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A Theologian is Born
by Richard Kirby, Oct 7, 2004
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Dr. Gordon Arthur
Good morning, Dr. Gordon Arthur, this is Dr. Richard Kirby and it's Wednesday the 29th of September (St. Michael and All Angels). The time is 9.19 a.m., Pacific Standard Time. This is a little ceremony I'm putting you through, Gordon, and it's a part of traditioning: I want to pass on to you what was given to me so that you in turn can pass it on. It's a little different because mutatis mutandis, as we say in Latin, nothing is quite the same, but I want to welcome you as a professional theologian and put you through a little ceremony here and then talk to you about post-doctoral work; and take this in the spirit of Christian love.

Well, first of all, Gordon, I want to tell you (I'm sure I told you this before, but it'll mean more to you now), after I did my final paper, a 40-page paper on the Resurrection for Systematic Theology under Rev. Professor James Carpenter at Seminary, he wrote a note, in addition to the A+ grade, for which I'm truly grateful, he said,

"Dear Richard, I now see that theology has first call not only on your mind, but on your life. In welcoming you to our profession, I can only hope that its joys, which are many, outweigh its sorrows, which are also many."

And this was my clue, and of course as you know, Gordon, on your watch and in your time, after that I went on and did my own Ph.D., and you've followed in my footsteps, for which I'm grateful, and you've taken your Ph.D. under some of the same teachers in the same college. This is a formal greeting of welcoming you to our profession, and in seeing that your calling is to be a professional Christian theologian, I'm praying that the joys of our profession will outweigh its sorrows. That's the first thing, and I hope that in your time you will have many theological sons to whom you can pass this on.

Also, Gordon, I want to ask you as a personal favour to me to go back to the poem "Rugby Chapel", and once again meditate on Arnold of Rugby and see what it means for you. Now, I want to close with an invitation. Please think carefully about this. If you read, I believe it's "Man Becoming" by Gregory Baum; I may be mistaken here, but I believe it was he who talks about how a group of theologians used to meet and discuss their craft, and so on. Now one of the things that's missing in the profession of theology is the opportunity for theologians to meet and talk independently of the academy, because to be an academic theologian is not the same as to be a Christian theologian in my view.

I want to ask you, as many times before, just the two of us, to covenant together to discover our highest values as Christian theologians - not professionals, not academics - but, yes, bearers of Christian doctrine for the Church, in the world, and to know what that means in terms of lifestyle, prayer, spirituality, and so on. And we will be supported in this by WNRF. So, for each step that we take to each other let's take one back and consider what does it mean to be a theologian for Jesus Christ today?

I feel very deeply a gut feeling that this is something that I need, and I think you need too, and I think I would like to, as it were, make myself accountable to you in part to describe what I'm doing for my own post-doctoral work in terms of studies, prayer and ministry, and I invite you to do the same.

So, welcome to our world, and I believe you're needed, and I want to ask you to consider, not to do what I did, which is to take ten years working partly in a business world, but to work earnestly with me and WNRF to see if we can find you full-time employment as a theologian, because I think this is why God has brought you to this point. So please, write to me about all these things, and enjoy my blessing, and my Christian love and appreciation, my admiration for your achievement. OK Gordon, you're a great guy. God Bless

URL: http://www.wnrf.org/cms/gordon_arthur.shtml

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