Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Ecclesial theology in the Baptist academy

Among the academic/professional organizations of which I am a member, the National Association of Baptist Professors of Religion is the one most directly associated with my concrete ecclesial community of reference. The NABPR describes itself in this way on the home page of its web site:

The National Association of Baptist Professors of Religion is a community of teaching scholars. Most members teach at Baptist-affiliated schools, colleges, and seminaries, but members also hail from a wide range of institutions in the United States, Canada, and abroad, including church-related and state-supported schools.

The NABPR will hold its annual meeting May 22-25 on the campus of Gardner-Webb University in Boiling Springs, North Carolina. If the program for the meeting now available online is any indication, ecclesial theology--theology done in, with, and for the church--is alive and well in the Baptist academy.

The official opening of the meeting is preceded by a Doctoral Student Network Workshop intended to introduce Baptist doctoral students in religious and theological studies to the resources and mentors that can help them become Baptist scholars whose Baptist ecclesial formation shapes their scholarship rather than scholars who merely happen to be Baptists (The NABPR Doctoral Student Network also maintains a Facebook group). The titles of plenary addresses and papers presented in program units are evidence that the Baptist teaching scholars and graduate students on the program are deeply interested in the connections between their specialized disciplines in religious/theological studies, their Baptist ecclesial identity, the larger Christian tradition, and the embodied life of various forms of Baptist church and denominational community, even while they make notable contributions to scholarship in their disciplines beyond the Baptist academy.

I'm encouraged by these details of what promises to be a richly rewarding meeting. Those interested in attending may find registration information here.

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