Resident theologian will pop up in Faith Today

The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada, Faith Today‘s publisher, has just welcomed a new vice-president and  resident theologian to the leadership team.

David Guretzki will be deepening and extending the biblical and theological reflection the EFC already undertakes. Some of that reflection will show up in the pages of upcoming issues of Faith Today.

In fact, David will be reflecting on modern-day implications of the Reformation in the Sep/Oct issue. We thought you might enjoy hearing directly from him about what the role of resident theologian will entail. Here’s David:

Dr. David Guretzki is the new vice president and resident theologian of The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada.

I’ve always been impressed by the way The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada (EFC) has been able to bring biblical and theological perspectives to issues at hand.

Whether the EFC is intervening in a court case, facilitating a conversation on a ministry issue, doing research on the Canadian evangelical context, or developing a resource for leaders, Bruce Clemenger and his presidential predecessors have always sought to pay close attention to what the Bible says, to what our affiliate denominations and organizations are saying, and to what a range of evangelical (and other) biblical scholars, theologians, and other experts might be saying.

This attention has allowed the EFC to speak in such a way that it both represents, and at times, leads evangelicals on the issues facing us today.

When Bruce and the senior leadership of the EFC brought me on to staff as a “resident theologian,” it was less to fill a hole, and more to intentionally deepen and extend these practices of biblical and theological reflection in all that we do.

My background, training, and experience has been in ministry, advanced theological education, and academic scholarship, so you could say that I have been a “professional theologian” for most of my working life. And, because of my firm conviction that theology should be a servant to the mission of the Church, it seemed like a natural fit for me to join the EFC and to lead the organization even further in “doing” theology” well.

This is the first time the EFC has employed a resident theologian so the specific tasks I’ll be doing will emerge in weeks and months to come. However, I will be doing three basic kinds of work:

Ensuring Theological Consistency and Coherence
Most importantly, my job will be to help us as an organization to be sure we are being faithful to the teachings of the Bible and our own doctrinal statement. But the EFC is also a fellowship of denominations, schools, and ministry organizations which have self-identified as evangelical. This means that we need to be sensitive to the currents and conversations they are having so that we can speak with consistency and coherence with them as well.

I’ll be thinking of ways to better equip our staff to engage, speak, write, and represent us with biblical and theological integrity, and again, in a way that is theologically consistent with our affiliates and members. The big but exciting challenge for me will be to find ways of listening well to our affiliates and understanding the issues they are facing. I hope I’ll be able to help them understand what is going on more broadly in Canadian (and global) evangelicalism to better carry out their mission in their own contexts.

Theological Facilitation and Teaching
I am deeply committed to the principle that theology is the task of the whole Church, and not just individual theologians. A good theologian is not one who works in isolation from practicing Christian communities (the old “ivory tower” image) but one who works together with and on behalf of confessing Christian communities. Because the EFC is a fellowship of Evangelicals, I see part of my role as facilitating conversation between Church and organizational leaders to come to common conclusions where possible. I will also be available to serve our affiliate churches and organizations to speak and teach on theological issues they are facing.

I welcome churches and leaders to contact me about coming to spend time with them consulting, speaking or teaching. I have considerable experience working with pastors and church leaders in their own a context to teach either them or their congregations on a topic they’ve requested. I may or may not have expertise already in the issue, but I do have the training and gifting to come up to speed quickly on the issues. My hope is that I can help Christians understand the main biblical and theological issues they need to grapple with in their own ministries and communities.

Of course, I’m also available to brief churches and organizations on some of the major issues the EFC is working on, whether that be a legal or political issue out of Ottawa, or a theological or ethical issue facing the churches today.

Ongoing Theological Research and Writing
I’m grateful that Bruce Clemenger is a scholar himself and therefore understands that speaking and writing with theological and philosophical veracity requires time to read, reflect, and research on matters that may not always appear to be immediately relevant to issues at hand.

Thoughtful and faithful theological response needs time for spiritual and intellectual percolation and prayer. Here the President has mandated that at least part of my time as resident theologian includes trying to “keep up” with and contribute to broader theological scholarship. There will also be some limited opportunity to for me to teach in some of our affiliate seminaries upon invitation and as time permits.

Of course, I will also be writing articles, documents, or briefings on projects the EFC is working on. You can expect to see me contribute articles in our publications such as Faith Today and Canada Watch, or in the various resources we are constantly developing. My hope and prayer is that all that I do will be a resource to our affiliate pastors, leaders, and congregants.

David Guretzki, PhD, is the EFC’s new Vice President and Resident Theologian. You can reach him guretzkid@theefc.ca. Subscribe to Faith Today, Canada’s Christian magazine to tap into one of Canada’s best sources of Christian journalism. 

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