Imagining the Kingdom
Christian worship and Christian education have a similar end: sending. The goal of each is to form disciples of Jesus who bear God’s image to and for the world. Each seeks the formation of actors who bear witness to God’s coming kingdom. In the 2012 New College Lectures, James K.A. Smith challenged some of our assumptions about why and how we act and the central role of the imagination in shaping our perception of the world and our action within it.
Prof James K.A. Smith
James K.A. Smith is professor of philosophy at Calvin College where he also teaches in the department of congregational & ministry studies and serves as a research fellow of the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship. He is also a Senior Fellow of The Colossian Forum on Faith, Science, and Culture (colossianforum.org). Jamie is an award-winning author whose books include Who’s Afraid of Postmodernism?; Desiring the Kingdom: Worship, Worldview, and Cultural Formation; Thinking in Tongues: Pentecostal Contributions to Christian Philosophy, and most recently, Teaching and Christian Practices: Reshaping Faith and Learning (co-edited with David Smith). His writing has also appeared in magazines such as Christianity Today, Harvard Divinity Bulletin, Christian Century, First Things, and Books & Culture. He and his wife, Deanna, have 4 children and are committed urban dwellers who make their home in the East Hills neighborhood of Grand Rapids, MI.
‘Erotic Comprehension: The Bodily Basis of Meaning’ | Wed 23rd May, 7.30pm
Both our identity and our action flow from our most fundamental desires, longings and loves. In this first lecture Prof Smith outlined an alternative theological anthropology as the basis for Christian formation, both in worship and education. He argued that humans are primarily lovers; the core of the human person is located in the heart defining what we love as ultimate. Christian faith is not just a set of beliefs and doctrines but a mode of erotic comprehension by which we imagine the world differently.
‘Sanctified Perception: How Worship Works’ | Thurs 24th May, 7.30pm
Psychology and cognitive science have begun to appreciate what Christian spirituality has known for ages: action flows out of our habits. Action and behavior is generated by acquired dispositions and habits that become “second nature”. In this lecture, Prof Smith drew on the work of Pierre Bourdieu to consider how perception is shaped by communal practices inscribed in us a pre-intellectual way of relating to and perceiving our world. He suggested that the goal of Christian worship and Christian education, is to “sanctify” perception in order to shape Christian actors.
Education As Formation
A Joint Conference of The Anglican Education Commission (AEC) and The Centre for Apologetic Scholarship & Education (CASE). Smith's work resonates strongly with the work of the AEC as represented in its recent book 'New Perspectives on Anglican Education: Reconsidering Purpose and Plotting a Future Direction'. As a result, we explored some of these issues through the lectures and at an all day conference on the 26th May at New College.