Traditionally, a person’s identity was more predetermined than it is today: where they would live, what they would do, the type of person they would marry, their basic beliefs. In recent years, identity has increasingly become a personal project, enabled by social media to project a person’s chosen image to the outside world. Despite the attractive possibilities that these new opportunities present, many modern factors weigh against a satisfying sense of self: perceptions of personal significance, relationship breakdown, the pace of life itself, multiple careers, consequent social mobility. For increasing numbers of people, modern life has become an environment of identity angst: “being true to yourself” can seem more like a cruel taunt than a piece of realistic advice.
The 2017 New College Lectures considered the thorny issue of personal identity.
While exploring commonly-held beliefs that underpin much of modern life, the three lectures considered the Bible’s answers to the most pressing and personal questions of the postmodern world:
Who are you? What defines you? What makes you, you?
There was also a special opening function on the night of the first lecture. The pre-lecture function included the launch of a new book by Dr Rosner as we also celebrated the 30thAnniversary of the New College Lectures. Known by God: A Biblical Theology of Personal Identity was introduced by Dr John Dickson and copies were available for purchase at the bookstall.
Dr Brian Rosner
Dr Brian Rosner BA (Hons), ThM (Dallas), PhD (Cambridge) is Principal of Ridley College in Melbourne, having lectured previously at Moore Theological College and the University of Aberdeen in Scotland. He is the author or editor of more than a dozen books, including The New Dictionary of Biblical Theology, the Pillar commentary on 1 Corinthians, Greed as Idolatry, Paul and the Law, and most recently, Known by God: A Biblical Theology of Personal Identity. He is a member of the Christian Standard Bible Translation Revision Committee and a Humboldt research fellow in Germany. He is also passionate about promoting the Christian faith in the public sphere and is a fellow of The Centre for Public Christianity. In recent years his articles have appeared in The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age and The Australian and he has been interviewed on Compass and The Spirit of Things.
Lecture 1: You Do You
Lecture 2: The Narratival Self
Lecture 3: You Are Your Story