Always Reforming – lectures on the continuing impact of the Reformation

Winchester Cathedral and the University of Winchester have combined to arrange a series of lectures to celebrate the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. Here is a synopsis of each lecture and links so you can book your place at what will be a fascinating series.


6.00 for 6.30pm, 7 September, King Alfred Campus, University of Winchester

“The God who is transcendent in our midst” (Bonhoeffer): Divine and Creaturely Action according to the Reformation

Prof Tom Greggs

Is the church something that God does or something that humans do? What does it mean to speak of the church as the body of Christ? In what ways is the church an agent of salvation? This lecture will consider the Reformation’s central concern about the inter-action of God’s action and creaturely action. It will consider how Reformation theology understood the nature and action of the church as a divine and creaturely reality, and will draw particularly on Dietrich Bonhoeffer and the Reformation heritage from which he draws.

Tom Greggs holds the Marischal Chair of Divinity at the University of Aberdeen. He previously held a chair in Historical and Doctrinal Theology, and until 2011was Professor of Systematic Theology at the University of Chester. Tom’s principal publications include Theology against Religion: Constructive Dialogues with Bonhoeffer and Barth (T&T Clark, 2011) and Barth, Origen, and Universal Salvation: Restoring Particularity (OUP, 2009). Tom is the former Secretary of Society for the Study of Theology He is currently involved in a theological review of the Crown Nominations Commission as the only non-Anglican member.

This lecture is free of charge. To book your place, please register on Eventbrite


7pm, 18 SEPTEMBER, Wessex Centre, Inner Close, Winchester Cathedral

Renewal and Reform: Finding Common Ground on the Reformation after the Ecumenical Movement

Revd Dr Susan Durber

How have perspectives on the Reformation changed since our churches have grown closer and begun to listen to each other’s stories? Does the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification of 1999 change how we understand what happened in 1517? Are we breaking down the distance and the stereotypes that made this period so difficult for us to ‘read’ with care? Is Thomas Cromwell now redeemed by fiction, or history? How is it that Protestants can now go on pilgrimage and Catholics read the Bible is small groups? Does the Reformation need to divide us still, or can we find a common understanding? How is the ecumenical movement marking the anniversary of Luther’s protest? What, from this year of commemorations, might take us forward as the one, holy, catholic and apostolic church?

Susan Durber is a minister of the United Reformed Church, serving in Taunton, Somerset. She is the Moderator of the Faith and Order Commission of the World Council of Churches, which has as its mission to ‘serve the churches as they call one another to visible unity in one faith and in one Eucharistic fellowship’. She has served pastorates in Manchester, Salford and Oxford, been Principal of Westminster College in Cambridge and Theology Advisor to Christian Aid. She has published books on preaching, on theology and poverty, on the parables of Jesus, and collections of prayer.


7pm, 20 SEPTEMBER, Taylor Selwyn room, the Learning Centre, Inner Close, Winchester Cathedral

A Reforming Imagination: Conversation Points for Today

Dr Michael Jagessar

2017 is the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. Sixteenth century Europe witnessed political, intellectual, cultural and religious upheaval that reshaped Europe (and what followed), setting in place structures, beliefs and values/ethos that would not only define the continent in the modern era, but also its missional and ecclesial exports to the ‘ends of the earth’. There is much that the European reformers challenged, troubled, questioned and changed. There is also much that it re-inscribed, shut-down and marginalised in its own effort to manage confessional positions, geo-politics and various alliances. I am interested in the impulses around the reforming imagination, the complexities and compromises of/by its deployment then and over the years, and both the relevance and challenges of a reforming habit for today. Should a reformer be nailing some theses today: what would these be? I shall be speaking as a minority within a minority ecclesial tradition that is supposed to be both uniting and reforming.

Michael Jagessar brings plenty experience to subversion and out-of-the-box discourse. He happens to be a minister of the United Reformed Church (UK), adding colour to the leadership and helping to reshape its global and intercultural ministries. In his teaching he has dabbled in ecumenical theology, interfaith studies, black and contextual theologies at the Queens Ecumenical Theological Foundation (Birmingham, UK) from 2002 to 2008; Liturgy and Worship and Practical theology at the Cambridge Theological Federation (2010-2014). To make some sense of the above you need to visit his webpage for more on him and his writings ( Michael is currently involved in a new project of the Council for World Mission (CWM), the Discern and Radical Engagement (DARE) annual Global Forum which engages with a selection of topics and concerns that disturb mainline biblical and theological scholarships. Michael is Caribbean wanderer at large.


7pm, 25 SEPTEMBER, Wessex Centre, Inner Close, Winchester Cathedral

The Calling of Creatures like Us: Thinking with Reformation Traditions about what it Means to be Human

Prof Neil Messer

What does it mean to be a human being or live a human life? More particularly, what does it mean to live well as a human being? Are there particular ways of being human that fulfil what a human life is supposed to be about? Questions like these might not often be asked explicitly, but many areas of modern life – from the practice of health care to economics and politics – depend on answers to them, whether those answers are stated or just assumed. Focusing particularly on the practice and ethics of health care, this lecture will explore how the Reformation heritage, as expressed in theologians such as Karl Barth and Dietrich Bonhoeffer, can offer resources for thinking through these questions. It will thus offer a test-case of how a sixteenth-century theological movement can engage with the problems and questions of twenty-first century life.

Neil Messer is Professor of Theology at the University of Winchester, where his research and teaching are concerned in various ways with the interactions of theology, ethics, health care and the biosciences. His latest book is Theological Neuroethics: Christian Ethics Meets the Science of the Human Brain (Bloomsbury T&T Clark, Sept 2017). He is a minister of the United Reformed Church and a member of the Expert Group on Ethics of the Community of Protestant Churches in Europe (CPCE), for which he recently edited ‘Before I Formed You in the Womb…’ A Guide to the Ethics of Reproductive Medicine from the Council of the Community of Protestant Churches in Europe (CPCE, 2017).

7pm, 26 SEPTEMBER, Wessex Centre, Inner Close, Winchester Cathedral

Luther, Paul and the Radical Power of Grace

Prof John Barclay

Did the Reformation misunderstand Paul?  So many recent scholars have argued, claiming to rediscover the ‘original’ Paul.  Here Luther’s focus on Christ as the unmerited gift of God, with its radical consequences for the church, will be linked more positively to Paul’s mission theology, where the incongruity of grace – its mismatch with the worth of its recipients – helped found innovative communities where ethnic boundaries were crossed and social norms recalibrated.  There are therefore rich resources, in both Paul and Luther, for rethinking the radical power of grace in our contemporary cultural context.

John Barclay has been at Durham as Lightfoot Professor of Divinity since 2003, having previously been professor at the University of Glasgow. His most recent book, the first of a two-part series, is a study Pauline theology from the perspective of his theology of grace, called Paul and the Gift (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2015), which explores the theological and social significance of the incongruity of grace in the formation of innovative communities, going beyond E P Sanders and the current antithesis between old and new perspectives on Paul. A collection of essays on Pauline Christians and Diaspora Judaism called Pauline Churches and Diaspora Jews has been republished in paperback in 2016 by Eerdmans.


To cover costs, the lectures at the Wessex Centre are £5 each or £16 for the series.  Please contact 01962 857200, or book online.

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