT, 1:40am EDT]

John Frederick (Lecturer in New Testament and Greek, Trinity College Queensland)

“The New Perspective on Barth: Election, Ethics and the New Perspective on Paul”


John Frederick (Ph.D, University of St. Andrews) is Lecturer in New Testament at Trinity College Queensland in Brisbane, Australia. He previously taught as Assistant Professor of New Testament, Theology and Worship Arts at Grand Canyon University, Phoenix, Arizona. Before that John taught as Adjunct Professor of New Testament at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. From 2011-2013 he lectured in New Testament Greek at the University of St. Andrews.

John is the co-editor of Galatians and Christian Theology (Baker Academic, 2014) and a co-editor and co-contributor to Ecclesia and Ethics: Moral Formation and the Church (Bloomsbury/T&T Clark, 2016). His other works include a cruciform theology of worship entitled Worship in the Way of the Cross (InterVarsity, 2017), The Enactment and Reception of Cruciform Love (WUNT II Mohr Siebeck, 2019), and a forthcoming multi-author volume which is is co-editing entitled Spiritual Formation in the Global Context.  John is a musician and songwriter who served as worship leader at such churches as Park Street Church in Boston, and an Anglican priest who has planted churches in Boston and Phoenix.


Since the release of Ed Sanders’ Paul and Palestinian Judaism in 1977 a revolution has occurred in Pauline studies regarding the nature of the Law in Second Temple Judaism. In the work of subsequent scholars such as N.T. Wright, James D.G. Dunn, and Richard B. Hays, Sanders’ initial contribution to Second Temple Jewish studies was fully expanded to address the doctrine of justification in Paul’s epistles. This variegated movement in biblical studies, known collectively as the New Perspective on Paul, has argued (among other things) that Paul’s doctrine of justification is not primarily a doctrine developed in response to ‘works-righteousness’ in Judaism. Rather, Paul’s language of justification refers to a right covenant status that is held by the believer as a result of the believer’s election by grace. Faith, in this assessment, is therefore not an instrument but rather an evidence of the fact that one is in the covenant. Justification by faith is not how one gets saved; it is a badge of belonging to show that one has already been and will be saved, and that they now belong to the covenant people in a right relationship with God.

While the New Perspective has now been incorporated as a mainstream view in the realm of Pauline theology, the fruits of the New Perspective have not yet made a significant impact in the area of systematic theology or theological ethics. In recent years, there has been a tendency (especially by Barthians) to ignore or reject the New Perspective in favour of the more Barthian influenced ‘apocalyptic‘ readings of J. Louis Martyn. This paper will draw out ways in which Barth’s doctrine of election can be strengthened and validated when combined with New Perspective approaches to the doctrine of justification. In particular, the paper will explore the New Perspective’s tendency to situate the doctrine of justification within the realm of ecclesiology rather than soteriology. It will propose a constructive theology in which an ecclesiological view of justification is proposed that coheres with a Barthian reading of election. It will be argued that such a view strengthens inclusivist readings of the atonement by removing the common tendency to collapse the terms salvation and justification into one generic category. Instead, by distinguishing between the two terms, it will be argued that salvation could be potentially conceived of apart from the right, ecclesial covenant status that comes from justification. The paper will conclude by assessing how this approach to election and justification might impact theological considerations for moral formation.

4:15pm–4:45pm [11:15pm PDT, 12:15am MDT, 1:15am CDT, 2:15am EDT]

David Rankin

“Clement of Alexandria and the True Gnostic formed by the Lord’s teaching”

David Mackay-Rankin

Ordained as a Minister of the Word in the Uniting Church in Australia in 1980, David has served in several parishes in Australia (in both Victoria and Queensland) and for three years in the United Kingdom (within the Methodist Church from 2010 to 2013). From 1992 to 2010 he served on the faculty of Trinity Theological College (which became, after his time there, Trinity College Queensland), the training college of the Queensland Uniting Church Synod, as Director or Studies: Church History (1992-2010), teaching mainly early church history and patristics, Academic Dean (1993-2003), and Principal (2004-2010). He has authored five books: Tertullian and the Church (1995), From Clement to Origen (2006), Athenagoras: Philosopher and Theologian (2009), The Early Church and the Afterlife (2017), and Film and the Afterlife (forthcoming in 2019), and numerous book chapters and journal articles. He is married to Julie and between them they have six children, seven grandchildren and Geordie the terrier.


Towards the end of the 2nd century Clement of Alexandria developed a notion of the true Gnostic (not to be confused with the heretical variety) as the matured, fully developed Christian and wrote about this primarily in his treatise the Stromateis (or Miscellanies). In the sixth and seventh books of that work he provides a description of this true Gnostic and did so in chapter 7, in part, with an exposition of 1 Corinthians 6 and other biblical texts, with the idea that in forgiving without condition or compromise those who had injured him such a Gnostic becomes most like God. Judith Kovacs, a leading Clement scholar, also addressed this theme rather thoughtfully in a paper given in 2010 and I propose also to consider her particular treatment of the topic there in the present paper.

4:45pm-4:55pm  [11:45am PDT, 12:45am MDT, 1:45am CDT, 2:45am EDT]

Afternoon Session #2 Q+A

5:00pm–5:55pm [12:00am PDT, 1:00am MDT, 2:00am CDT, 3:00am EDT]

Mark W. Elliott (Professor of Divinity and Biblical Criticism, Glasgow University, Wycliffe College, Toronto)

“What it has meant and might mean to be ‘The Church of the Poor’ after the early chapters of Acts'”



Mark will be presenting via webinar from Scotland. Glaswegian by birth, Mark was further educated at Oxford, Aberdeen and Cambridge, where he wrote a PhD on The Song of Songs and Christology in the Early Church. Before St Andrews he taught at Nottingham University and Liverpool Hope. His main focus is the relationship between biblical exegesis and Christian doctrine and ethics, both ancient and modern, but has a particular interest in Scottish theology in its international context.


The command of Jesus to live simply has implications for the person’s relationship to God the Father, for the experience of community and for the alleviation of the misery of the poor. Now it is the last of these which is more disputable. Who can be sure that wealth dispossession is a way of wealth creation. When believers came and lay their wealth at the feet of the apostles, it did not necessarily mean the end of their trading lives for good.

Two movie moments stand out; The Name of the Rose [1986] where the fourteenth-century Papal legate Umberto exclaims: The question’s not whether Christ was poor…but whether the Church should be poor! (and without worldly influence)

Another legate visiting the Jesuit missions in the Amazon in the eighteenth century according to The Mission [also 1986] asks the indigenous church elder: What was your income last year? Last year, 120,000 escudos. And how was it distributed? It is shared among them equally. This is a community. Yes, there is a French radical group that teaches that doctrine. Your Eminence, it was the doctrine of the early Christians.

The bulk of this paper will be concerned with an exploration of the tradition of exegesis, especially in the sermons of Chrysostom and Bede, and commentaries of Peter of John Olivi, and Nicholas of Lyra, continuing to Calvin and Catholic Reformers, so as to help us with some clarity and even strategy on this question.

Jeremy Rios (Ph.D candidate, University of St. Andrews)

“Purchasing Gemeinschaft with Gesellschaft: Bonhoeffer’s Ecclesiology and a Problem in Contemporary Church Communities”

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Jeremy Rios was born in the American Midwest. He earned a BA in Ancient Languages from Wheaton College, an MDiv from Regent College in Vancouver, and is currently working toward his PhD at the University of St Andrews in Scotland. His thesis title is, “Sunflower, Stellvertreter, and Symbol: Vicarious Action and Shared Identity in the Theologies of Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Charles Williams.” He is an ordained minister with the Christian and Missionary Alliance in Canada, and for almost nine years he was a full-time pastor of two churches in British Columbia. Jeremy is married, has four children, and has written or co-authored five books.


Seminars, books, consultants, and conferences point to a pervasive problem in contemporary theology—the problem of community. It is a thing that Churches globally desire, and yet the capacity to create and sustain it seems to elude them. In this, a toxic combination of latent individualism, chronically weak Protestant ecclesiology, and a market economy facilitate these difficulties. In many ways, the Church is perceived as a possible solution to the crisis of Western identity, and yet the tools to which the Western Church appeals themselves further the problem of alienation. Of interest, Ferdinand Tönnies’s concepts of Gemeinschaft and Gesellschaft accurately describe this situation. Gemeinschaft, as the familial, close, warm, and traditional sense of community, is that for which the Church strives. Gesellschaft, as the contractual, efficient, modern, temporary, and ends-based model of association, is what we live with and are saturated by. Effectively, this suggests that the Church expresses a desire for Gemeinschaft while consistently appealing to Gesellschaft-type tools to achieve this end. This is an impossibility. It is here that Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s early ecclesiology may be of special use to help us begin to resolve the problem of toxic individualism in the Church today. First, by arguing for the Church to inhabit its own sociological type, Bonhoeffer presses us to seek notions of the Church which transcend our current categories and constraining needs. Second, by articulating a concept of the “collective person” Bonhoeffer raises awareness of the importance of collective accounts of the person, not only as a corrective to individualism but also as a first-step toward teleological personhood. From Bonhoeffer’s foundation, then, we can begin to perceive how a Gemeinschaft-type Church might be achievable—not by technique, but by faithful theology—providing a crucial starting-point for any articulation of moral formation.