205 episodes

Gospel Conversations takes a creative approach to attaining a deeper understanding of the gospel and what it means to us today. Our speakers are not ministers, but range from a diverse community of Christian thinkers who lead their various fields of knowledge in history, design thinking, theology, philosophy, and organisational leadership—among others. Each month we host a live event in Sydney, then publish it as a podcast.

Gospel Conversations Gospel Conversations

    • Religion & Spirituality
    • 4.9 • 17 Ratings

Gospel Conversations takes a creative approach to attaining a deeper understanding of the gospel and what it means to us today. Our speakers are not ministers, but range from a diverse community of Christian thinkers who lead their various fields of knowledge in history, design thinking, theology, philosophy, and organisational leadership—among others. Each month we host a live event in Sydney, then publish it as a podcast.

    Drama and the humble God - Exodus in the gospel pt 3

    Drama and the humble God - Exodus in the gospel pt 3

    Here is the third talk in our journey through Exodus as an analogy of redemption. In this talk we explore Exodus through the lens of drama.  Of course, the whole Bible is in essence a drama in that it is a narrative or story grounded in events rather than abstract ideas. So we have to discern the ideas that the story generates. And in a way that is not a closed book – simply because the ideas are about God and his work and that is eternal.
    I use the legendary work of a great scholar of literature and philosophy, Edmund Burke, to unpack ‘drama’ for us and so give us the ability to go a bit deeper. A great friend of mine, Richard Buchanan, once told me that the breakthrough intellectually on any topic was the first level of declension after the big word…. So ‘drama’ is a big word, and a bit too big to do much with. But Burke’s five terms takes us one level down and gives us something to work with.
    Actually I use the ‘drama’ schematic in both this talk and the next one. In this talk I look at the theological and philosophical suggestions of using ‘drama’ as the structure for a divine text. It is a pretty simple but profound idea: most religious texts present us with precepts or axioms – kind of like a rule book.
    But ‘drama’ is utterly different. It is much more mysterious and leaves a lot of work up to us to figure out what is going on.
    But drama that includes the divine does something else – it implies a very different conception of ‘God’ and his ‘working’ to the normal picture most of us have of the omnipotent God – and that is what I unpack in this talk.The book of Burke’s that I quote from is called “A Rhetoric of Motives” – it is pretty heavy and only for the literary minded. But the word ‘motives’ captures the essence of his theory of drama – it a genre about intent. And that really positions it as appropriate for understanding the Bible as a discourse unfolding God’s intent.

    • 29 min
    Salvation as re-creation - Exodus in the gospel part 2

    Salvation as re-creation - Exodus in the gospel part 2

    Welcome back to Gospel Conversations.
    So on with the Exodus journey as we 'cross the river and start to generate some new paradigms for the gospel. I like the term 'paradigm' as it does explain what we are trying to do rather well. A paradigm is a way of looking at something or a way of arranging it in our minds. So it is a 'pattern'. In a sense it is very different from 'content. It is much more a way of looking at the same content, but differently.
    In my experience, paradigms are the critical ways to grow and develop. Changing them seems not just intellectual but existential. Sometimes people only change paradigms when circumstances force them to do so. By that I mean, circumstances reveal the inadequacy of old paradigms, and demand we develop new ones. For lots of people this is just plain scary but I think it is the means of growth.
    So I am presenting Exodus as a 'paradigm' through which we can look at the same gospel in broader ways. In this talk I use literary features to the Exodus event - and how it is handled by the prophets much later in the OT. As I have often said, "bible as literature" is a new and widening approach to reading the Bible. In this talk I look at the way the motif of 'creation' is echoed, built on, and then extended through the lens of the Exodus account.
    So 'creation' is not just used as a one-off image, for salvation but it is an organising motif that recurs throughout the OT - and the NT. So we get a kind of reverberation of themes that echo back and forth; they reach back and they reach forward. The upshot is that the governing theme or image emerges as something much bigger than any of the events that it illuminates. It emerges as the architecture of what is happening. So that is what I am arguing in this talk that the 'creation/Genesis' framework does. In this talk, I mention how Alexander Solzhenitsyn did something very similar in his epic book, 'Cancer Ward'. If you have never read any Solzhenitsyn, and want to find a good - or great - novel to read, have a go at 'Cancer Ward'. It is mesmerising.

    • 47 min
    The Gospel according to Exodus

    The Gospel according to Exodus

    Welcome to a new series called ‘What is the Gospel?’   It builds on the ‘Cross and Creation’ talks that Andrew and I gave. Those talks explored difficulties in the traditional ‘Penal Substitution Model’ but in a sense they left us with a void – what alternative image(s) can replace the Penal model. This is what we now move onto with the ‘What is the gospel’ series.
    First cab off the rank is “The Gospel according to Exodus”.  It began as a single talk but quickly got so promising and sprawling that we developed it into four parts, each with a separate talk. We developed it with a couple of deep discussions amongst the GC team, but I delivered them.
    I am pretty excited by this series and must say that I found the journey personally expansive. I had subconsciously recognised ‘salvation story’ typologies in Exodus but never made much of them – beyond the obvious one of the Passover.  But as we allowed the typology to unfold it got a lot bigger than that. Lots of people have successfully critiqued the PSA model – but in general we are left without strong alternative metaphors, and this is a real problem simply because the penal model is so evocative and strong.
    Talk one introduces the journey and I explain the ‘generative’ role that metaphor or analogy plays. I use a technique we developed effectively in 2nd Road called ‘Crossing the River’ and I take some time to explain it.
    Of course, modern evangelical biblical criticism is pretty sceptical about any ‘analogical/metaphorical’ reading of the Scriptures. I defend the analogy approach a little bit in the beginning of this talk – but if you want to take it further, then I recommend Richard Hays to you. Hays has written a couple of profound books on a more literary reading of the scriptures – and defends it by explaining how Paul used analogy to ‘read backwards’ into the Scriptures (which for him was what we call the Old Testament).  So Hays’ books are ‘Reading backwards’ and ‘The Conversion of the Imagination: Paul as Interpreter of Israel’s Scriptures’.
    I build some of my ideas on a great essay by George Athas, who is a lecturer in OT at Moore college. His paper is called “The Creation of Israel: the Cosmic Proportions of the the Exodus Event”.  I downloaded it from academia.edu.  He offers us an academically rigorous foundation on which to build a more cosmological reading of the Exodus narrative.

    • 55 min
    BwJ 25 -What is glory?

    BwJ 25 -What is glory?

    Well, we have finished the trilogy of Iain Provan’s talks on creation and it provides a nice foundation for all of our thinking in Gospel Conversations. In this next podcast I pick up the Breakfast with Jesus journey through Ezekiel that Anne and I enjoyed so much. You will see a lot of resonances with Iain’s talks. In this talk I ask a question that might seem obvious but in fact is not – ‘What is glory?’ I confess that I never much asked this question for most of my early Christian life, so I just skated over the word and let it become a cliché. The question completes our BwJ series on the book of Ezekiel being framed by ‘glory’ – and in my last talk I explored the wider vision of the ‘temple’ that animates Ezekiel, where ‘temple’ becomes a synecdoche for the entire created order. But we need the second half of the concept to complete this transporting vision of creation and that is ‘glory’ filling this creation temple. In this talk I foreshadow a couple of conversations that we are going to have with Professor David Bradshaw later this year. David is Professor of Philosophy at Kentucky University and his thinking on glory is eye-opening – he explains how the Eastern church fathers explored ‘glory’ in ways that the Western church – to its loss – did not. So you can look forward to that. I also mention Meredith Kline in this talk. You probably have not heard of him, but he was a big influence on two of our friends, Rikk Watts and Mark Strom. The book that I quote from in this talk is “Images of the Spirit” and it is still freely available from online bookstores. Finally, I mention a conversation with a friend of mine at the end of this talk – I have made this letter anonymous and we will post it on the Gospel Conversations website. It is an example of how we might use the creation gospel as the platform for sharing the good news with seekers.

    • 30 min
    What is Creation? with Iain Provan

    What is Creation? with Iain Provan

    Here is the third and final of our reboots from Iain Provan’s epic 2011 series on the Old Testament Reloaded – “What is Creation?”. In this talk Iain concludes his magnificent trilogy of talks positioning the vast Mosaic vision of God and reality in contrast to the prevailing Ancient Near Eastern worldviews. It is so important to grasp the fact that this was a contest of worldviews – not religions. In the ANE world, the ‘cosmology’ was their total worldview – it was philosophy, reality, society and values. So Moses upturned all of this. We do Moses a vast disservice if we then put him back in our ‘religious’ box – and we can learn from these talks how to widen our grammar of the gospel from merely religious language to all of life language. This talk will echo lots of the themes that I raised in my latest Breakfast with Jesus talk on Ezekiel’s Wider Vision of the Temple where I explained some of the motifs that link the cosmos to the temple. Iain goes into even deeper detail here and weaves a vast tapestry together of OT allusions to the creation as ‘sacred space’. His overarching theme is that creation is not divine – but it is sacred. But Iain does not stop there – he moves onto the associated vision of humanity that this ‘cosmos as temple’ vision implies. That humanity is placed in the temple as the image of God – the vice regent of created space. If you like listening to Iain, then dive into more of his talks on our website. You will find two series there – the 2011 series called ‘The OT Reloaded’ and the 2015 series called ‘Seriously Dangerous Religion’. We will add a great short bibliography that Iain gave us recommending some key resources if we want to take some of the thinking further. Of course, one of them is John Walton, another valued guest of ours in Gospel Conversations. Our next talk will return to Ezekiel to continue the Breakfast with Jesus series. In that talk we will discuss ‘What is ‘glory’?’

    • 58 min
    Was Dawkins right about the angry God? with Ian Provan

    Was Dawkins right about the angry God? with Ian Provan

    This episode is a repost of a talk by Iain Provan from his epic series on the ‘Old Testament Reloaded’ in 2011.  Originally titled ‘Who is God?’ we have renamed it ‘Was Dawkins right about the angry God?’ because that is fundamentally what Iain concentrates on. It is a wonderful talk that is foundational for any Christian’s faith. With his characteristic understated Scottish style, Iain brilliantly lays down the most basic foundation for our faith – the notion that God is not only eternal and sovereign but that he is fundamentally good and on our side.

    • 1 hr 5 min

Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5
17 Ratings

17 Ratings

paradoxjb ,

Top Notch Conversations

This stuff is great. It’s all about getting theology out of its sometimes stuffy quarters into the exciting world of work and creativity, where real life happens. Love your work Tony and co.; it’s inspiring, down to earth, real, intellectually engaging, and is helping re-vision Jesus not as a religious figure, but as a brilliant Someone you’d love to introduce to your mates.

Probably not for those highly committed to any certain theological position at all costs. Then again...maybe it is.

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