Tuesday, July 16, 2013


Theology House has a major conference coming up and I am shamelessly promoting it ...

Tough Questions Today: Exploring Theology of Marriage
Theology House Conference, 2013

DatesFriday evening 16th and Saturday 17th August 2013.

Venue: St Christopher’s Church, Avonhead has been booked, with capacity for breakout rooms.

Speakers: Bishop Tim Harris, Adelaide; Rev Dr Sue Patterson, Nelson; Bishop Victoria Matthews, Acting Dean Lynda Patterson, Rev Dr Peter Carrell, Christchurch.

Background to the Conference:

Theology of marriage is a hot topic for churches today. In a changing world, gay marriage is being legislated for, leading Christians to divide into those who support such change and those who oppose it. 
At the very least intense thinking about marriage is taking place in churches and in society. Does marriage require a man and a woman? Should churches be servants of the state in registering marriages? Perhaps the simplest and most basic question today is, ‘What is marriage?’ Tough questions are being asked. Traditional answers are under scrutiny. So are modern answers. 

This conference offers an opportunity for Christians to set time aside to engage with the questions.
A specific background to this conference is the call of the General Synod 2012 of the Anglican Church in Aotearoa New Zealand and Polynesia (ACANZP) for exploration of theology of marriage in the run up to General Synod 2014.

Details re registration (by 12 August, please) and so forth are here.


Bryden Black said...

Thanks Peter for parading this gathering.

You say however: “Perhaps the simplest and most basic question today is, ‘What is marriage?’” Actually, I beg to differ. For behind this apparently simple question there’s a prior question that in fact governs any answer to your question. This prior question is: What is human identity, and how is such identity a function of human nature?

At root, our culture in particular, and even the entire world, such has been the history of western expansion, are deeply indebted to that essential shift in human thinking galvanized by the Judeo-Christian revolution of the notion of Trinity. For the triune God stamps his very nature into creation generally but notably into the human creature. Lose this and we lose everything - literally. And while naturally the very powers of this human being are such that we are not constructing identities that are utterly ridiculous - they resemble verisimilitude - all the same, the history especially of the last 300 years is also such that we have strayed away from the once given foundations of human personhood offered via the triune God.

So Peter; I shall be alert as to whether you and other speakers dare to address this root issue; and thereafter also alert to whether you (plur) directly link the human institution of marriage to such an acknowledgment of the God and Father of the Lord Jesus Christ. Failure here will simply mean ... sheer failure.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Bryden
Engagement precedes marriage and you have ... engaged me!

I shall try to meet the challenge you set out!

Tim Chesterton said...

Wish I could fly over to NZ for this, Peter!

Father Ron Smith said...

HOT OF THE press in thr UK! Is the news that the peers in the House of L ords have approved of the bill to enable Same-Sex Marriage in England and Wales. The House of Commons is expected to give its final approval befoe the House is in recess, and H.M. Is expected to give the Royal Aseent by this weekend.

Sad news, indeed, for the op2ponents. And one cannot help but wonder how this will affect the Church of E ngland and her GAFCON adveraries?

Kurt said...

I agree with Tim; it sounds quite interesting! Perhaps someone will be video filming the sessions for those of us who cannot attend...?

Kurt Hill
In sweltering (95F)Brooklyn, NY

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Kurt
We are looking into such things ...

Bryden Black said...

The Canadians have already had a go at this of course back in 2008, at St Margaret’s in Winnipeg. See Roy R Jeal, ed., Human Sexuality and the Nuptial Mystery (Cascade Books, 2010). Note +VM was there also, as was Chris Holmes, now at the Uni of Otago. So let’s not reinvent the wheel folks!

Nor should we be unmindful of the St Michael’s Report from Canada (2005), which tried to steer a middle path between matters adiaphora and matters credal regarding marriage. My own take on that attempt is that it is bound to fail, since a due Christian anthropology is directly derived from matters Trinitarian - which is to say, credal!

Scott Mayer said...

Hi Peter,

Is this open to anybody (i.e. people from outside the Dio of Chch)?

Peter Carrell said...

Yes, it is open to anybody! Come on down ...

Father Ron Smith said...

Peter, have you considered invitiing an equal number of possible advocates of S/S Marriage to address the conference? This might help balance the obviously 'anti' brigade you have already assembled. I, myself, might find it interesting enough to attend.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Ron
The conference is not about "advocacy" and certainly not about advocacy for or against same sex marriage. It is a conference about exploring theology of marriage. In a few sessions together the conference makes no claim that a comprehensive exploration of every aspect of theology of marriage will be explored. My hope for the conference is that it will inform people who come, and beyond, in a way which assists advocacy (if people choose to do that)' deepens reflection on the nature of marriage and generally assist our diocese and church in the journey it is on.

I would be delighted to see you there. I think you would enjoy it.

Bryden Black said...

If I may be permitted a robust ad hominem. The very approach in Ron's question is the yeast in today's Church with its 'theological' agendas: we have capitulated to identity politics pure and simple.

Whereas, your own reply Peter seeks to address "theology" for its own sake: a sheer rarity nowadays. May it prevail ...!

Janice said...

I see that someone will be speaking on the theology of creation. I wonder, particularly in the light of some people's views about the naturalness, and even God-givenness, of same sex desire, can one build a theology of creation without reference to science, the philosophy of science and epistemology? If not, are these issues that will be considered at the conference?

I certainly hope so since so many people, including many who should know better, have altogether too much faith in the probative value of a lot of what passes for scientific research these days.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Janice
I must allow each speaker some freedom to determine where they head with what they prepare to say. But hopefully ...