What's happening at Gladstone's Library
Gladstone’s Library is one of a kind – a residential meeting place dedicated to dialogue, debate and learning for open-minded individuals and groups who are looking to explore pressing questions as well as to pursue study and research in an age of distraction and easy solutions.
We have an evolving programme of courses and events that keep us connected with a wide range of writers and thinkers – see our programme brochure for full details.
This month we are featuring two courses that connect liberalism and Christianity.
We are delighted to welcome Robin Meyers to Gladstone's in March. Robin is from Oklahoma and is pastor of the Mayflower Congregational Church that likes to be described as “unapologetically Christian and unapologetically liberal.” He is the author of two important books that have been very influential in the USA – Saving Jesus from The Church – how to stop worshipping Christ and start following Jesus – and, more recently, The Underground Church – re-claiming the subversive way of Jesus.
Their titles give a good indication of their content. Meyers believes that bad theology and hypocritical behaviour by the church has eroded our spiritual lives. He is concerned by the Christian obsession with personal salvation. It is, he argues, about carrying on Jesus’s radical and subversive programme. That programme is a call for liberty and justice – it is about making the world a better place.
Robin is leading a course entitled The Community of Resistance. He is encouraging us to resist the idea that faith can be personally redemptive without being socially responsible. He will underline the need to resist supernatural definitions of God, the clergy ego, orthodoxy and the lure of the status quo. On Saturday 22 March, he is also giving a public lecture (included as part of the main course) entitled, The Once and Future Dissident Church.
In the USA 'liberalism is often seen as a synonym for ‘radical’ or ‘socialist’ and certainly it has a more political feel even when used in a religious setting than is true in the UK. Robin Meyers fits into that US tradition but in July we are going to widen the debate about Christian Liberalism. Our conference The Essence of Christian Liberalism is exploring whether liberal theology has a future, or whether it is a concept that has had its time. We are gathering a wonderful panel of speakers to join Gladstone’s Library Warden, Peter Francis, in exploring this subject and to see how we can re-present liberal theology for the 21st century. The panel includes: Garry Dorrien from the USA, probably the world’s leading authority on Christian Liberalism; and from the UK, Ian Bradley, Martyn Percy, Keith Ward, Michael Wheeler and Linda Woodhead. We hope this will be an inspiring course for many people.