Theological Expeditions is a new, in-person seminar/reading group.
In the Anglican tradition, theology is more about wisdom-seeking than conceptual narrowing. Honoring insights both old and new, we will explore thought-provoking writings reflecting Catholic, Protestant, Orthodox, and other contexts. Whether you consider yourself a believer, a spiritual seeker, or just a confused mortal, your sincere interest and participation will be welcomed.
Keep scrolling to learn about Expedition One ("Mapping Frontiers in Theology").
Time and dates: Noon to 1pm each Sunday from September 10 through November 19, 2023.
Location: Trinity Episcopal Cathedral, 81 N. Second Street, San Jose, CA. We will meet in person in the Sunday School Room located in the Fellowship Hall. (Directions, parking, and public transportation info.)
Led by: Jim F. Alexander, Trinity Cathedral's lay theologian-in-residence.
Required reading: In Expedition One, we will read Quest for the Living God: Mapping Frontiers in the Theology of God by renowned Roman Catholic theologian Elizabeth A. Johnson. This book is a perfect starting point for our new group, as it deftly maps key issues and recent theological movements. Please complete the indicated reading before each session (around 20 pages each week). Each chapter of this book essentially stands alone, so if you must miss a week, you can easily pick back up the following week.
Getting the book: You can order the book, new or used, from various booksellers online, including here at Biblio.com (which supports independent booksellers) and here at Amazon. Please be sure to get the paperback version with the cover art shown on this webpage, so that we are all working from editions with the same pagination. Jim will bring a few used copies to the first meeting for those who need them.
Sept. 10: Embarking on a Theological Expedition
Introductions. The goals of Theological Expeditions. Group norms. Johnson's theological “ground rules for the journey.”
Required reading: None.
Sept. 17: The Modern “Winter” of Christianity
Religion in the post-Enlightenment era. The “Too-Small” God of modern theism. The scientific, political, and intellectual roots of secularism.
Required: Quest for the Living God ("Quest") pp. 1–17, 25–28.
Optional: Three-page handout of "A better response to the decline of the Christian West" by Mac Loftin; Quest pp. 17–23 (the "ground rules" we discussed on Sept. 10).
Sept. 24: “Gracious Mystery, Ever Greater, Ever Nearer”
The theology of Karl Rahner. Divine transcendence and immanence. “The Whither of Our Self-Transcendence.”
Required: Quest pp. 28–47.
Oct. 1: “The Crucified God of Compassion”
Theologies of suffering. The Shoah. Theodicy and its failures.
Required: Quest pp. 49–68.
Optional: Two-page handout titled “The Parable of the Apple Orchard."
Oct. 8: “Liberating God of Life”
Liberation theologies. Poverty and biblical justice.
Required: Quest pp. 70–88.
Oct. 15: “God Acting Womanish”
Feminist and womanist theologies. The figure of Holy Wisdom. Metaphorical profusion.
Required: Quest pp. 90–110.
Optional: Two-page handout from E. Johnson, She Who Is [174-175]
Oct. 22: “God Who Breaks Chains”
African American theologies. White privilege and racial justice. Spirituals.
Required: Quest pp. 113–131.
Optional: Three-page handout from James Cone, God of the Oppressed [211-213]
Oct. 29: “Accompanying God of Fiesta”
Latin American theologies. The piety of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
Required: Quest pp. 133–150.
Nov. 5: “Generous God of the Religions”
Christianity and religious pluralism. Approaches to interreligious dialogue.
Required: Quest pp. 153–179.
Optional: Two-page handout titled "The Volkswagen and the Honda."
Nov. 12: “Creator Spirit in the Evolving World”
Theologies of creation care. Panentheism. Evolution, chance, and divine agency.
Required: Quest pp. 181–198.
Nov. 19: “Trinity: The Living God of Love”
The development of trinitarian doctrine. Visions of the Trinity, ancient and modern. Expedition One wrap-up.
Required: Quest pp. 202–224 and one-page Trinity "cheat sheet" handout.
All readings apart from the Quest book will be provided. Optional readings may be added as the Expedition moves forward.