Managing Theological Diversity: A Survey of Clergy Preparedness

Penrose TrinityThe Paradoxy Center for Incarnational Christianity and The Public Conversations Project are seeking the help of newly ordained clergy, congregational leaders, and diocesan deployment authorities in assessing the extent of an emerging educational need for aspiring and recently ordained clergy: How to deal with congregational conflict arising from theological differences. 

In the course of our work at The Paradoxy Center and The Public Conversations Project, we are regularly called upon to help church leadership manage divisions arising from theological differences. And we have noted that in many cases, if parish leaders had known how to recognize, prevent and transform emerging conflict, and how to harness theological differences as congregational strengths, these differences might not have become divisive.

If we are correct, and the need is a deep and broad as we suspect, our two organizations plan to work together to create and deliver learning experiences that will help aspiring and recently ordained clergy deal more effectively with theological diversity.

If you share our interest in determining the need for education and training in managing theological differences and transforming emerging conflict into healthy diversity, please take a few minutes to complete one of the online surveys below, selecting the survey option that best matches your role in the Episcopal community:

And please feel free to report this announcement on your own website or blog, or forward it to potentially interested colleagues.

Thank you!


4 thoughts on “Managing Theological Diversity: A Survey of Clergy Preparedness

  1. love the article….however my hermeneutical analysis would lead me to believe that the use of incomprehensible technical theological language is part of the problem it is trying to solve.
    Can I note: The Paradoxy Center for Incarnational Christianity ….as I understand it “paradoxy” is not a word!
    Survey of Clergy Deployment Authorities….I come from a church which has traditionally talked of “vocation” ….deployment is a weak and, I would suggest, unscriptural word…where is ‘inspired’ or ‘anointed’?
    and as for “Clergy Hiring Authorities”…since when were clergy ‘hired’. It is not part of the Anglican tradition, and I don’t see it in the New Testament…and I don’t think Corinth, Ephesus, or Thessalonika ‘hired’ St Paul

    I am (I think) a conservative radical…who longs to get rid of the nonsense that is the tyranny of not listening to the God who speaks about being attentive and meaningful to the only world we have…the one that exists in the 21st century.
    So basically….cut the crap!

    • Dear Stephen,

      I am sympathetic to your criticism of the terms “deployment” and “hiring,” and generally use of the terms “vocation” and “calling” when I have time to explain them (as applying to everyone, not just clergy). However, in this case, because the survey is going to multiple denominations and because it includes those called as school chaplains (who’s supervisors usually do think of them as hired), we decided to use plain English terms.

      As to you deeper criticism, permit me to respond with a small amount of “cheekiness” by noting that your criticism itself is an example of paradoxy, in that you are both correct in your surface analysis but miss the mark when it comes to the heart of the matter.

      For example, you are correct in saying that Paradoxy is not a word, at least not in common English usage. In one sense, it is a made up word, in that I use it in my book “Paradoxy: Creating Christian Community Beyond Us and Them” to describe a radical middle way of thinking about orthodoxy, which transcends the seemingly opposing connotations attached to it by conservative and liberal Christians. Yet it is an existing English word (see Merriam-Webster Dictionary) and a Biblical one, as well, from the Greek word paradoxos (see NAS New Testament Greek Lexicon). It is taken from the people’s response to Jesus’ pronouncing himself the Son of Man and claiming and demonstrating the power to both forgive and heal:

      They were all taken–beside themselves [Grk. elaben]with ecstasy–fear–wonderment [Grk. ekstasi]and began praising–honoring–glorifying–worshiping God [Grk. edoxazon]; and they were burning–filled to bursting–overflowing [Grk. epaysthaysan] with fear–terror–overwhelming awe [Grk. phobou], saying, “We have witnessed–perceived–experienced [Grk. eidomen] things beyond human understanding [Grk. paradoxa] today.” (Luke 5:26)

      The point of Paradoxy (the book and the term) is that both the conservative and liberal paradigms of orthodoxy are incomplete, unbiblical, and ultimately unworkable. The conservative Christian paradigm of orthodoxy, grounded in assent to presumably objective doctrinal propositions, tends to treat as irrelevant the ethical teachings of Jesus. The liberal Christian paradigm of orthodoxy (i.e., orthopraxy), grounded in the practice of the presumably universal ethical teachings of Jesus, tends to treat as irrelevant doctrinal considerations.

      Meanwhile, neither the conservative or liberal paradigms of orthodoxy reflect its original and literal Biblical meaning: “a fitting response of praise.” This is of critical importance, I think, because both of these paradigms place the locus of control of orthodoxy within control of the individual – to give cognitive ascent to doctrinal propositions or behavioral ascent to ethical practices – either of which remove grace from the equation. Only bringing forward to the present a more literal understanding of orthodoxy gives me hope.

      I share your longing to call people to be attentive to what God is trying to communicate with us here and now in the twentieth century. And a large part of me would prefer to do plainly, without made-up words. Unfortunately, many people are so stuck in conceptual boxes of their own making, that direct approaches result in resistance. In such cases, made-up words, playful parables, and paradoxical propositions may be the only way to get through.

      If you will pardon my rephrasing your metaphor, I prefer to think of it not a crap which must be cut, but fertilizer which may help new ideas to sprout and break through the pavement.

      Meanwhile, I would be happy to send you a free review copy of the book, so you can get a clearer and more detailed understanding of what I am proposing.

      In Christ’s love,

  2. Pingback: Managing Theological Diversity: A Response to a Comment | Paradoxical Thoughts

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