Graham Tomlin has a radical goal: to bring theology back to the heart of the church. You'd think it would already be there, but Tomlin, on the pastoral staff of Holy Trinity Brompton Anglican Church in London, believes the local church has neglected sound theological teaching for the past 200 years.
"It began when universities began to become secular in the 18th and 19th centuries," says Tomlin, also the principal of Holy Trinity's St. Paul's Theological Centre and the dean of St. Mellitus College, an Anglican theological school. "Theology was being taught apart from Christian life and separate from the churches, to the impoverishment of both. Seminaries started in reaction to that, to provide Christian alternatives to the secular university. Yet those remain one step removed from real local churches."
Holy Trinity is best known as the place where the Alpha Course—which teaches seekers the basics of the Christian faith—launched in the late 1970s and has since been used by over 13 million people worldwide. Tomlin, who has led several Alpha courses, says the class works "because it offers an unthreatening, lively context in which to hear more about Christianity, but crucially also the chance to disagree, debate, and tell stories. It also gives people a chance to experience the reality of God, which often cuts through some of the more sterile arguments."
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Many are looking for faith that's more than a badge that defines them, but also [they want] to integrate faith more into the rest of their lives—and that includes the mind. Thinking through faith, relating it to science, politics, work, relationships—all of that ...1