Monday, May 18, 2009

That the First Thing Is: Christ Is

As the newest blogger here at CIC, I've been asked to spill a few words about myself. The following is my best shot (notwithstanding the photo!):

The single most determinative thing is that I confess Christ as Lord and Saviour. I should like to think that apart from this confession, no single other thing makes sense in or of my life; but no doubt that tempts optimism. Perhaps that is why I still confess, and must confess; indeed, why anyone confesses in these last days.

Even so, I'm wary of too much self-abstraction in the confession, 'I am a Christian.' Perhaps it is better to say that those who know me best affirm that what I confess is true. This is not to supplant the determinative centrality of Christ in my life with the communion of saints who so testify, but merely to recognize that apart from the church, I should not hope to trust in the truth of any of my own well-meaning self-declarations. Christ has not left us to flounder alone; I do not wish to try. That seems to me to be the wisdom in the title 'Christians in Context.' If we're not 'in context' we're not anywhere; and the most determinative context I consider to be the witnessing church.

In this vein, in just that breath which declares Christ is Lord, I surrender my 'I' to a fuller 'we' which is God's grace in my life: the gift of my fiancee, Lauren (shown with me above). If I am not what I declare I am, she knows; if I doubt what I know I am, she declares; if I know what I doubt I am, she is. Si fallor, sum [if I am mistaken, I am] was St Augustine's final word against global scepticism; si fallor, ea est; si fallimur, Christus est - at least one way of putting things for us.

Passing through these to particulars: raised and educated in Midwest America (Chicago), now a postgraduate student at the University of Edinburgh School of Divinity, I currently focus my research on St Augustine's conception of knowledge and the person under the supervision of Oliver O'Donovan. I hold a B.A. in English and religious studies from the University of Illinois, and I'm completing my first of three years as a recipient of the British Marshall scholarship (hence my status abroad).

Moving right along, my academic interests should include everything: for is that not the great thing about theology? Wittgenstein once quipped that the hardest part about philosophy was knowing when to stop; I should add that this is no less true about theology, save for an essential caveat: true theology rejoices. It rejoices because it has something over which to rejoice: the truth, which is hers to confess, within which all questions and uncertainties may be raised and explored.

Yet despite this universality of interests, I sure do find some things quite boring. That is why you can probably expect from me posts on the following topics: politics, political theology, philosophy (science, religion, history), ethics, epistemology, and technology. I'll do my best to be brief, though I think some things demand further attention.

Last, the authors I read: I'll name one ancient and two modern ones. Obviously my interest in St Augustine is clear - he's made one busy postgraduate out of me. Then I'm very much interested in theologians Stanley Hauerwas and Oliver O'Donovan, two voices at odds with one another in significantly enough ways to merit careful attention. I'm not sure on what side I land for this or that - and there are certainly other sides to consider - but their ongoing discussion will no doubt surface in my contributions. They have certainly influenced the manner in which I dispose of certain questions and raise others.

And so many thanks for this auto-biographical moment, which I expect to be my last. Again, a great privilege to correspond with friends and strangers through this medium, which I have observed producing some great stuff. May all to the glory of Christ be committed.

1 comment:

Jeffrey Bruce said...

Great to have you on board Ian.