A blog by Steve Holmes, a Baptist minister, presently employed to teach theology in St Mary’s College, St Andrews, Scotland.

This is a place where I record ideas that seem interesting enough to share, but are so minor, so undeveloped, or so exploratory, that they do not belong in any more formal published format. Comments to help me develop the worthwhile ideas and discard the others are most welcome.

The blog is mostly theology; in a post a while back, I offered my understanding of the vocation of the theologian, which perhaps explains what this blog is about as well as anything I have written:

I think a good theologian prays well, first. No theologian who doesn’t has even begun to understand the discipline. And then s/he serves the Church, and his or her particular part of it (down to a local congregation) in humility and faithfulness. Theology belongs to the Church; any theologian divorced from the Church is a bad theologian, however brilliant or knowledgeable. A good theologian has a grasp of gospel values, and would swap everything s/he has written to see one sinner repent, or one broken life healed. A good theologian writes and speaks only to help the Church be more faithful to the gospel, bringing whatever knowledge of the tradition, whatever insight into contemporary modes of thought, and whatever native cleverness s/he may possess, all into service of this one end. A good theologian is marked by humility and cheerfulness, knowing how far short of the mystery of God and God’s works his/her best efforts fall, and knowing that in the good grace of God something of lasting worth may still come from them. A good theologian, finally, does know something, and has some capacity of thought, and so can make a contribution through his/her God-given vocation.

I am not a very good theologian.

20 Responses “About” →

  1. tim foley

    January 3, 2008

    Ar nAthair, ata ar neamh, Go naofar d’ainm. Go dtagaidh do riocht. Go ndeantar do thoil ar an talamh, mar dheantar ar neamh.Ar naran laethuil tabhair duinn inniu,agus maith duinn ar bhfiacha,
    mar mhaithimid dar bhfeichiunaithe fein.Agus na lig sinn i gcathu, ach saor sinn o olc.



  2. Steve H

    January 3, 2008

    ‘For the kingdom, the power and the glory are yours for ever and ever, Amen.’ Or am I way off?

    Good to hear from you, Tim.


  3. tim foley

    January 5, 2008

    What? A Baptist theologian who knows Irish? I have tried to email you from time to time over the years but likely have the wrong address. Can you gove me one that works? By the way it is wonderful to see how your vocation has developed.

    a chara



  4. Steve H

    January 7, 2008

    Hi Tim,

    No Irish, just a necessary academic skill of picking the meaning out of something with the aid of a dictionary!

    sh80 [at] st-andrews.ac.uk works normally–it stuttered a bit in autumn due to a dying computer, so if you tried then, accept my apologies!


  5. K.Porter

    July 16, 2009

    Hey Steve, It’s KP here from our Cambridge days. Just seen lots of old friends in Cambridge and it made me think of you and Heather. Would love to be back in touch. Email us if you get a chance. We’re in West Australia now, still with OM, LLoyd is doing his Masters too. Email and we’ll tell you all about it. Love to you all KP XXXX

  6. Dear Steve,
    I am glad to have discovered your blog. I will put a link to it on mine. I had the pleasure to listen a number of times to your contributions in the research seminars at King’s College London, where the late Colin Gunton gave me permission to participate, and even read a paper once, during my doctoral studies at London School of Theology. He was supposed to be the external examiner for my thesis, in 2004, but, unfortunately, for all of us, left us behind for a better world, being replaced by Dr Andrew Walker. He will ever be for me a bright example of a good and humble theologian.


    • Steve H

      August 26, 2010

      Welcome, Danut. I’ve been enjoying your posts and links on Facebook for some while now.

  7. Please can I quote you on my site? This quote on being a theologian is great!


    • Quote away – I take it that anything on the web is published, and so quotable with proper reference. Thanks, though, for your kind words.


  8. Maria Shattock

    May 25, 2011

    I am really enjoying your comments on Bell, so very lucid and helpful. Just one comment. It is The Waste Land, not The Wasteland. Makes a big difference to the meaning of the poem. Hope you don’t mind my comment, most people make the same mistake.


    • Steve H

      May 25, 2011

      Thanks for stopping by, Maria. You know, I read that article in the Guardian too, and thought I’d got it right… (still, it seemed to suggest that Elliot made the same mistake himself, once!)


  9. Russell Braund

    January 18, 2012

    Dear Steve,

    Having been directed to your blog about women and authority by Debra Reid, I have found it most helpful and have never realised that those in my church who are objecting to women preaching or being elders, are accepting their authority as they speak and vote in a church meeting. As pastor I have been pragmatic and inconsistent concerning the role of women and need to clarify my thinking. I will ponder further what you have written, but any other suggestions on reading? My biggest struggle is being accused of not taking the Bible seriously or being liberal. When at my last church I was even accused of being an instrument of the devil because I supported a woman going forward for ministerial training.

    Russell Braund
    Horley Baptist Church

    • Russell, welcome, and thanks for stopping by.

      You’re not the first to ask me this question. I’ll write a post listing some books today.



  10. judith H

    March 5, 2012

    Hello daddyxxx


  11. Philippa H

    March 5, 2012

    same as JJ said.

  12. Having come across your blog by chance today VIA a friends fb link I’ve been drawn in:) reading your reflection on what makes a good theologian I think I’m going to be a frequent visitor:-)

  13. Steve…I’m currently reading your “Listening to the Past” book and I’m wonding if you can point me in the direction of the best comprehensive book on the doctrine of the Trinity from a historical theological perspective. Thanks in advance. Email addy is Jen4short@gmail.com.


  14. apassionforthepossible

    January 17, 2013

    Dear Steve,
    Greetings from Donetsk Christian University. Thanks for your excellent blog. I appreciate the deep and thoughtful (yet accessible) reflections contained on this blog (particularly the posts on liberal theology and women in ministry) and I intend to stay tuned.
    Best wishes and blessings from a Baptist brother working in Eastern Ukraine,

1 Trackback For This Post
  1. The good theologian « a+cross

    […] makes a good theologian? Steve Holmes gives us something to think about: I think a good theologian prays well, first. No theologian who doesn’t has even […]

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