Category: 2021

Logia Post for December: Wishing Life on You All

By: Christa L. McKirland

Kia ora koutou! 

This is the greeting I have learned since moving to Aotearoa New Zealand in January of 2020. Literally, this greeting means “Wishing life on you all” in te Reo Māori (the language of Indigenous New Zealanders). Little did I know that seven weeks after arriving in this new land we would all be in lock-down and my first class to teach as a gainfully employed theologian would be online. This was not the life-giving start to teaching I had hoped for! However, in spite of all of the challenges that the global pandemic has created, I have also been deeply enriched by living in this place and learning how to do theology in a radically different context from anywhere I’ve ever been. I am learning what it means to do theology in a nation (in which many are) keenly grappling with its colonised and colonising history.[1] I am learning how patriarchy is so often an outworking of colonialism and that to tackle the former without tackling the latter will simply reinforce my own colonising tendencies. This has been a tough pill to swallow. At the same time, it’s been liberating.

Willie Jenning’s groundbreaking work, After Whiteness: An Education in Belonging, explains how theological educational systems are intrinsically formational. However, who they are intended to produce is the “white self-sufficient man.”[2] We see this especially outworked in western theological educational systems which reinforce the idea that mastery over one’s subject area is the primary goal of theological education. The process of such formation instills a deep fear of the scholar ever answering a question with “I don’t know.” As such, it works against vulnerability—of un-mastery. I have found this even more pronounced as a woman who perpetually feels the weight of perfectly representing half the population in historically male-dominated spaces. However, I am learning the freedom of un-mastery and the joy of not knowing.

I am genuinely learning with my students. My view of God has expanded. My understanding of the significance of land for identity (both individual and corporate) has deepened. My valuation of and accountability to those who have come before me and who will come after me is now frequently on my mind. All of this is shaping me as the person that I am and the scholar that I am continually becoming.

It is within this context that Logia is also continuing to thrive. We have focused on hearing from women in the Southern Hemisphere over these past two years through our blog series. And even with lockdowns and travel restrictions, relationships are developing globally through scholarly networks and our new mentoring programme. Logia is also thriving in its original context and we are excited to see a new season of leadership at the University of St Andrews (our birthplace) with Joanna Leidenhag and Hannah Craven passing the baton to Dani Ross and Melissa Barciela Mandala. Within our Advisory Board, Eric Stoddart, Joanna Leidenhag, and Sofanit Ababe are joining our team to continue to give guidance and support to our global efforts. We are so grateful for the service of Madhavi Nevader, Andrea White, Natalia Marandiuc, and Seblewengel Daniel for their wisdom over these past two years.

There is still much to do to encourage women to pursue postgraduate study in the divinity disciplines around the world. There is much to unlearn and we continue to need brave partners who will dare query established modes of theological discourse and institutional goals of formation. We look forward to 2022 and encouraging women to be what they want to see, Logia’s small way of wishing life on you all.

[1] I’m very grateful to be at a theological institution that is not only a Logia Global Partner but is also working toward dismantling the effects of colonisation. See this summary from Dr. Sandy Kerr, our recent Kaiārahi-Rangahau Māori

[2] William James Jennings, After Whiteness: An Education in Belonging, (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2020), 6. Also, “whiteness” is not so much about the amount of melanin in one’s skin as much as it is a posture of control and domination over-against all that is deemed other to it.

Dr. Christa L. McKirland is the Executive Director of Logia International and a lecturer in systematic theology at Carey Baptist College in Aotearoa New Zealand. She is currently the Project Leader for a John Templeton grant on “Theological Anthropology, Fundamental Need, and Human Flourishing.” She is learning what flourishing does (and doesn’t) look like with a three and five-year-old while seeking to co-parent with her partner, Matt.

Photo by Jordan Steranka on Unsplash

Logia Profile for October: A Christian Calling of Creation Care

Featured Contributor: Rev. Silvia Purdie

The church is called by God to care for creation. This conviction motivates me to help people of faith to engage with environmental sustainability and climate change. But what do I mean by ‘called by God to care for creation’?

The gift of academic study, research, and writing is the space and discipline to push into our assumptions. After a decade as a parish minister, I have taken the last 18 months as an extended sabbatical to dig deeper and explore wider into creation care. Without the routines of church life, and within the vast strangeness of the ‘COVID-19 world’, I asked: How does God call the church to care for creation? What specifically does this look like? How do people experience this?

This work began within an academic frame: a dissertation to complete my Post Graduate Diploma in Theology through the University of Otago. My topic was ‘motivation for eco mission’, and my research involved interviews with local church groups who were engaged in environmental projects. I am currently collating a book, with interviews and contributions from Christian women around Aotearoa from a range of cultures. Writing this Logia blog is a good opportunity for me to reflect: what have I noticed about these stories?

What I notice depends on where I sit. I am a middle-class, middle-aged Pakeha (white NZer) woman. My perceptions filter through my reactions, which themselves are complex: my love for the natural world, especially the beauty of Aotearoa, and my love for God, nurtured in diverse Christian contexts. I am keenly aware of having benefited from a high carbon lifestyle, and my mix of gratitude, guilt, and fear for the future. I am pained by the multi-layered injustice of climate change, exacerbating inequality. As I choose the role of collator of the stories of others I run the risk of imposing my own agenda. I work to be open about where I come from and respectful of difference. In passionately promoting faith-based environmental action I seek to honour the experience of Christians who share a sense of calling to care for the natural world. I wish to highlight four threads that I hear coming through the interviews.

First I heard each person articulate a belief that God calls all Christians to care for the created world, and I heard them describe this call as a personal experience. There may be Christians out there who work to protect the natural environment from purely rational or financial reasons, but I have not met any. Those I know care deeply about the created world and talk about this as an integration of emotional, spiritual, biblical, moral, and practical elements.

Here are just a few of their responses:

“My motivation to get involved is because I do believe that it’s the right thing to do and a natural expression of faith in God.”

“The beauty of creation is something I just adore. I just can’t get over how absolutely incredible it all is!”

“This call for active involvement in conservation is actually not an option. It’s a command that God gave us. Our focus and our priority is sharing that concept and embodying that in our lives as a community.”

The second common thread I noticed was the conviction that caring for creation is also caring for people. Faith-based eco mission strongly connects environment and justice issues. The interviewees were all keenly aware that how we live in New Zealand has a direct impact on vulnerable communities. They challenge their churches to be proactive in preventing poverty caused by climate change rather than just responding to disasters.

At a local level, growing food together is one way to meet human need as well as care for the environment. One woman shared a story of two young brothers coming to the community garden in a small town impacted by methamphetamine addiction:

 “Because their grandfather had shown them how to garden, that was for them the start of their journey to give up meth, and we supported them. That was two years ago, and they have both been meth-free. And now they tell their stories, share and help people, and dig the garden! Thank you God!”

Third, I was struck by the diversity of eco mission. Even within the small local groups here in Christchurch there is an astonishing range of projects. Environmental mission can look like: weeding around native plantings in a public reserve and children’s craft activities; taking young people rafting and setting predator traps; writing reports and bike rides; global mission partnerships and prayer vigils before a climate march; writing worship resources or church picnics. These are merely a few of so many ways to participate in environmental mission. Creation care is not a set programme. Each person’s unique gifts enable opportunities to care for the environment as an expression of faith. This was described by those I interviewed as a vital component of church mission.

 “Environmental concern and a more responsible attitude to looking after the earth has got to be one of our new modern tools in the church for engaging with our society. This is a perfect opportunity for the church to show that we care.”

Finally, I noticed the interviewees crediting God with sustaining their motivation through challenges. In each interview I heard both ‘fire in the belly’ energy, but I also heard struggle and disappointment. I share a similar experience, in that creation care is often a ‘2-steps-forward-1-step-back’ process, of making progress and having setbacks—especially with a global pandemic. Lockdowns have forced us all to sit more lightly with our plans! Those I interviewed described having hope not in their own actions but in God.

“There is a lot of hopelessness about the environment, but we do have hope, because we have an all powerful God, that it can actually make a difference. Jesus is going to redeem everything.”

Some described experiences they interpreted as hearing God’s voice.

“I go through moments of incredible doubt: should I still be doing this? I was out surfing and I felt God say “It matters to me.” What I am doing matters to God. But also beyond me, this creation matters to God. That word kept me going.”

Sadly, Christians are not well-known for environmental action. However, what I see is a growing movement of people of faith who believe that God is calling them personally and collectively to care for creation. I interpret this as God at work raising people up to care for the world, both the natural environment and human community. I am inspired by how individual Christians experience this, how it sparks motivation and sustains effort across a surprising diversity of projects. My own testimony is of God stirring my heart and pushing me into wide-open spaces. I sense the Spirit throwing me crazy questions such as “What if all our Christian academic institutions integrated environmental sustainability into every department?”, or “How could social service agencies be encouraged to develop their own green practice?” These are far too big for me, but that is how I believe God works. As we respond to God’s call to care for creation motivation grows and fresh opportunities emerge. The world’s problems seem to multiply, but faith and hope and love rise to meet the challenge.

Silvia is a counsellor, supervisor, sustainability consultant and ordained Presbyterian minister. She convenes the Christchurch group of A Rocha Aotearoa New Zealand (link: ). She currently lives on the Burnham army base, with her army chaplain husband. Her resources for sustainability, faith, and worship include Psalms reimagined in contemporary terms and a Bible study on waste: ‘Let’s Say A Psalm’ is her published collection for children and all-age worship (link: Current writing projects include a book on ministry transitions and grief, studies for Christian young people on climate change, and celebrating Kiwi women active in creation care. She has established Place Consultancy to resource the community sector in environmental sustainability:

Feature photo by Davide Pietralunga on Unsplash

Logia Profile for September: Existent Endurance, Vulnerability, and Future Joy

by Dr Jacqueline Service

Endurance, perseverance, vulnerability. Such words are far from summarising the appetite of our modern era. The dominant anthem of our age extols the way of the ‘immediate’, the ‘now’ of instant gratification, and, preferably, at no personal cost. The Christian tradition has, however, contemplated a pilgrimage of life via a different way: a way of waiting. This waiting is, though, not a static stagnancy; an interval without movement. The faithful waiting of the Christian life should rather be distinguished as an active hope. Jürgen Moltmann clarified that “hastening” accompanies the wait:

We wait and hasten, we hope and endure, we pray and watch, we are both patient and curious. That makes the Christian life exciting and alive.[1]

For Moltmann, the Christian life encompassed both a patient and active anticipation of the future in the present. This concept is what theologians refer to as ‘proleptic eschatology’. Here, Christian theology posits a future certainty of the Divine purpose, plan, and promise of Shalom (abundant life[2]) that simultaneously propels the present whilst awaiting fulfilment. In other words, the vision of the future shapes the choices of the present and determines the content of the hastening.

Scripture attests such a structure to the life of faith. The Old Testament patriarch, Joseph, over a 20-year period, waited (and suffered) for the sure fulfilment of his divinely descended dream (Gen 37, 42). Joseph did not passively wait for his promised future, but he waited in active anticipation of the fulfillment of God’s purpose and plan revealed to him in his dream. Mary, theotokos, would wait over 30 years for the fulfilment of the promise announced to her (Lk 1:26-38), that her son, Jesus, would be a salvific balm for Israel. Mary though, knowing the promise of the future, did not succumb to lazy lingering, but surely hastened the day by teaching her son the content of his future ministry. Her Magnificat prophetically announced God’s impending action: the divine scattering of the proud, the bringing down of the powerful, the lifting of the lowly, and filling of the hungry (Lk 1:51-53). In the shadow of his mother’s waiting faithfulness, the yet-to-be realised promises conferred on Jesus would be subject to active hastening.

As a woman called to the task of theological education, I too have discovered such a pattern of active-waiting in the expression of my life. Like many women called to serve the Church and society through the twin imperatives of theological contemplation and public engagement, I have found myself in an uneasy wrestle between waiting and hastening. For over 20 years, alongside a career in the Law and in International Aid and Development, I also trained myself to be proficient biblically and theologically – this was my hastening towards serving the Church and society. Yet, for over 20 years I also endured, and at times, suffered, in the uncertain wait for the fruit of the labour; not always knowing the ‘what’, ‘when’, ‘where’, ‘how’ of the walk I was on. The future remained as unseen potential. Now, as a lecturer in systematic theology, alongside continuing work for the alleviation of poverty, there is some realisation of that to which I have hastened. However, throughout my active-wait (that still continues), I have often needed the reminder of a verse from the New Testament Letter to the Hebrews – “for the joy set before him he endured the cross” (Heb 12:2). In this short phrase, the author connects Jesus’ anticipation of the future with a preceding endurance. The future was set before him. The joy was not the immediacy of the now, but rather the future vision of a secured truth sustaining his ‘now’. The immediacy for Jesus was the suffering of the cross. The joy of divine promise, whilst present as potentiality, would have to wait.

Hebrews 12:2 contains a nascent principle that is contrasted with our modern outlook. We live in a world that tends towards an aversion of the vicissitudes of life, preferring images of joy and flourishing through the filtered perfection of social media. Common truisms, both secular as well as Christian, also encourage us to hasten quickly to future joy, downplaying the value of waiting, endurance, or vulnerability. In my home country, Australia, a slang phrase – ‘she’ll be right’, is commonly used to glide over hardship, averting any hint of vulnerability. A similar aversion is found too among Christians. One is more likely to find an encouraging coffee-mug espousing – ‘they will soar on wings like eagles’ (Is 40:31) than the reminder to plod ‘through the darkest valley’ (Ps 23:4). Such truisms have correspondence with what Anglican theologian, Sarah Coakley, identifies as “repression of vulnerability.”[3] They place a higher value on restraining or avoiding fragility or endurance, hesitating at ascribing such aspects of human life with pivotal significance.

The Christian narrative of the death and resurrection of Jesus, however, gives us theological pause to consider the interlaced importance of existent enduring and future joy for shaping human life. In theological discourse, however, the events of Christ’s passion are, to a degree, contemplated independently. Some scholars emphasise the Cross,[4] some Holy Saturday[5] while others highlight the Resurrection.[6] But perhaps these events may be more profitably interpreted as a whole; where Jesus’s passion is a union of equally contingent parts—Jesus went through (not around) the Friday of the Cross, through the silence of Saturday, and through to Sunday’s joy of resurrection. Whilst these events were distinct they should not be theologically dislocated. From the view of Christ prior to his crucifixion, Friday (enduring the cross) and Saturday (silence) were the sine qua non of Sunday’s potentiality (resurrection joy).

Such an understanding of the integral connection of endurance and future joy is also consistent with the reality of creaturely life. In contrast to divinity, temporal and finite creatures are subject to potentiality (a topic explored in my research regarding human well-being and triune ontology). Joy set before us is always subject to delay. For humans, there is an intervallic tension between the present ‘now’ and the future ‘not-yet’. Along this vein, Russian Orthodox theologian, Sergeĭ Bulgakov, argued, “creation is temporal, and the temporality of becoming is the very nature of creation.”[7] Human life is characterised by contingent ‘becoming’. Such is the nature of the human – we live in the interval between what is and what will be. This means that future possibility is inevitably infused with delay requiring endurance and vulnerability. This kind of temporal reality is in contradiction to the prevailing theme of Western life – that waiting, endurance or vulnerability is an interrupting hindrance merely to be overcome.

Interestingly, not only the passion events, but a theology of Christ’s being also allows us to consider further the union of both temporal delay with the hope of divine potentiality. The Christian doctrine, espoused at the Council of Chalcedon (451), regarding the union of humanity and divinity in Christ, provides a further insight; that in assuming a human nature, God, in Christ Jesus, underscores a connection between the normalcy of uncertain human potency with the certainty of divine life. In Christ’s life and being, therefore, lies a depth of meaning often missed; the integral union between endurance to realise the joy set before us with the vision of divinely secured joy itself. Coakley articulates a similar view. She says, “the hiatus of expectant waiting” or “vulnerability” may, through Christian reconceptualization, be viewed as “power-in-vulnerability”, the place of the “self’s transformation and expansion into God.”[8] Instead of uncritical acquiescence to a common societal pattern that considers endurance, waiting, or vulnerability as something merely to mitigate or avoid, Christian theology offers a reconfiguration. This reconfiguration regards vulnerable uncertainty, delay, and enduring towards potentiality as essential contours on the road towards the future. When set in the horizon of Christ’s example, a Christian theology of hope “does not give faith only wings, as we say: it gives faith also the power to stand firm and to endure to the end.”[9]

[1] Jürgen Moltmann, The Spirit of Life: A Universal Affirmation, trans. Margaret Kohl (Minneapolis, Fortress Press, 1992), 97.

[2] Nicholas Wolterstorff, “Justice as a Condition of Authentic Liturgy,” Theology Today, vol.48. no. 1 (1991), 16.

[3] Sarah Coakley, Powers and Submissions: Spirituality, Philosophy and Gender (Blackwell: Oxford, 2002), chapter 1. Coakley’s concern is primarily in relation to the danger of the repression in Christian feminism of “all forms of ‘vulnerability’, and in a concomitant failure to confront issues of fragility, suffering or ‘self-emptying’ except in terms of victimology.” Coakley ultimately articulates a position where forms of ‘waiting’, ‘bewilderment and pain’ are, for the Christian, ‘transformative and empowering’, an issue, she says, “that Christian feminism ignores at its peril.” pp.33, 39.

[4] Jürgen Moltmann, The Crucified God: The Cross of Christ as the Foundation and Criticism of Christian Theology, trans. R.A. Wilson and John Bowden (London: SCM Press, 1974).

[5] Hans Urs von Balthasar, Theo-Drama: Theological Dramatic Theory – Vol IV The Action, trans. Graham Harrison (San Francisco: Ignatius, 1994).

[6] Robert W. Jenson, Systematic Theologyvol.1, The Triune God (New York: Oxford University Press, 2001).

[7] Sergeĭ Bulgakov, The Bride of the Lamb, trans. Boris Jakim (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2002), 58.

[8] Coakley, Powers and Submissions, 36.

[9] Jurgen Moltmann, Ethics of Hope, trans. Margaret Kohl (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2012), 7.

Dr Jacqueline Service

B.A. Intercultural Studies (Tabor); LLB (Hons, ANU); GDLP (NSW College of Law); MTh (Distinction, CSU); PhD (University Medal, CSU).

Lecturer in Systematic Theology | School of Theology |

Charles Sturt University (St Mark’s National Theological Centre)

15 Blackall St, Barton, ACT 2600. Australia. |

Jacqueline is Lecturer in Systematic Theology at Charles Sturt University (St Mark’s National Theological Centre), Australia. Her research focus is on Trinitarian Theology and Christian Metaphysics, Divine Ontology of Well-Being and Theology of Development and Social Justice. She is a Board Member of Micah Australia, a movement of Australian Christians advocating for political leaders to address poverty and injustice in our world.

Featured image by Nathan Dumlao

Logia Profile for August: How the Workplace Shapes Us

by Kara Martin

The field of faith and spirituality in the workplace is a burgeoning area of research and discussion. It includes terms such as “faith and work”, “religion and work”, “workplace spirituality”. It encompasses all faith traditions, as well as the non-religious, and is integrated with the field of management.

While there is nominalism in every religious tradition, Christianity perhaps more than others has had a custom of separating the sacred from the secular. This is because in other faiths, such as Islam and Hinduism, there are daily prayer rituals, washing practices, dress codes and/or food laws that seamlessly interweave religion into every waking hour.

Christianity, however, has always grappled with the Greek philosophical tradition that it was born into, which encouraged a divide between the soul/spirit and what was done with the body. Plato especially was strident on the body as being merely a vessel to hold the beauty of the soul. There are ancient cartoons that mock Christianity for worshipping a ‘god’ that had died on a cross. Early Christians argued over whether it was possible for Jesus to be fully god and fully human; until the creed at the Council of Nicaea in 325 declared that Jesus was “begotten, not made”, not a mere creature, but “of one substance” with God.

Yet time and again, this soul/body separation has extended to a sacred/secular separation, where the church has seen itself (what happens in the building on a Sunday) as central to God’s work, separated out from the world. People’s ordinary work is seen as only having value in funding the ‘real’ work of God in the church.

This sacred-secular distortion impacts personal understanding of faith. As one Christian worker told me: “There is nothing on the outside that reveals the faith within.” There is a practice for many Christians of keeping their private faith separate from public life. Often this separation is reinforced in Australian society where it still is taboo to discuss politics, money, sex … and religion.

Yet, the Apostle Paul declares that the whole person is changed once they become a Christian: they are a “new creation” (2 Corinthians 5:17), and the whole body is a “living sacrifice” (Romans 12:1), and “whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as if working for the Lord, not human masters” (Colossians 3:23). Thus, breaking down the sacred-secular divide for Christians offers exciting potential for seeing our daily work in a new light, as something of interest to God.

However, once the barrier between religious and mundane has been removed, we must progress from “Oh, wow!” to “So, how?” How can Christians be better equipped to link their faith with their ordinary work?

In the last four years, I have been investigating that ‘So, how?’ question. I had already published books covering a theology of work, spiritual disciplines for the workplace, practical wisdom for working, and how churches can equip workplace Christians. Now, I wanted to investigate beneath the surface.

There is a large range of training options that exist for workplace Christians. The question remains: what is the most effective teaching for Christians to receive to enable them to flourish in making faith–work connections? What knowledge, skills or values should they develop?

I surveyed all that was available from a variety of Christian organisations and churches and summarised 35 variables covering knowledge, skills and values. I then tested those variables with ten doctors and ten teachers who had been recommended by Christian professional organisations as being integrated Christian workers. The interviewees selected their top two choices in each section and were then asked to tell positive and negative stories about Christians in relation to those variables to draw out evidence of the constructs behind the variables. These vocations were chosen because they worked with other Christians and were able to tell stories about their work.

A clear top result in the knowledge category for both vocational groups was spiritual disciplines that deepen intimacy with God. Spiritual disciplines include practices such as reading the sacred text, prayer, meditation—not as ends in themselves, but as keys to developing a relationship with God.

Clearly in second place was the biblical narrative. One teacher noted, “You need to understand the big story [in the Bible], and the place of story, and the place of the discipline [you teach] in that story. For example, science is about understanding the world God has made, and worshipping [the creator]. We can use this world to benefit others. Science has purpose, it’s living out our calling as a human.”

Perhaps the surprising top result in the skills category was influence others through servant leadership. One doctor explained: “This is where you can really make a difference as a leader in the world. There are still many leaders who call the shots, and lead in a very autocratic manner; they don’t bring their teams along with them, and are still very patriarchal in their leadership models. You can really show difference, what we are doing is quite a different model of leadership; and servant-leadership is counter-cultural in an Australian hospital context.”

The second and third skill choices were very close. Teachers clearly preferred building authentic relationships, as one affirmed: “In the teaching profession, everything you do is relational: colleagues, students, parents… this is the binding skill in education. If you don’t have authentic relationship with children, they won’t learn. They don’t learn from people they don’t trust.”

Meanwhile, doctors were keen to transform working, working relationships, the workplace or work recipients through gospel renewal. One doctor described it as going, “Beyond the spiritual, by applying faith to the work.” Another said, “The [Christian story] is at the centre of transforming us and then flows through to everything.”

In the values category, there were two choices that were very close. Intimacy with God as the basis for relationship with others and the world was slightly preferred as the number one variable by doctors over teachers. As one doctor said, “Without this, other things will not follow. This is the key, otherwise faith can be just theoretical.”

A close second overall was godly (good) character. As one teacher explained: “Part of good character is recognising that you want to do your best, and to use your talents for what you are called for. Kids observe character. As Christians we can preach and teach, but if we lack good character, they will see us as hypocrites. Faith should be transformative of character.”

What was surprising from the research was that the workplace was credited by interviewees as the place that had most shaped their faith, not church, not a spiritual retreat. These findings challenge prevailing thought and current practice about how religious people grow in faith—not just being equipped to make faith—work connections but seeing the workplace as an incubator for faith.

Kara Martin is the author of Workship: How to Use your Work to Worship God, and Workship 2: How to Flourish at Work and co-editor of Transforming Vocation: Connecting Theology, Church, and the Workplace for a Flourishing World. She is a lecturer with Alphacrucis College and Adjunct Professor with Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, Boston. She is also on the Advisory Board for the Global Lausanne Movement Workplace Ministry and on the Board of the Karam Fellowship.

Feature photo by ThisisEngineering RAEng on Unsplash

Logia Profile for July: Falling into a Calling

by Rev Prof Jacqueline Grey

Growing up in a charismatic Uniting church in western Sydney, Australia, the only women I noticed who were active in professional ministry were missionaries. Sensing a call to God’s work, I subsequently (wrongly) assumed that missionary service was the only real avenue for women to be ministers. Yet, when reading the Bible, I encountered Spirit-empowered women in all kinds of roles and situations. Resolutely, I began to prepare for missionary vocation by enrolling in an undergraduate degree in linguistics at Sydney University. During my undergraduate years (1991-4), I became engaged in student ministry and moved into a pentecostal fellowship. I delighted in encouraging fellow students in their faith. I continued in university ministry for several years following graduation as the Campus Director for Students for Christ and AOG Chaplain at Sydney University (1995-8).

This involvement in university ministry reinforced my sense of calling and desire to help others navigate their own faith journey. I decided that if I was serious about this ministry business then I needed to attend bible college. So, I did. My intent was to quickly complete my studies then move overseas to finally begin “real” ministry work. Instead, as the world of the bible opened to me, I discovered a great passion for reading and interpreting the Old Testament/Hebrew Bible. I also discovered unknown doors of opportunity for women in the world of theological education. In 2002, I became the first female faculty member of Alphacrucis College (the Assemblies of God college in Australia) and one of the first faculty members to complete doctoral studies (2006). My doctoral thesis explored “pentecostal hermeneutics” of the Old Testament/ Hebrew Bible using Isaiah as a case study. That is, I wanted to understand how everyday pentecostal and charismatic readers interpreted the bible in practise, not just theory. Fifteen years later, I am still serving in the same college. I have functioned in numerous roles during this time, including a part-time position while I fulfilled my desire to minister overseas in Izmir, Turkey (2015-8). Currently, I serve as Dean of Theology and Professor of Biblical Studies at Alphacrucis College, and also Research Fellow at the University of South Africa and the Centre for Pentecostal Theology.

This narrative of my personal journey into theological education is what pentecostals mostly call “testimony.” Sharing stories of God at work in our everyday lives is central to the identity and spirituality of the pentecostal community. As we “testify” we make sense of our experience by weaving it into the larger narrative of God’s redemption.[i] As I reflect on my own testimony, it seems that my stumbling into academia was accidental—as though I fell into this calling. I had not planned a career in academia. I am the only person in my wider family to complete post-graduate studies—I didn’t even know what a career in academia looked like! Yet, as I look back over my life so far, I see both God’s grace and guidance. For this, I am extremely thankful.

My location as both a member of the pentecostal community and researcher in pentecostal theology has been challenging. Pentecostalism has been wildly misunderstood and sometimes treated with suspicion by the wider academic community. Yet, it has also been the impetus for much renewed interest in theological matters such as pneumatology and ecclesiology. This accords with the origins of pentecostalism as a reform movement within Christianity. Today, pentecostals are the fastest growing segment of global Christianity. In 2020 Pentecostal/Charismatics make up over one quarter of all Christians. By 2050, this is expected to grow to 29.4 percent.[ii] Due to this growth, there is increased interest in the pentecostal community. One of my goals is to communicate the theological emphases of pentecostalism for Christian and wider communities and help locate it within ecumenical discussion. In this sense, my research and interests have a public function. Therefore, much of my research to date has been focused on understanding pentecostalism from academics (Three’s A Crowd: Pentecostalism, Hermeneutics and the Old Testament (2011)) to a popular audience (Them, Us & Me: How the Bible Speaks Today (2008), as well as co-edited volumes (Raising Women Leaders (2009), Pentecostalism in the Asia-Pacific (2019), Key Approaches to Biblical Ethics (2021)), and almost 40 peer-reviewed journal articles and book chapters (see here for a list of those publications).  

My current research continues to explore the intersections of pentecostal hermeneutics, ethics, pneumatology, and experience. These interests have led to engagement with academic communities within pentecostalism as well as with other ecumenical and inter-religious gatherings. In terms of the pentecostal academic community, I have benefitted greatly from my participation in the Society for Pentecostal Studies, including election to President of the Society in 2017. Within this group I have found deep friendships and encouragement. I have also found rich camaraderie among other academic societies, such as the Society of Biblical Literature, where I am co-chair of the Biblical Ethics section.

Like most academics navigating the world of theological education, I juggle teaching, supervision of research and doctoral students, academic administration, community engagement, and my own research. There are numerous research and scholarship projects in which I am currently absorbed, including: co-writing a textbook (Introduction to Biblical Interpretation (Baker Academic)); writing a commentary on Isaiah 1-39 as part of the Pentecostal Commentary Series (Brill); and editor of the peer-reviewed journal, Australasian Pentecostal Studies.

My encouragement to other women and men pursuing a career in academia is to treasure the friendships along the way. My life has been enriched by the friends, colleagues, and acquaintances in my life, even those that were only for a season. Many of these friendships have grown out of small interactions and chance meetings. Most have come from attending gatherings and conferences. Such in-person attendance is, of course, highly problematic now and guaranteed to look different in the future. However, even some online interactions can plant the seed of a burgeoning relationship. If, like me, you are quite shy then my advice is to be brave and show up. Then, keep showing up. Slowly you get to know people, slowly you begin to feel like you belong, and slowly you do belong. Then you will have your own testimony to share of finding a home in the world of theological education.

[i] James K. A. Smith, Thinking in Tongues: Pentecostal Contributions to Christian Philosophy (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2010) 51.

[ii] Johnson, Todd M., “Counting Pentecostals Worldwide”, in: Brill’s Encyclopedia of Global Pentecostalism Online, Edited by: Michael Wilkinson, Connie Au, Jörg Haustein, Todd M. Johnson. Consulted online on 14 June 2021 <>

Rev Prof Jacqueline Grey is Dean of Theology at Alphacrucis College, and Research Fellow at the University of South Africa, and Centre for Pentecostal Studies (Cleveland, Tennessee USA).



Ko Ruapehu te maunga

Ko Whanganui te awa

Nō England, Ireland, Germany, Denmark, Netherlands ōku tūpuna

Ko Alwyn Poole rāua ko Karen van Gemerden ōku mātua

Ko Jaimee van Gemerden tōku ingoa

I have introduced myself here in the tradition of pepeha which is a way of situating our identity in history and in the whenua (land). As a pākehā (non-Māori New Zealander) my identity in Aotearoa is bound to the promise of Te Tiriti o Waitangi and the relationship to Māori that this agreement builds. As my research, and this piece of writing, is undertaken in the land of Aotearoa I use pepeha to honour the traditions I live within and to illustrate my own relationship to them.

I am a PhD student at Otago University and working at Carey Baptist College as adjunct faculty. Alongside this, I co-edit a platform called Metanoia ( which engages in issues of contemporary life and Christian faith in Aotearoa New Zealand.

To answer the question of what I am researching and why is on one level quite simple. I am in the very early stages of a PhD in ontological freedom, reading particularly around the existentialist philosophies of Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre, and hopefully considering these ideas of freedom in light of the theological tradition. I am doing this simply, as I recently told a friend when asked why someone would undertake such a project, because I love it.

To begin to explain, on a complex level, why I am researching is in many ways profoundly difficult. Under the surface of the specific questions that my research addresses there are more general, and impossibly large, questions which I hope I can begin to find answers for. Primarily, these explorations are guided by a teleological itch which has haunted me for some time now. Albert Camus, in The Myth of Sisyphus, claims that the fundamental question of philosophy is “judging whether life is or is not worth living.”[1] To establish an answer to this question of purpose is to be able to begin to ascertain the way in which life is intended to be lived. For some, these may seem like questions with obvious or simple answers, however I would contend that they are the questions that are the most troubling and foundational to Western society today. In the same essay Camus asserts that “in a universe suddenly divested of illusions and lights, man feels an alien, a stranger.”[2] To live without a sense of intelligible meaning in life is to live in an experience of absurdity, to feel oneself as an outsider in the universe. I do not think that this is an uncommon experience in the modern world where busy-ness and consumption seem to have filled individual’s lives to the extent that they no longer need experience this feeling of alienation. While I am certainly aware of the enormity of the task of answering teleological questions, the belief that these questions are worthwhile is a significant driving force behind the type of research which I am invested in.

Aside from this being the reason why I am researching in my particular area, there are significant contributing factors to my desire to pursue higher education and a career in academia. My desire to be a theologian is driven by a love for the Church and a passion to serve my local community through educating pastors and other Christians about the fundamentals of their faith. I think that there is better news than the obligation and fear-based faith that seems to be proliferate many Christian circles; particularly among my generation and those younger on social media. When I began studying theology I was immediately struck by the disconnect that seems to exist between what theologians and theological institutes say about Christian faith and what I had been taught in the church growing up. My hope is for theological study to again be valued by more public Christian voices, with the intention that this will further strengthen the Church’s response to key issues facing the world today.

A secondary driving force between my desire to be a theologian is my hope to be the person that I wish I had seen growing up. As a teenager in the church I had big theological questions but I never saw anyone like me pursuing intellectual responses to faith. The female role models in my faith community were pastor’s wives and women’s ministry coordinators (not roles that I would wish to undervalue however not the only roles that women should be seen in). In my master’s research last year I came across Valerie Saiving’s seminal (or perhaps ovarial?) article “The Human Situation: A Feminine View” from 1960 which begins “I am a student of theology; I am also a woman.”[3] I was immediately struck by how ground-breaking it still feels to be writing those words 60 years after Saiving penned them. While there are certainly far more female theologians now than there were in 1960, there is still much progress to be made and I am deeply grateful to Logia for the work that they do in ensuring that women’s voices are valued and heard, and that the barriers to women in higher theological education are being challenged. I hope that in 60 years Saiving’s words will be a reminder of another time and not a relatable sentence that I might type myself.

For me, studying theology is a joy, a privilege, and a daily challenge. A challenge to create a better Church for my peers and future generations. But a joy and a privilege to be able to serve the Church in this incredibly significant capacity.

[1] Albert Camus, The Myth of Sisyphus, trans. Justin O’Brien (London: Hamish Hamilton, 1955), 11.

[2] Camus, The Myth of Sisyphus, 13.

[3] Valerie Saiving, “The Human Situation: A Feminine View,” Journal of Religion 40 (1960): 100.

Jaimee van Gemerden is a pākehā academic in Aotearoa. She is currently pursuing a PhD through Otago University and is engaged in teaching at Carey Baptist College.

Feature Photo by Aneta Foubíková on Unsplash


Stanley Grenz, Baptist and evangelical theologian, said of himself:

I am imbued with a commitment both to warm-heartedness and right-headedness. I am, in short, a pietist with a Ph.D. And this, I would add, marks me as an evangelical.[1]

I resonate with this formulation of Evangelicalism, so it perhaps not surprising that I am engaged in research on Stanley Grenz. Like Grenz, I’m an ordained minister. I own the same theological identities as Grenz, Baptist and evangelical. I am currently completing my PhD studies, looking at Stanley Grenz and how his theological project for Evangelicalism could function as a response to the current and ongoing tensions within Evangelicalism.

As an Australian woman who has combined ministry with motherhood, my career trajectory looks in other ways quite different from that of Grenz. His was marked by fast and steady academic progression, and a prolific publishing history. My own has meandered, shaped by the female exigencies of family load and reduced opportunities. Now in middle age, that meandering path has wandered, though perhaps led by the Holy Spirit, into theological academic publishing and a public profile as an Evangelical woman.

Originally an editor, I then trained in theology and ministry, and became a pastor. I spent 17 years in the pastorate, also doing some adjunct lecturing at Morling College in Sydney. Looking for a break from pastoring, I took a job working for the Australian College of Theology (ACT), an evangelical theological consortium in Australia. I am Publishing Manager there, as well as the editor of peer-reviewed journal Colloquium: The Australian and New Zealand Theological Review.

My many intersecting roles have led to two main directions within my research and ministry.

The first is that I seek to be a voice for women within Evangelicalism and the theological academy in Australia.  I collaborated on research on women within the evangelical academy in Australia, along with Jill Firth (on the Logia board) as well as Kara Martin and Moyra Dale (published in this book). This work has sparked a much-needed conversation about women in the theological academy in Australia.

The second is that I seek to be a restorative voice within Evangelicalism.  My research on evangelical tensions and my own practice within the evangelical community inform and enhance each other. I co-host a podcast with another evangelical minister, Rev Dr Michael Jensen, who has several key differences from myself. Our podcast With All Due Respect seeks to have serious conversations that engage with theology and culture, acknowledging and exploring both difference and commonality. This has itself given birth to a wider project, The WADR Project, which seeks to help people live with grace in a conflicted church & world. As part of that, we run a Facebook community group comprised of Christians from across the theological spectrum and some people of no or different faith who have sympathy with our aims.

This broadening out from the Evangelical community is mirrored within my work role in which I interact with the greater breadth of Australian Christianity as I edit the journal of ANZATS, the Australian and New Zealand Association of Theological Schools. I am heartened by this opening out of the circle, reminded of Grenz’s concept of Evangelicalism as a renewal movement for the sake of the whole church.[2]

My research and practice, therefore, are about contributing to an evangelicalism which is, like  the gospel itself is meant to be, warm-hearted, right-headed, and helping-handed. This is an urgent task in a world where Evangelicalism is too often a source of darkness rather than light. In continuation with the trajectory of Evangelicalism, I seek to find a way forward which finds those tensions within the movement as fruitful for ongoing faithfulness. Rather than collapsing those tensions, becoming unbalanced and sectarian.

Of course, I do this within my own Australian context, which has its own shapes and challenges. Thus, I hope first to be part of the development of my own context, and that this in turn may contribute to the richly diverse wider movement.

I was born and bred within Sydney Evangelicalism. Piggin and Linder in their volume on recent Australian Evangelical history name two Sydney denominations as the most influential within Australian Protestantism: Hillsong and the Sydney Anglican Diocese.[3] One of the factors noted by Piggin and Linder is the significance of family dynasties within Australian Evangelicalism. It is with wry resignation that I will admit myself and my WADR project partner are both the scions of such dynasties, Baptist and Anglican respectively. We have been formed within the tensions of our own context. We have seen the damage done by diversion into sectarianism. We have also witnessed the great good of evangelical cooperation, Billy Graham crusades within our memories. We choose to be reflective participants, seeking to transform from within rather than to be carried along in the stream.

This is my conclusion as I have tried to understand the contours of my own vocation. Much of it is outside my control. I am born (both physically and, I believe, spiritually) into a community and find myself in contexts shaped by others. Yet as I do so, I can choose to find my own particular calling in nurturing those communities and contexts into the way of Christ.

[1] Stanley J. Grenz, “Concerns of a Pietist with a Ph.D,” in American Academy of Religion (Toronto, ON2002).

[2] “Die Begrenzte Gemeinschaft (“the Boundaried People”) and the Character of Evangelical Theology,” JETS 45, no. 2 (2002).

[3] Stuart Piggin and Robert D Linder, Attending to the National Soul : Evangelical Christians in Australian History, 1914-2014 (Monash University Publishing, 2020), 24.


Grenz, Stanley J. “Concerns of a Pietist with a Ph.D.” In American Academy of Religion. Toronto, ON, 2002.

———. “Die Begrenzte Gemeinschaft (“the Boundaried People”) and the Character of Evangelical Theology.” JETS 45, no. 2 (2002): 301–16.

Piggin, Stuart, and Robert D Linder. Attending to the National Soul : Evangelical Christians in Australian History, 1914-2014. [in English]: Monash University Publishing, 2020.

Megan is Publishing Manager of the Australian College of Theology, and editor of the academic journal Colloquium: The Australian and New Zealand Theological Review. She is also an ordained Baptist minister in the Baptist Churches of NSW and the ACT.

Photo by Sunyu on Unsplash