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Thought Matters Conference pushes boundaries of salvation

Thought Matters Conference pushes boundaries of salvation

Thought Matters Conference pushes boundaries of salvation

7 November 2016

Rediscovering Salvation was the theme of this year's Thought Matters Conference, which was held in Melbourne in October.

By Anne Halliday

More than 80 Salvation Army academics, practitioners, officers and soldiers explored biblical, contextual and theological perspectives of “salvation” at the recent Tri-Territorial Thought Matters Conference in Melbourne.

The only conference of its kind in The Salvation Army world, the event drew speakers from Australia Eastern, Australia Southern, New Zealand, Fiji and Tonga, and Canada & Bermuda Territories, to explore the theme Rediscovering Salvation: New Creation and an Abundant Gospel.

The conference, which was held at Catherine Booth College from 14-16 October, was run by the Australasian Tri-Territorial Theological Forum (TTTF).

A delegation from the New Zealand, Fiji and Tongan Territory took part in the conference.

Participants listened and engaged with 14 papers, including presentations from Sydney-based officer Captain Emma Moore, Queensland Salvationist Matthew Seaman and Victoria’s Lieutenant Colin Reynolds, the Sunshine Corps Officer.

“The topic of salvation has an obvious interest for The Salvation Army but the conference was looking to present it in ways that perhaps haven’t been said before, to get people to think beyond the standard categories of thinking,” forum member Captain Stuart Glover said.

“It is important for people to engage with ideas because we can have a stated theology but until people engage with it and apply it, it’s really just words.”

“The Thought Matters Conference really seeks to create a safe place for people to explore their theology and faith. Just knowing the Salvation Army’s theology won't cut it in our daily lives, if we don’t understand it and can't explain it in ways that people outside our faith can appreciate. We have to explore how we can live out the concepts we talk about in church”.
 
“For example, Colin Reynold's paper was about how we might engage with someone of a Buddhist faith. So he looked at points of engagement, where the cross-over or points of connection were that would enable people to have genuine relationship with their Buddhist neighbours. To explore what salvation might mean for a Buddhist requires an understanding of the similarities as well as the differences, so that’s what was explored in the presentation.
 
“Emma Moore’s paper looked at how Generation Y struggles with the idea of sacrifice as a starting point for engaging with God’s offer of salvation. It was explored that if those categories aren’t initially useful, how can we connect and explore salvation with them in other ways?

“There were a number of papers like that that pushed the boundaries of our theology of salvation. We would want to create a forum where we can help officers and soldiers think theologically and apply that in the local context in which they find themselves living out their faith and serving in ministry.

“Theology is not just for academics. Everyone has a theology and has to work out their salvation and live it out.”

The next Thought Matters Conference will be held in New Zealand on 29 September-1 October, 2017. For the first time, the conference will run back to back with the Australian Centre for Wesleyan Research’s annual conference.

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