Speaker: Dr David Benson (BAppSci.HMS-Ed; MA-Theology; PhD-Practical Theology).
As a former high school teacher, youth worker and pastor, Dave is passionate about pluralistic dialogue and the public expression of Christian faith in a post-Christendom context, toward the flourishing of all.
Based in Brisbane, he lectures at Malyon College in the areas of evangelism, apologetics, worldviews, faith–work integration, and practical theology, as well as supporting Christian Heritage College’s Millis Institute for Liberal Arts, in the field of philosophy. Dave is also the director of Traverse (the Malyon centre for bridging church and culture), and co‑founder with his wife, Nikki, of the intentional Christian community, Christ’s Pieces. His 2016 Ph.D project, entitled ‘Schools, Scripture and Secularisation,’ considers the telos of competing curricular visions and the place of Sacred Texts in Secular Education.
Never before have Aussies spent so many years being ‘schooled’. So many opportunities to learn, and avenues to be equipped for a bright new future. And yet, what of the dark side to the knowledge project? Beyond the explicit curriculum of the scholar-academic, what do the hidden and null curriculum teach about what we as a society really value? How are we formed and deformed in our ascent to secure a view of the world from above? In this embodied narrative theological exploration, Dr. David Benson reflects on his schooling odyssey and nearly two decades invested in Higher Education. Learning looks radically different—both more luminous and ludicrous than we ever imagined—when set against the biblical story of Eden’s Tree, Babel’s Tower, and Pentecost’s living Temple.
Speaker: Sharne Winter-Simat
Sharne married cross-culturally 17 years ago and carries an enduring sense of home in both hemispheres. Along with her husband and two young children, Sharne divides her time between Minneapolis, USA and Brisbane, Australia. She is a writer and educator specializing in dance and mental/emotional health.
This personal story of a life lived across the seas is a journey of accepting the tension between two places of belonging. Are we able to Be truly present in one home even while we are Longing for another? And how does our theological framework support our sense of home for the long haul?
Question 1: Essentially why don’t we see people with mobility disability being healed regularly today?
- All the biblical material on mobility disability is a rich source of narrative material to encounter and reflect for anyone either disabled or living with a mobility disability as we have discovered in this presentation.
- Healing other people with mobility disability by Jesus and also healing in the name of Jesus is a significant aspect of this overall narrative and should not be swept under the carpet.
- Luke’s healing of “Three people with mobility disability stories,” in the Book of Acts suggests a universal potential for miraculous healing.
- Miraculous healing sits within the broad context of healing in general. Healing can include scientific insight leading to surgery and medication therapies, prevention strategies, and the utilisation of technology to support or replace the biomechanics of walking.
Our bodies are always active in their own healing through the mechanism of homeostasis however this doesn’t include the ability to grow another leg as it were.
- Since the International Year of Disability in 1981, we can identify an amazing progress at a social, environmental, political, technology and medical intervention levels for people living with mobility disability. These people are also increasingly empowered to take their place in the world with dignity to some extent this is a very late changed in the course of human history and in many ways is a miracle in itself.
- We have learnt to be cautious about claims for miraculous healing. There are charlatans, people who exaggerate, and magicians who also operate in this space. In addition, dispensational theologies, reformed theologies which are down played, the power of the Holy Spirit in transformation and healing in our lives and possibility a liberal reading of healing stories as myths etc. have all contributed to western sceptical pragmatism around healing.
- There are groups who seek to document on healing a physical disability.
- The Economist – 20th of April 2000
Miracles Under the Microscope
66 / 6,700 declared miracles by the Catholic Church
- Nucleus – July 1996
Healing Miracles of Jesus
- Grace To You – September 1991
Does God Still Heal?
- The Gospel Coalition
- The Economist – 20th of April 2000
- A theology of grace opens the potential for living well with disability. Helen Keller and many others are powerful witnesses to this outcome.
Speaker: Dr Paul Mercer
Paul Mercer is a suburban GP and practice principal in Brisbane. He is married to Katrina. They have three children, and six grandchildren. Paul is a member of the Theology on Tap Brisbane team. He has kept an eye on ‘matters theological’ throughout his adult life, having turned to Christ at five years of age. Paul is indebted to many mentors, teachers and people living with mobility disability (doctors and patients), for his medical knowledge and skillset. He will also introduce family members who live with mobility disability.
Medically, Paul has been a member and then the Chair of the RACGP’s National Preventive Community Medicine Committee. He has trained more than fifty-five junior registrars in general practice, as well as helping many more medical students in their exposure to general practice medicine. He has been an examiner for the RACGP fellowship exam for thirty years, and a member of the Doctors Health Advisory Service in Queensland for a similar time. Paul has been an active member of the Christian Medical and Dental Fellowship of Australia, has edited Luke’s Journal for the Fellowship for eleven years, and has served on an ethics working group. Paul has been a member of TEAR Australia Inc. for forty years and has served on the TEAR Board for eight years. He is currently the Chair of Health Serve Australia Board. Paul and Katrina are members of the Bayside Uniting Church, where Paul is an active lay-preacher.
In this presentation, Paul will develop a holistic theological narrative around mobility disability. He will share personal medical insights, highlight the medical literature and open the biblical narrative around mobility disability. The question, “What did Jesus mean by his claim: ‘The lame walk’?” will inform this presentation.
Speaker: Dave Andrews
Dave, his wife Ange, and their family, have lived and worked in intentional communities with marginalised groups of people in Australia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India and Nepal and for more than forty years.
Dave is particularly interested in intentional community and the dynamics of personal and social transformation. He is author of many books and articles, including Not Religion, But Love, Building A Better World’, Down Under – In-Depth Community Work, and Living Community (see http://www.daveandrews.com.au).
Dave and Ange and their friends started Aashiana, Sahara, Sharan and Sahasee — four well-known community organisations working with slum dwellers, sex workers, drug addicts, and people with HIV/AIDS in India; and they are currently a part of the Waiters Union, an inner city community network working alongside Aborigines, refugees and people with disabilities in Australia (see http://www.watersunion.org).
Dave is a founder of the Waiters Union, a lecturer in community work at CHC, a trainer for the Praxis Community Cooperative, and an elder emeritus for Servants to Asia’s Urban Poor.
At my best, I can decide to lock myself in an empty house, to fast and pray for a month, vowing not to come out until I have sorted through all my thoughts and all my feelings to make sure that my actions will be in alignment with God’s will for my life. But at my worst, I can emerge from my suburban hermitage a more intense, more intent, more focused, more committed, ‘self‑righteous bastard’ ready to rip into any unsuspecting people I encounter about their ‘inexcusable unrighteousness’. In this talk I’d like to share what I have learnt about the delights of ‘righteousness’ and the dangers of ‘self‑righteousness’.
Speaker: John Steward
John Steward gained his PhD from Adelaide University in 1972, after completing his undergraduate and honors degrees in Agriculture.
He then completed studies in Divinity (BD Hons) at the Melbourne College of Divinity.
In Indonesia from 1974 to 1978 John was a lecturer in theology, agriculture and community development in East Java; joining World Vision in Jakarta in 1979 to initiate a Leadership training program for village development motivators.
Then, for 13 years he facilitated adult learning processes for indigenous community workers from over 50 countries, while a manager with World Vision in Melbourne.
In 1997-8 he was involved in the post-genocide reconstruction in Rwanda. For the next 9 years he returned to Rwanda every six months to mentor Rwandese peace and development workers. He heard the stories of change and made many friends.
From 2009-2011 John was mentor in Australia of a project to develop Vanishing Point, an on-line peace and conflict curriculum for secondary students, using stories of Rwandans who have healed relations since 1994.
Since 2012 his focus was on writing and his book on healing and forgiveness after conflict, which was published by Langham Global in 2015. From Genocide to Generosity brings alive stories of healing and hope after trauma.
In Australia John is a spiritual director with the Living Well Centre in Malvern, and with Wellspring, Ashburton.
Before going to Rwanda I had believed in, preached about and lectured on forgiveness. I had also requested it and experienced it, and yet I never really understood it.
The offer of forgiveness always has a context and it was only in my encounters with Rwandans that clear light came. They are my mentors, especially the widows.