Feed your Mind
What is theology?
Theology is churches thinking about what they ought, in principle, to do.
One of our main aspirations at Manchester Cathedral is to help promote the most thoughtful theology.
A Cathedral, as the mother church of a diocese, has to relate to all sorts of very diverse local parish churches, communities, and interest groups. It serves as a centre for people originating from all around the world, with a very wide range of contrasting worldviews. We believe in trying to facilitate the most open and honest conversation possible between these different points of view; conversation conducted in an atmosphere of prayerfulness, and therefore with real mutual respect. One of the ways we do this is through the work of the Manchester Theological Society.
Frankly, the Church of England has not in the past been all that strong in theology. Unlike the other great churches of the Reformation, it was not in the first instance the creation of great systematic thinkers. Rather, what held it together was just its privileged role as the Church of the political establishment. Its members were united by their share in the privileges that went with that role.
Now, however, the situation has changed. For here is a Church that has largely lost its old privileges and its power, the one thing that used to unite it. And so it has become a rather bewildered Church. We who belong to it find ourselves, more and more, compelled to rethink our corporate identity. This is potentially a very creative situation. And more than ever before in its history, as a result, the Church of England has now started to be a community truly buzzing with fresh theological reflection.
One sign of this new seriousness about theology was the inauguration of the Michael Ramsey prize for theology in 2005: awarded every two years, under the auspices of the Archbishop of Canterbury, to an outstanding work of original thinking – it may be in any area of theology, by a member of any Church. Manchester Cathedral is keen to help promote the Michael Ramsey prize, and all that it represents. So every two years we invite the winner to a celebratory event: a Celebration of Theology, at which they deliver ‘a lecture wrapped in prayer’.