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July 02, 2007


Ben Myers

I'm expecting my copy to arrive any day now -- I'm really looking forward to this one.

I must admit, I felt lousy for admitting recently that I didn't find Colin Gunton's work exciting. I've talked with many of his former students, and I always get the impression that he was a brilliant teacher and mentor.

Perhaps it's a virtue of his theology that it really worked better in person than in print -- i.e., perhaps his own theology was itself a living embodiment of the kind of relationality that he was always talking about!


Andy, are you going to the Gunton conference at Spurgeon's in September? Are Regents guys allowed to go?! ;-)

If so, I'll meet you there. It'd be good to meet you in person, rather than knowing you vicariously through your father!


I enjoyed Colin's lectures when I was an undergrad and he was always very polite and happy to talk with people if they had questions. (Around '97, a friend and I together went to see him to ask questions about the implications of the 'goodness' of creation - and my friend asked him if it was okay therefore to smoke pot! I forget Colin's answer. . .) But I never really thought he was saying anything that original or exciting. And then I started reading his work in more depth and realised two things: that I should have paid far more attention to his lectures and that he was saying precisely the stuff that *is* important, far more important than anyone else. I know that sounds grand, but there you go. . .


I suspect that I am also among those who have expressed bewilderment about the 'fuss' about Colin. I only know him textually (as it were), and I have found his theology to be both wonderfully generative and illuminating, and at other points deeply disappointing, failing to deliver on its promise. The paradigmatic example for me is his Didsbury lectures, in which he so wonderfully rethought creation and all it meant in the first 1/2 to 2/3s of the book, and followed it up with a dull, unimaginative, and entirely predictable (along denominational lines) suggestion about ministry. Now it is no secret that I am an Anglican and if he were to suggest an ecclesiology that is rather more 'reformed' and place serious questions over against a catholic (small 'c') view of ministry, I will have questions. But he relied on straw men and hasty generalisations rather than serious argumentation or creative presentation of an option. I would hope that wouldn't persuade anyone.
Nevertheless, I really quite like much of what he writes and I am always heartened by his desire for faithfulness and his desire for creative, generative statement of the faith. He's not content to unthinkingly repeat, and we're blessed for that.
And your recollection of him squares with others', and is a great reminder that we are far more than our textual presence. So thank God for Colin and the sorts of gifts that he gave to you and a generation of theologians!
I am also eager to read what you think about his Barth Lectures, and look forward to a review.

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