Aug 202010

Five years of university approach their end today as I head to New College to hand in my Masters dissertation. Odd to think that five years of education might be condensed into 44 pages of text. Of course, that’s just a very small part of it, but I guess every word is influenced in some way by that learning process.

Not through any sense of vanity or high regard for my work, but simply because some gracious people have expressed an interest, I’ve uploaded my masters research work. There are three research essays and the small dissertation. All-in-all around 26000 words of my ramblings as I tried to get my head around Emerging Church and how the Church of Scotland was and is interacting with it.

I was commenting to a friend that the days of struggling to find 1500 words for an essay in first year seem a very long way removed from churning out 15000 words for a dissertation, but the time has disappeared in a flash and I’m sure it will not be slowing down any as I head into probation in just over a week’s time.

Maybe I should have entitled the post, “And so it continues.”

ps – my thanks to Alan, Fiona, Lindsay and Maggie for being kind enough to proof my dissertation. I can only apologise for putting you through that.

Oct 212009

I had a very fruitful meeting with my academic supervisor today. It wasn’t intended as anything other than a bit of a catch up, but it turned out to be a most useful boost. I know that I’m only 5 weeks into the Masters course, but I was already feeling that I was lacking focus and direction. I knew where one 5k-word essay was coming from but the others were still somewhat vague (nebulous even and at risk of ending up in a quagmire). I’m not saying that the revised track is better focused, but it does seem to fit well and is a bit more interesting than what I had planned originally. Continue reading »

Apr 012009

If you’re bored or struggling to get to sleep, then I’ve uploaded some light reading to keep you amused. I’ve just added my honours dissertation to the downloads section, under the ‘Study’ category. It’s an exploration of eschatology, and in particular resurrection. It’ll also form the basis for my Masters research project. I want to look at other areas of eschatology such as heaven and hell. I also want to explore the ethical implications of the resurrection theology I look at in my dissertation and also the ecclesiology of it. If none of that makes sense, feel free to ignore this post.

Apr 012009

I dropped off my dissertation today, all nicely bound, with its tidy acetate front and card backing.

Near the limit of the word count and that was only after I had to trim about 350 words out of it. Better that though than struggling to get enough words.

Only one exam to go in the middle of May and that’s it for my BD.

Sep 252008

OK, here it is, the proposal for my dissertation:

Genesis 1:31a And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good.
Despite the early scriptural affirmation of the goodness of creation, Greek philosophical dualism, where heaven=good and earth=bad, still pervades much Christian thought. Heaven is to be ‘sought after’ and all that matters in the Christian life is that, one day, we will be in heaven with God. Heaven becomes the ‘be all and end all’ of faith, turning attention away from the needs of this world and its inhabitants.

Yet this theological perspective, with its unfortunate implications for Christian ethics, does not enjoy incontestable scriptural backing. Rather than leaving this ‘bad’ earth behind, the apostle Paul speaks of the redemption of creation, freeing it from decay (Romans 8:20-21). NT Wright argues that Paul has ‘reimagined’ Jewish Messiahship and salvation in the context of an inaugurated eschatology, encompassing the entirety of creation. It is not, nor has it ever been, God’s ‘plan’ to wipe away this ‘bad’ earth and start afresh.

Driven by the scriptural emphasis of redeemed creation and an inaugurated eschatology, our theology and ethics must encompass a better sense of what the ‘new heavens and the new earth’ mean for the ‘here and now’ and not just for some indeterminate future.

Picking up on Wright’s insistence on a ‘reimagined salvation’ encompassing all creation, this dissertation will explore the theological ground of what eschatology means for creation itself.

My supervisor is looking likely to be Professor David Fergusson and he reckons it’s “a worthwhile dissertation topic”. I’m currently trying to put together a possible bibliography, but the names Wright, Moltmann and Polkinghorne seem to crop up with regularity when searching for suitable sources, so I guess they’ll feature somewhere.

Sep 182008

Well, that’s me registered for another year at New College. This is 4th year. I’ll not say final year as I’m expected to do a postrgrad year for the CofS placements to fit in. Anyway, met my new Director of Studies today and made some changes to my course selection. As well as my honours dissertation, I’ll be studying the following subjects:

  • Biblical Interpretation (mandatory course – couldn’t get out of it)
  • Church, Sacraments and Ministry (another mandatory course)
  • Hebrew Prophecy (a whistlestop tour of OT prophets)
  • Doctrine of Creation (because I enjoy theology and it fits with my dissertation)

My working title (so far) for my dissertation is ‘The Eschatological Affirmation of Creation’s Goodness’. If nothing else I think it sounds impressive. The main focus of it is to explore the implications for creation of an inaugurated eschatology (an idea which I have considerable sympathy with). The good thing is that the dissertation could be taken in a lot of different directions – theology, Biblical Interpretation, ecclesiology and ethics. So, depending on who ends up being my supervisor, I can tailor it to suit. All those avenues interest me so I’d be happy picking up on any of them.

I also spent time and money getting ahead with the reading material for my first class. So, homework for Monday to be done and no rush to find books for the following Monday. Silly amount of reading to do mind you.

So, bang goes real life for another 14 weeks or so.

Apr 222008

Sometime before the end of the exam term I need to have a good idea of what my honours dissertation is going to be and also identify a possible supervisor. My big problem is narrowing things down to a manageable research area. I like the ‘big picture’ stuff. The nitty-gritty can get frustrating sometimes.

Anyway, I think I may have identified a few possible areas of study and they cover my two main areas of interest which are Biblical studies and theology.

My main inspiration has come from NT Wright’s ‘Surprised by Hope’. My earlier post on it probably didn’t do justice to just how inspiring I found the book. So, I’ve come up with a few possibilities for further research.

  • The scriptural portrayal of heaven.
  • The scriptural understanding of resurrection and the ‘new heaven and the new earth’.
  • Does a focus on heaven devalue God’s ‘very good’ creation?

They can all be approached theologically or through Biblical interpretation, although the last one has a greater theological bias. Anyway, I’ve fired off my general ideas to a couple of potential supervisors and I’ll see what they have to say.

In the meantime, I need to focus on revision for my forthcoming exams.