The Stimulus journal has over twenty years in its various forms, engaged with a wide area of theological research. We are often amazed at the variety of articles that are submitted, and this issue is no exception. It has four articles, along with our regular columns that are diverse regarding the worldviews that they engage with.
Graham O’Brien’s article “Being God’s Image: Biblical Ethics and the Care of Creation” begins this issue where he considers a biblical and theological response to the world in which we now find ourselves living in; a world that has been “dramatically enhanced through technology, economics, and political processes.” O’Brien rightfully notes that the world has changed “in the service of human wants.” There is a biblical imperative to protect and care for creation, and as God’s image-bearers, we are to participate in serving in the care of creation. So, O’Brien asks this question: “what are the ethical criteria on which we can base our human activity for the care of creation?” He proposes three major themes of “Creation, Continuing Creation, and New Creation” to be used to identify how a Christian-based ethical response could best be put forward in order to respond to what is happening in the world. For example, do we, as Christians, value the invitation to participate in creation? What sort of people are we going to be? As such, what virtues do we or should we hold? What hope should we hold when we anticipate life for future generations coupled with the eschatological life in God? O’Brien’s article is important because it does address the challenges that western Christianity faces in living out the Gospel faithfully in a world that is rapidly changing –ecologically, technologically, and in its values.
Maja Whitaker’s “Perfected Yet Disabled? Continuity of Embodied Identity in Resurrection Life” raises an important question that many of us ponder – what will we be like in the eschaton? Will we carry the scars that we have here in the now? And, for those with disabilities, will they carry their impairments come resurrection? As Whitaker notes, “Christ’s resurrection provides the model for the Christian’s hope for the afterlife …” Will there be a continuity of our identity? Will who I am now be the same as who the resurrected I will be? These are the questions that she explores in what is a particularly important topic in which there is a range of theories within the Christian framework. She proposes how a prospect of “a perfected, yet still disabled, resurrected body challenges our underlying assumptions about what it means to be human and what human flourishing entails.” Whitaker’s questions are not new ones. I am sure we have all speculated or hoped what our resurrected bodies might be like, but Whitaker’s focus is on what it might be for a person with a disability. We often see disability to be a “problem,” and so she notes that “perhaps the ‘problem’ with a disabled body is not the body itself, but the world which it inhabits.”
Stimulus’ co-editor Mark Keown has an article exploring the movement known as “Christianarchy.” This article is written because of the stance that two friends hold. They are advocates for “Christianarchy,” which is an expression of orthodox Christian thought. The Christianarchy stance is a pacifist movement that says that there should be an abolition of all government and as such, society should be organized in a voluntary, cooperative basis. This form of anarchy is the opposite of the oft-thought violence that is associated with anarchy, as expressed in many instances. Christianarachy holds Christ to be the ruler with authority. Keown explores how we should consider this movement, and ponders the biblical directive scattered particularly throughout the New Testament, asking whether there is enough of a convincing argument as to whether this is indeed a movement that should be considered as an appropriate way for society to operate. Keown finishes his article with this question, “What is a Christian’s relationship with the state?” This is an important question, and whether we agree or not with the Christianarchy movement, it does help bring into focus how we as Christians should consider engaging in public matters.
While each of the three articles discussed thus far has engaged with ethical, social, and political matters, Christopher Longhurst’s article is one of artistic exploration. “Epiphanic Paintings: A Universal Subjective Relationality” discusses how art, which on the surface, seems “secular and abstract can spark insights into deeper realities which religion often calls epiphany.” He contends that within every experience of viewing a painting could be a moment of epiphany because it is within that piece that something can be revealed. It might be subtle, but Longhurst suggests that another type of seeing can be generated, one which is spiritual, and as such, an “epiphany.” Longhurst’s article is interesting because it invites us to stop and pause and allow the depth of art to take us by surprise and to allow what might be hidden to be revealed.
Along with the four articles in this issue, we have our regular columns. In August this year, Tim Keel, the Senior Pastor of Jacobs Well in Kansas City, Missouri, came and taught a block course at Laidlaw’s Henderson Campus on Missional Church Leadership. Tim is an old friend of ours as he also spent two years on the faculty at Laidlaw 2010-2012, and the Stimulus team thought it would be good to have him share his story and thoughts for Ministry Corner.
It is the Laidlaw College’s Counselling team’s turn to provide the Synergeo column. Jane Hepburn, who is based in the Henderson Campus, talks about her vocation as a Christian counsellor. Her column is one that is inspired by a sermon that she heard her pastor preach on Genesis 1:2-13. In Hearts and Minds, Mark Keown shares his thoughts on Philippians 2:5–11, a particularly pivotal passage for him, one which he states changed his life. Geoff New once more takes us on a thoughtful journey in his The Voice column when he brings to life John 4:46–54, which records the encounter of Jesus with the royal official whose son is dying.
In Vision, Nicola Hoggard-Creegan has reviewed the Lightbox television series Ride Upon the Storm, a Danish series that Hoggard-Creegan notes is “religious and Kierkegaardian to the core.” Peter Jelleyman, in his usual music review, has theologically engaged with the song Mercy Sreet by Peter Gabriel, who, in this song, leads the listener “down into the murky underworld of Anne Sexton’s poetry.”
With irony and humour, St Imulus ponders from “above” the various translations of Scripture.
Derek Tovey, our faithful book review editor, has drawn together a variety of books reviewed, which we hope might capture your attention.
As the year draws to a close once more, the Stimulus team wishes you and yours a blessed and restful Christmas season.
Fiona Sherwin is the Stimulus coordinator. As well as pulling the journal together, her time is spent on the Henderson Campus as a part of the Student Support Team.