Spring Lecture: Elaine Graham

Tuesday 21st February 2017 at 19.30

"Speaking of God in a world troubled by Religion”

Canon Professor Elaine Graham is Grosvenor Research
Professor of Practical Theology at the University of Chester and Canon Theologian of Chester Cathedral.

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Admission to this event is free, but advanced booking is advised. Please telephone 01392 285983 (Monday to Friday) or book online.

More information about the event

Elaine Graham writes:

Against many expectations, religion has not vanished from Western culture. If anything, it exercises a greater fascination than ever before. But people are troubled and fascinated in equal measure by this new visibility of faith, not least because those who ‘speak of God in public’ are now in a minority. Society as a whole is nervous about the public engagement of faith groups and whether it is right to (re)incorporate the vocabulary of faith into our common life.

This unprecedented, unanticipated, agonistic co-existence of religion and secularism is sometimes termed the ‘post-secular’, and in my lecture I want to consider some of its implications and especially for the public witness of Christianity. I’ll be arguing that everyone, from Church leaders, theologians to local activists and campaigners, needs to learn again how to ‘speak Christian’ in these contexts, not just to articulate credible theological justifications for their involvement in public life but to justify the very relevance of their faith to a culture that no longer grants automatic privilege or credence.

I’m going to suggest that this entails a retrieval of the practice of apologetics, in terms of Christians being prepared to defend their core principles and convictions in public. An apologetics of presence involves a three-fold process: discerning the actions of God in the world, participating in the praxis of God’s mission and bearing witness to the convictions that underpin that praxis. Rather than being an adversarial or argumentative process, however, this ‘new apologetics’ is an invitation to dialogue and to the rejuvenation of the vocabulary and praxis of public life, as a way of enriching our shared commitment to the common good.

This lecture is based on the forthcoming book by Elaine Graham:

Apologetics without Apology: Speaking of God in a world troubled by religion. (Cascade books)

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