Schedule for CTS Annual Meeting

2017 schedule final 

Canadian Theological Society Annual Meeting

Congress 2017

Ryerson University

May 28 – May 30, 2017



Sunday, May 28
  SHE Sally Horsfall 662 SHE Sally Horsfall 664
12:00 p.m.


12:10 – 12:50 p.m. David Clark,

“Psalm 74 and November 1938:

Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Kristallnacht Annotation in Interpretive Context”

Graham Brown,

“Theology, Aboriginal Rights and Reconciliation”

12:50  – 2:10 p.m.



“Decolonial Theological Encounters: Los Saberes del Sur Global Confronting the Epistemology of the Global North”



“Marching as to War: Children and Battle Imagery in Healthcare”


2:10 – 2:30 p.m.


2:30 – 3:10 p.m. Connor Steele,

“Carter v Canada, Political Martyrology, and the Repudiation of His Dominion”


Jessie Hyejung Yum, Emmanuel College

“Church, A Rehumanizing Place of Hospitality: In Search of the Human Dignity of Migrant Workers”

3:10 – 3:50 Gordon Rixon, “Restraint and Resurgence: Accompanying Social Reconciliation in Canada”


Samantha Cavanaugh,

“Stranger Love: Critical-Mystical Encounters”


3:50 – 4:10 Break  
4:10– 4:50 p.m.


Joëlle Morgan,

“The Mountain to Climb is but a Symptom: Restorying Indigenous-Settler Relations”

Paul Heidebrecht,

“Wrestling with Innovation: How Can We Make Space(s) for the Spirit to Move?”


5:00 – 7:00 p.m. President’s Reception: Mattamy Athletic Centre, the historic Maple Leaf Gardens
7:00 p.m. Craigie Lecture (Sponsored by CSBS) Dr. Stanley Stowers,

“What was the Goal of Paul’s Religious Program?” Ted Rogers School of Management 1-149



Monday, May 29
Time SHE Sally Horsfall 662 SHE Sally Horsfalll 554
9:00 a.m. – 9:40 a.m.


Alison Hari-Singh

“Thinking Ecclesiologically about Two TRC Recommendations: Toward an Anglican Retrieval”


David Csinos,

“Transforming a Vision: Theologies of Children and the United Church’s Quest to Become Intercultural”


9:40 – 10:20


Don Phillips,

“A Canadian Christology?  Communicating Jesus Christ in 21st Century Canada”


Graham McDonough

“How do you teach it (In our day)? Confronting simplistic portrayals of Jews and Judaism in Catholic school curriculum”

10:20 -10:40 Break  
10:40 – 11:20


Steve Harris,

“Will I Be Canadian in the Resurrection? Nationality, Identity and Christian Eschatology”


Jean-Pierre Fortin

“Truth as Gift and Vocation: New Perspectives on Revelation”


11:20 – 12:00 p.m.


Stephen Martin, “The church and the reassertion of the political in post-apartheid South Africa” Don Schweitzer,

“A Role for People in Jesus’ Resurrection”


12:00 – 1:30 p.m. Lunch
1:30 –



Jay Newman Lecture

Dr. Karolina Hübner

Pantheism and thought in Spinoza’s Philosophy”

Sally Horsfall 662


3:00 –



Presidential Address: Jeremy Bergen

“How are we Canadian? Theological? A Society?  Reflections on CTS Presidential Addresses, 1990-2016”

Sally Horsfall 662

4:00 – 4:15                                                                                         Break
4:15 – 5:30



Sally Horsfall 662

6:30 p.m. CTS Banquet

Place: Astoria, 390 Danforth Ave.



Tuesday, May 30
  IMA Image Arts 307 TRSM 3-147
9:00 – 9:40


Engin Sezen

“Sohbet as a Sacred Learning Place”

Stan Chu Ilo,

“Teaching and Learning in a Multicultural Canada”


9:40 a.m. – 10:20 a.m.


Frank Emanuel and Robert Walker,

“A Better Welcome for LGBTQ+ Evangelicals”


Nathan Gibbard,

“The Possibility and Promise of a Catholic Theology of Adoption”


10:20 – 10:40 Break  
10:40 – 11:20


Shannon Wylie,

“Dialogue of Life and Death: Christian de Cherge? on Christian-Muslim Friendship”


Martha Downey,

“The Role of Theology: Superpower or Well-Kept Secret?”


11:20 – 12:00 p.m.


Robert Timmins,

“A Movement of Spirits: Exploring the Political- Theological Significance of the Annual Women’s March”


Mark Novak,

“‘Yes, yes’ with/out ‘No, no’: Understanding (apparent) Equivocation in Derrida”


12:00 –

1:30 p.m.

 Networking Lunch

Sally Horsfall 662

1:30 – 2:50 Panel:

“Our Voices are Needs in the Midst of Diversity”



“Women and Theology in Canada: the Past, the Present, and the Future”



2:50 p.m. Closing  

Papers and Panels



  1. David Clark, Wycliffe College. “Psalm 74 and November 1938: Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Kristallnacht Annotation in Interpretive Context”

In November 1938, following the eruption of anti-Jewish Nazi brutality known as Kristallnacht, Dietrich Bonhoeffer offered no public comment. Instead, in his personal Bible, Bonhoeffer made an annotation in the margin of the Psalms: he wrote the date of Kristallnacht, followed by an exclamation mark. The verse he marked, Psalm 74:8, reads: “They said in their hearts, let us plunder their goods! They burn all the houses of God in the land.” In the absence of more explicit responses by Bonhoeffer to the crimes of Kristallnacht, scholarship has devoted considerable attention to the meaning of his marginal annotation.

However, as I argue, while scholars have helpfully recognized possible political or historical implications of associating this psalm text with Kristallnacht, the discourse has yet to examine this annotation more thoroughly in the context of Bonhoeffer’s then-burgeoning commitment to figural interpretation of the Psalter. Accordingly, this paper will establish the context of Bonhoeffer’s figural engagement with the Psalms in this period, especially in Life Together (1938) and Prayerbook of the Bible (1940), in order to address the question: by connecting Psalm 74:8 with Kristallnacht, what theological claim might Bonhoeffer have been making about the events of November 1938? In his interpretive work during this period, Bonhoeffer discerned Christological presence amid contemporary events that echoed the psalms of suffering. As I will argue, this conviction suggests that Bonhoeffer’s association of Psalm 74 with Kristallnacht may have entailed not only a sense of historical correlation, but indeed a theological construal of the divine presence amid the Jewish victims of Kristallnacht.

I will situate this argument within the context of scholarship on Bonhoeffer’s Kristallnacht annotation, which includes discussions by Eberhard Bethge, Geffrey Kelly, Martin Rumscheidt, Jeremy Worthen, and Patrick D. Miller. More broadly, I will frame this argument within the discourse on Bonhoeffer’s interpretive approaches to the Old Testament, including work by Martin Kuske and Barry Harvey. Building on this scholarship, I hope to propose a reading of the Kristallnacht annotation that adequately coheres with Bonhoeffer’s interpretation of the Psalms during this period


  1. Graham Brown, St. Paul’s University College at the University of Waterloo.

 “Theology, Aboriginal Rights and Reconciliation.”

The TRC’s definition of reconciliation as the “[restoration of] respectful nation-to-nation relationships within a viable Canadian sovereignty” requires us to consider the normative approach to legal reconciliation because it asks us to interpret the meaning of Aboriginal “nation” and if, or to what extent, a “viable” Canadian sovereignty means being limited by Aboriginal sovereignty. Recently, some Canadian anthropologists, jurists and political philosophers (Asch, Macklem, and Tully, respectively) have argued versions of the “prior occupancy” principle as the morally correct approach to determining Aboriginal rights under the Constitution. Asch argues “temporal priority” of occupancy, Macklem argues “prior sovereignty” and Tully prior sui generis rights.  But establishing temporal priority, if it means first occupancy, is difficult and, even if established, is insufficient as a normative principle; it is unclear why a group should retain sovereignty merely because it has continuity over time as a group; and to say Aboriginal rights are unique is self-defeating for a fruitful conversation and debate by the relevant parties. I point out that all of these concerns are implications of the Indigenous and Settler theological teachings that land is entrusted from the Creator, not owned by human groups, and that sovereignty is not about continuity of a group that was once sovereign but about the justice of arrangements under current circumstances. This perspective is congruent with the normative principles of legal reconciliation found in the work of Jeremy Waldron, viz., the principles of “proximity” and “established order” and “supersession”. I explain what these imply for interpreting TRC-style reconciliation.


  1. Panel: Lee Cormie, Faculty of Theology, University of St. Michael’s College and Michel Andraos, Catholic Theological Union, Chicago, IL, Néstor Medina, Emmanuel College, Becca Whitlaw, Emmanuel College.

“Decolonial Theological Encounters: Los Saberes del Sur Global Confronting the Epistemology of the Global North”

We think that the new ‘decolonial’ wave of Latin American critical thinking is full of promise for the next generation of ‘liberation’–social and economic justice, gender justice, indigenous, anti-racist, LGBTQ, ecological, peace, intercultural and interfaith–movements and theologies. It is inspired by the great breakthroughs of earlier generations of activism and scholarship since the 1960s, with deepening awareness of roots / antecedents / precursors / parallels, especially in Latin American (Abya Yala), US, and Canadian (Turtle Island) indigenous worldviews, African-American and other cultural/civilizational traditions (e.g., diverse Islamic liberation theologies). At the same time, this perspective reflects growing awareness of the limits and deepening crises of established expressions of critical scholarship and activism, including earlier generations of ‘liberationist’ thinking.

This panel does not offer a study of Latin American decolonial thinkers per se. Rather, the panelists offer brief introductions to ongoing experiments with the modernity / coloniality framework in addressing specific aspects of doing theology and religious studies in Canada and US today in solidarity and dialogue with ‘others’ among us and around the world:

  • different experiences of indigenous peoples in different countries, and of Truth and Reconciliation Commissions and their aftermaths;
  • the challenges of the TRC in Canada to ‘mainstream’ churches, theologies, and modes of theological education;
  • the contradictory ways familiar religious practices like hymn-singing reflect in some instances the dynamics of colonization and in others the dynamics of resistance and hope for liberation;
  • the epistemological dead-ends of modernist Euro- Amero-centric modes of knowledge, including positivist ‘science’, their continuing power to distort critical discourses too, and new epistemological space for hope and faith in every struggle for ‘another world’.

Subsequent discussion will be open to all, eliciting participants’ questions, insights, criticisms, challenges concerning evolving ‘decolonial’ projects, and identifying possibilities for collaboration and next steps.


  1. Panel: Robyn Boeré, Regis College; Michael Buttrey, Regis College; Rebecca Sletten, Hospital for Sick Children. “Marching as to War: Children and Battle Imagery in Healthcare.”

In October 2016, The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto released the first advertisement in their new fundraising campaign. Titled “Anthem” and set to Donny Daydream’s “Undeniable,” the video presents a stirring montage of children donning face paint and combative outfits before they enter battlefields and boxing rings. The campaign garnered significant attention – and controversy: while many praised the message of empowerment, others were concerned about the implications for children with chronic and congenital diseases that are not easily cured, or conditions such as deafness and autism whose disease status is contested. Another common concern was the potential implication that children who die have been defeated, or even are losers. As Globe and Mail Health Columnist André Picard wrote, “After all, who doesn’t want to back a winner?” But to date, few have questioned the openly militant imagery used in the video, which places children on the front lines beside medieval knights and colonial soldiers, in the ring with boxers and wrestlers, and in the fantastical worlds of anime and superhero characters.

In our panel, we will develop a critique of battle imagery in healthcare and explore alternative models for understanding children and disease. In developing this critique, we will discuss the moral lives of children and potential conflicts in imagining children in warfare, even as a metaphor. We will consider whether fighting imagery in sports and superhero stories is significantly different than military metaphors. In order to accomplish this, we will consider the experiences of sick children and their ability to conceptualize and understand their lives and disease, drawing on available empirical research to consider the impact of this battle metaphor on the children. Finally, throughout our discussion we will draw on insights from theological discussions of war, pacifism, and martyrdom in the Christian tradition.

The view of children promoted by our hospitals, especially a hospital as influential as SickKids and other institutions in our publically funded healthcare system, is our collective responsibility, and these views help shape our moral imagination not only in health care but in our families and our society. Each of our presenters will take on a different methodological and theoretical aspect of our presentation. Our presenters include specialists in child health, Catholic moral theology, and moral issues surrounding children. Our panel will conclude with a series of ideas for further research and discussion that we hope will foster dialogue and engagement.


  1. Connor Steele. “Carter v Canada, Political Martyrology, and the Repudiation of His Dominion”

Building on the work of Stuart Chambers, Sarah Trick, John Van Hacking, Eric Voegelin, Gianni Vattimo and John Milbank, I shall trace the discursive shifts in the Canadian Supreme Court’s two post-Charter assisted dying cases — Rodriguez (1993) and Carter (2016) — in order to expose transformations in the Court’s political (a)theology. While both decisions recruit putatively secular language, the Rodriguez case utilizes two fundamental Christian tropes. Along with Stuart Chambers, I believe that the slippery-slope argument is invoked to simultaneously provide a nontheological justification for the sacredness of human life and construct persons with disabilities as vulnerable lambs. These potential sacrificial lambs, at risk of being killed on the altar of historical progress, require protection from the good shepherds of the Constitution. Ironically, however, martyrdom discourse takes a strange turn. Ms. Rodriguez becomes a Christlike victim of the state, who must sacrifice herself, by not receiving assistance with her death, so that others may live. In short, the Court still recognizes a week metaphysic beyond positive law, even if it attempts to harmonize heaven and earth in a (dis)avowedly Christian manner.

Conversely, Carter offers no such metaphysic. Consistent with Michel Foucault’s and John Milbank’s observations about the biopolitical character of contemporary social governance, the case was decided on the right to live for as long as one is able (protection from unnecessary early suicide, a choice those possessing full physical and or mental capacity do not have to make), with the ancillary issues being avoidance of inhumane emotional distress and pain. The decision does not rest on the right to die as such, nor does it place strict limitations on access to assisted dying. Analysis of this judicial discourse, therefore, is important for Christian theology as it looks towards the future, because we are increasingly faced with a utilitarian intellectual culture that immanentizes and absolutizes political sovereignty. At the same time, however, when carefully read, the Carter decision offers some salutary points of dialogical engagement for theologians. Persons with disabilities are not represented as victims, and the decision is suffused with compassion and humility. These virtues often disappear in ethical disagreements, especially as these debates interact with political theology and multicultural difference.


  1. Jessie Hyejung Yum, Emmanuel College, “Church, A Rehumanizing Place of Hospitality: In Search of the Human Dignity of Migrant Workers”

Many migrant workers, especially those with temporary legal status, or non-dominant race and non-native language speaking migrants, might live with their lost, weak and incomplete dignity in a newly arrived place. The visible difference from the dominant people such as their limited language skills, awkward social manners and temporary or undocumented status directly affects their working conditions, which often leads them to be exposed to a dehumanizing working place. They are easily exploited, abused and endangered in their workplace. They need

a concrete place to be accepted as fully human in order to recover their dignity in the newly

arrived society.

With this understanding, this paper will argue that with regard to the reality of migrant workers who are exposed to dehumanization in their workplace and whose rights to human dignity are also violated in Canada today, the church should be a place embodying practices that uphold dignity in them as created in the image of God through hospitality. To support this thesis, I will first delve into the dehumanizing environment of Canadian migrant workers in terms of

insecurity, objectification, and exploitation. Second, I will argue that the dignity of human beings in the image of God is embodied in a concrete place where creative relationships can be established. In this respect, objectification and exploitation harm human dignity through distorted relationships. Lastly, I will claim that the Church is the body of Jesus Christ who has initiated new creation that challenges the social exclusion of the vulnerable and the strangers and

built new relationships with them. Thus, the church should a concrete place, that is a society, that embodies the dignity of the people at the margin through hospitality, and join in the ongoing creation of God by resistance to unjust structures in solidarity with them.


  1. Gordon Rixon, Regis College. “Restraint and Resurgence: Accompanying Social Reconciliation in Canada”

In The Course of Recognition (2004), Paul Ricoeur locates the emergence of personal and cultural agency within a discussion of identity, self-recognition and mutual gift exchange. In Red Skin, White Masks: Rejecting the Colonial Politics of Recognition (2014), Glen Sean Coulthard identifies the ecological, social and political conditions for a resurgence of indigenous peoples and cultures. Coulthard rejects recognition theory as an implicit mediator of a colonizing worldview that un­dermines the autonomy of indigenous resurgence. In my paper, I propose to trace Coulthard’s engagement of recognition theory guided by the question: “What does a person of Christian faith have to learn from these authors in the development of a theology of accompaniment and the advancement of social reconciliation for the next 150 years in Canada.

In my discussion, I notice that Coulthard principally engages recognition theory through the pivotal exchange between Nancy Fraser and Axel Honneth in Redistribution or Recognition? A Political Philosophical Exchange (2003). I acknowledge Ricoeur’s subsequent appreciation of the strengths and limitations of Honneth’s approach to recognition theory; taking particular note of Ricoeur’s criticism of Honneth’s approach to social esteem and elucidation of the distinction be­tween market exchange and gift exchange. From this perspective, I pursue my faith focused ques­tion about how to receive and accompany aspirations for cultural resurgence. I conclude by re­locating my comments in the Canadian context with a brief discussion of the proposal for balanc­ing ju­dicial restraint and activism by Benjamin Berger in Law’s Religion: Religious Difference and the Claims of Constitutionalism (2015).


  1. Samantha Cavanaugh, Emmanuel College. “Stranger Love: Critical-Mystical Encounters”

In this paper, I explore Jesus’ Second Great Commandment (Mark 12:28-34). What does loving our neighbours as ourselves entail, if, as Cynthia Moe-Lobeda argues, our neighbours include all of those human and non-human lives with whom our own is bound up through the multiple ecological and social systems which hold our bodies in relation? If our neighbours include people and other-than-human creatures and life-systems who are strangers to us, what does this love look like, feel like, and motivate?

I construct a feminist theo-ethical vision of neighbour love as stranger love by centring on the affectual phenomenon of feeling love for strangers in urban public encounters. I explore the experience, both my own as well as that of Thomas Merton at the corner of Fourth and Walnut in Louisville, of being momentarily flooded by the felt-insight of love for the strangers with whom a city is shared.

I look to this embodied experience of stranger love as a site for both transformative moral formation, as well as an experience rife with potentially problematic constructions. To do so, I engage Sara Ahmed’s post-colonial critique of the notion of strangers. Ahmed argues that there are no actual unfamiliars, as every seeming stranger is already positioned within various interweaving social forces and relations. The love I experience for someone I do not intimately know is coded by collective and personal histories, which contribute to building my reading and naming of another’s body as strange in particular ways.

Taking this evaluation seriously, I develop a critical-mystical understanding of what it means to love strangers as neighbours. In dialogue with Moe-Lobeda, I argue that love is both God’s indwelling presence in the world, as well as a disposition that disciples must cultivate and exercise; the feeling of love for one we do not intimately know is both mystical gift as well as ethical call. The experience of loving strangers as neighbours is at once a projection of strangeness onto another’s person, as well as a mystical encounter with the Love that invites us to practice love by undermining all of those systems and ways of relating that participate in positioning other bodies as strange.


  1. Joëlle Morgan, St. Paul University. “The Mountain to Climb is but a Symptom: Restorying Indigenous-Settler Relations in the Canadian Colonial Difference”

In 2015, Justice Murray Sinclair famously described the work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and the gift of the Calls to Action (CTA), as a mountain that they challenged Canadian society to climb. The CTA’s engage us in facing the settler colonial story, but if we pay close enough attention they move us beyond the residential schools history and into a deep un/settling of the Canadian narrative. They unlock the potential to restory Indigenous-settler relations through a conscientisation journey. This paper will briefly explore the comfort of Canadian society, churches and theological voices in settler coloniality and the opportunity unsettling these narrative patterns has for creating a settler transformation, conscious of the Canadian colonial difference.

I root this theological reflection in local experiences of one primarily settler group of Christians in the Ottawa Presbytery on unceded Algonquin lands, and thus draw out themes and concepts that point toward a settler theology of liberation. Un-settling theology requires listening deeply to the challenge of Indigenous scholars who are offering ways to liberate theology and for theology to be liberating in light of coloniality. Drawing on theology, peacebuilding and decolonial research, I will explore the concept of liberation as that of salvation that can be understood as and rooted in social healing. The healing requires both sides of speaking and hearing, the oral and the aural, Indigenous and settler peoples together engaged in the possibility of just and fertile relations in, on and with this land.


  1. Paul Heidebrecht, Conrad Grebel University College, “Wrestling with Innovation: How Can We Make Space(s) for the Spirit to Move?”

We are marking the 150th anniversary of Confederation in a context increasingly enamored with innovation. It seems as though political, business, and civic leaders everywhere are in a race to embrace change, to disrupt the economic status quo, and to create new identities for communities that can no longer count on old ways to face contemporary challenges. Indeed, even this year’s Congress is encouraging us to look ahead, focusing our expertise on the next 150 years. This presentation will explore the theological implications of this context, and will argue that it presents both challenges and opportunities for ecclesial communities. In particular, I will articulate several instructive and even inspirational insights for the mission of churches in Canada based on my engagement with university and community-based programs in social innovation and entrepreneurship.


  1. Alison Hari-Singh, Toronto School of Theology. “Thinking Ecclesiologically about Two TRC Recommendations: Toward an Anglican Retrieval”

This paper looks at constructing a way forward in light of recommendations 59 and 60 directed at the churches put forward by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada: Calls to Action – that Christian clerics and institutions need to “respect Indigenous spirituality in its own right, the history and legacy of residential schools and the roles of the church parties in that system, the history and legacy of religious conflict in Aboriginal families and communities, and the responsibility that churches have to mitigate such conflicts and prevent spiritual violence.”

Most conversations today concerning the missionization of Indigenous peoples in Canada historically is overwhelmingly, and appropriately, negative.  However, colonial and systemic oppression was not invariably the original vision set forth by some organizations that sent missionaries to this land to spread the gospel to the original inhabitants.  For example, the initial directive of the Church Missionary Society (CMS) of the Church of England in the 19th century did not officially condone this strategy.

Henry Venn Jr., mission strategist and the director of the CSM for much of the 19th century, had a very specific vision and approach for mission.  This included the development of a national or “native” church in which those who already inhabited the land who would develop their own leaders and evangelize their own people.  Mission, for Venn, meant the eventual exit of Western missionaries from the field, because a self-governing, self-sustaining and self-propagating “native” church would have been established.

In retrospect, the Anglican Church in Canada does exhibit these three marks, but not in the way Venn would have expected.  Through a long series of events and deeply held patronizing and racist views toward non-European peoples, most CMS missionaries did not follow Venn’s directive and return home.  The colonial church became the “native” church.  This national church acted in conjunction with the aims of the Canadian government – to cement the settler as the intended inhabitants of the land through commerce and “civilization.”

This paper hopes to explore what the churches, especially the Anglican Church of Canada, might do to take seriously the recommendations of the TRC.  Short of settlers leaving this land, I contend that a thoughtful reconsideration of Venn’s vision may help settlers encounter Indigenous peoples in Canada with contrition, but also solidarity in the face of the Canadian government’s continued failure to recognize Indigenous land rights, autonomy, and ways of being.  I argue that ceremony and ritual mark and unite both Indigenous communities and the churches as alternative socially embodied traditions vis-à-vis the nation-state.  Our hope should be the reconciliation of all traditioned peoples so that both communities may govern, sustain and propagate themselves.


  1. Dave Csinos, Atlantic School of Theology. “Transforming a Vision: Theologies of Children and the United Church’s Quest to Become Intercultural”

In 2006, the United Church of Canada put forward a vision for becoming intercultural. This vision painted a picture of a church moving away from shallow tolerance common among Canadian discourses surrounding diversity and toward respect, appreciation, and mutual encounters among people of diverse cultural backgrounds. But is this vision as transformative as it intends to be? To answer this question, I analyze qualitative research into the theological meaning-making of children among United Church congregations that self-identify culturally in different ways. The theological lives of these children and their congregations affirm and challenge core assumptions of the United Church’s vision for becoming intercultural, casting alternative visions grounded in the lived theological realities of individuals and communities within this denomination.


  1. Don Phillips, Diocese of Rupert’s Land. “A Canadian Christology? Communicating Jesus Christ in 21st Century Canada”

Based on a reflexive understanding of the interaction between theology and culture, I will propose a local Christology in response to the local (post-modern) culture of Canadian society in an attempt to strengthen the proclamation and reception of Christ in our day.  Given the fact that our language is part of the sign-system that makes up our culture, even the way we speak and hear about the person and work of Christ is culturally-dependent. I believe that our lack of awareness of this fundamental reality has contributed to the decline of many churches in Canadian society, as potential new members are not able to be “introduced” to the person and work of Jesus Christ in a way that evokes a genuine response; and our present membership is not equipped to communicate this Gospel in effective ways that can be heard by those for whom it is an entirely new proclamation.

This situation presents several challenges. The first is the need to appreciate the importance of being able to identify and describe a local culture. I will be utilizing the work of Clifford Geertz and Kathryn Tanner.  Secondly, it requires an understanding of the tradition of interaction between the proclamation of the Gospel and culture. I will use the foundational work of H. Richard Niebuhr as a springboard.  Thirdly, it requires the development of an orthodox Christology that is as free as possible from an interpretive cultural frame. I will draw this out from the work of Has Frei.  And finally, contemporary Christians need to be immersed in this new vocabulary in order to be able to employ it in their conversations and relationships.  Being a member of the Anglican Church of Canada with its liturgical tradition, I will briefly illustrate the application of this local Christology in a Eucharistic Prayer.


  1. Graham McDonough, University of Victoria. “Confronting simplistic portrayals of Jews and Judaism in Catholic School Curriculum”

Today, more than 50 years after the Second Vatican Council issued Dei Verbum (DV) and Nostra Aetate (NA), important questions remain about how Catholic school curriculum presents Jews and Judaism.  If, when teaching certain lessons, teachers are not prepared to attend to biblical exegesis and the Church’s troubled history of relations with Jews, they may – even unwittingly – reinforce the conditions that enable simplistic and distorted views of Jews and Judaism.  Specifically, this presentation examines the consequences of combining “The Greatest Commandment” (Matthew 22:36-40) and “The Good Samaritan” (Luke 10:25-37) stories for the purpose of teaching about God’s universal love.  This presentation offers a normative argument that these stories should be maintained in curriculum on the condition that they are taught with a concurrent purpose of directly confronting Catholicism’s history of distorting Judaism and oppressing Jews, and lead toward the hope of greater inter-religious encounter.


  1. Steve Harris “Will I Be Canadian in the Resurrection? Nationality, Identity and Christian Eschatology”

This paper explores what aspects of human identity should be thought to be restored and/or transformed in Christian theology on the resurrection, with nationality as a particular test case. Augustine, for instance, believed that resurrection bodies will be sexed. Peter Lombard (c.1096-1160) held that the resurrected will have memories of their mortal life, though in a purified way. As a preserver of identity, memory raises questions about historical and social, as well as physical, continuity in the eschaton. Drawing on the role of the “nations” in Revelation, the paper queries whether the transformation Lombard ascribes to memory can be similarly thought to apply to national identity in the resurrection. It then concludes with some brief pastoral and political-theological reflections.


  1. Don Schweitzer, St. Andrew’s College. “A Role for People in Jesus’ Resurrection”

This presentation argues that while Jesus’ resurrection has objective dimensions, people also have a role to play in it, and that in the present, part of that role can be described as taking the crucified people down from the cross. It begins by examining some recent discussions of Jesus’ resurrection which understand it as an eschatological event in which people have a role to play. It then examines 1 Timothy 3:16 and other resurrection traditions to show that Jesus’ resurrection is understood in the New Testament as an objective event that remains incomplete without peoples’ participation in it. Augustine will then be shown to have continued this way of understanding Jesus’ resurrection with his notion of the “whole Christ.” The arguments of Ignacio Ellacuría and Jon Sobrino will then be used to show that a significant part of this role in the present and foreseeable future consists in working to take the crucified people down from the cross. Finally, the notion that God’s goodness is inherently self-diffusive will be used to help explain how Jesus’ resurrection can be at once objectively real and yet still incomplete without people’s participation in it.


Jay Newman Lecture: Karolina Hübner, University of Toronto. “Pantheism and thought in Spinoza’s Philosophy”

One of the consequences of pantheism – the identification of God and nature – is the problem of understanding if and how human beings can be distinguished from God on such an account. The lecture tackles this problem by looking at a key component of Spinoza’s pantheism, his commitment to viewing human minds as mere “parts” of God’s own intellect. One of the problems this commitment generates is that it renders unclear who exactly is thinking the ideas that constitute human minds. That is, who exactly is the thinking ‘subject’ in Spinoza’s philosophy? Some scholars propose that for Spinoza only God can think the ideas that make up human minds. Others reject this solution on the grounds that surely it must be we, human beings, who think these ideas, not God, if Spinoza has any right to regard these minds as ‘human’ and to distinguish them from the divine intellect. In my talk I propose that Spinoza in fact endorses a third position, according to which both human beings and God are the simultaneous thinking subjects of ideas that constitute human minds, though in different ways. In this twofold account of the subject of thought, Spinoza seems to be staking out an original position in the history of the philosophy of mind.


  1. Engin Senzen, Waterloo Lutheran Seminary. “Sohbet Group Experiences of Three Turkish Canadian Muslim Men”

Sohbet is one of the most common cultural, spiritual, and religious practices amongst Turkish Canadian Muslims. In this qualitative phenomenological study as the researcher, I interviewed three Turkish Canadian Muslim men to develop a better understanding their lived-experiences in their participation in a Sohbet in Montreal. This study’s overarching research question was: “How do newcomer Turkish Muslim men experience Sohbet in Canadian settings?”  I examined spiritual, social, and psychological aspects of the Sohbet experience by focusing on the feelings and thoughts of its three participants.

As a reading and conversational circle, Sohbet brings Muslims together with their faithful companions on a regular basis, usually weekly. Open-ended conversations in Sohbets’ intimate settings provide context and capacity to transform people’s lives. Turkish Muslims in Canada regularly attend Sohbet groups at mosques, cultural centres, and houses to expand their religious knowledge, to practice religious rituals, and experience spiritual healing. Some of these newcomers read Fethullah Gülen’s teachings in their Sohbet groups. Gülen, a contemporary Muslim scholar, authored a number of Quranic exegesis and his followers strive to maintain a vital spiritual life by reading and discussing his writings in group settings. He defines Sohbet as one of the most effective ways to reach God and he often emphasizes the importance of the relationships between a Muslim’s spiritual growth and his/her regular attendance to a Sohbet group

This paper suggests that the Sohbet is more than a simple religious gathering in the lives of its participants, but it is a sacred space for their personal growth, sense of belonging, and spirituality. It functions as a kind of social glue which fostered its three participant’s strong sense of belonging, solidarity, companionship, and learning in a sacred atmosphere. As a popular learning, praying, and socialising environment, Sohbet is a significant alterative space for Muslims’ growth, sense of belonging, and spirituality in Canada.


  1. Stan Chu Ilo, De Paul University. “Teaching and Learning in a Multicultural Canada: Challenges and Opportunities”

Since the introduction of a comprehensive equity and inclusive educational strategy (EIE) by the Ontario Ministry of Education in 2009, there has been a significant tension within Catholic school boards in Ontario. This tension has emerged because of internal contestations within the Catholic school boards, theological schools, and in the Catholic schools as to how to implement the EIE on one hand and on the other hand still maintain a distinctive faith-based Catholic identity for Catholic schools.

The dialectically opposed secular-religious and liberal-conservative frameworks for conceiving the philosophical, theological, and experiential bases for inclusive school culture and multicultural theological education for teachers in Catholic school offer a strong source of conflict.  The development of a Catholic Equity and Inclusive Education Strategy (CEIE), for example, has led to a shift in focus and mission for the faith-based priorities and practices of the Catholic schools. It has also opened a number of unanswered and unexamined questions as to how stakeholder in the Catholic school system and theological schools in Canada-who prepare teachers in the schools–understand Catholic educational identity and mission, and the place of the Catholic school in a pluralistic society like Canada. It also raises questions as to the lack of an evidence-based approach in developing practices of inclusive education and multicultural pedagogies in theological schools in Canada.

My presentation will examine the challenges and opportunities of implementing diversity and multicultural education in faith-based Catholic high schools in Ontario, Canada.  I will use the contestations within the Ontario separate school as a lens to examine the wider implications of diversity education in faith-based educational setting—theological schools, faith-formation in parishes, parish ministries etc.—in the fleeting pace of social change in a multicultural Canada. I will make some five proposals for a hermeneutics of multiplicity in understanding the diverse stories of a pluralistic Canadian population and pedagogies of inclusion in preparing teachers and theologians to meet these challenges with openness, and hope.


  1. Frank Emanuel (St. Paul University) and Robert Walker (Trinity College), A Better Welcome for LGBTQ+ Evangelicals”

The phrase “welcoming, but not affirming” coined by Canadian evangelical theologian Stanley Grenz is the language by which some evangelical traditions have attempted to frame their approach to LGBTQ+ inclusion in the life and ministry of their churches. In particular this is the language that the US Vineyard denomination has adopted through a recent position paper, “Pastoring LGBT Persons” (2014) as its approach to issues of belonging and participation.  The intention behind this language is to be inclusive, however the experience of this language is problematic for LGBTQ+ members who long to be more than just congregants. This paper will explore the role of language in the formation of Christian community. This paper is a collaborative effort and presentation by an evangelical who self-identifies as a member of the LGBTQ+ demographic and an evangelical theologian who has worked on issues of inclusion in the Canadian Vineyard context. We will draw from our experiences as evangelicals, both queer and straight, to explore the ecclesial and relational implications of the language of “welcoming, but not affirming.” We will draw on the scholarship of Mark D. Jordan to analyse various evangelical resources for approaching LGBTQ+ inclusion. Our hope is that we might suggest language that helps evangelical communities truly meet their intention of building inclusive communities.


  1. Nathan Gibbard, Ryerson University. “The Possibility and Promise of a Catholic Theology of Adoption”

This paper examines the possibility of a Catholic theology of adoption, and what that might look like given previous statements regarding life issues by the Holy See.  More precisely, it argues that a Catholic theology of adoption has historically been premised more on the idea of Johannine filiation.  Johannine filiation emphasizes the change in nature of the person bestowed on baptism, a change in the very nature of the person that adoption does not convey as fully.  But this notion of filiation, combined with arguments used for the Holy See’s position on contraception and fertility issues, privileges a biological rather that adoptive understanding of our relationship to God.  Crucial to understanding this position is Paul VI’s Humanae Vitae, which linked God directly to the biological process as the author of the spark of life.  Linked to biological creation in such a way, contraception becomes a violation to one of the partners in the sexual act.  However, linked to biological creation, God cannot adopt; we can only, like the prodigal, return and recognize our original heritage.  Ultimately, this inability to link actual adoption with theological adoption helps to explain the disparity between Catholic and Protestant adoption practices.

My paper is part of a larger project to try and explore the implications of the difficulty of linking real adoption to theological adoption within the Catholic context, especially as it relates to reproductive issues.  While the idea of humans as primarily prodigals strengthens our relationship to God, it also has real pastoral consequences.  For example, the pastoral needs of infertile couples are rarely mentioned in Catholic Church documents, the most definitive statement coming from the 1994 Catechism; “Spouses who still suffer from infertility after exhausting legitimate medical procedures should unite themselves with the Lord’s cross, the source of all spiritual fecundity.”  Within this context is there a way to find alternative metaphors to structure Catholic thinking on adoption, or even the relationship between parents and children in general?  How could those alternative metaphors enrich current discussions regarding life issues?


  1. Shannon Wylie, University of Toronto, “Dialogue of Life and Death: Christian de Chergé on Christian-Muslim Friendship”

In an increasingly multicultural Canada, what does it mean to encounter the “Other”? In particular, what does it mean to encounter Middle Eastern culture and religion as we welcome tens of thousands of refugees from war-torn countries? Canada is not the only country facing these questions of migration, and as such can look to where these questions and concerns have been faced elsewhere. This paper proposes to discuss these questions from the perspective of the Trappist monk Christian de Chergé, who lived the concern and drama of Christian-Muslim encounter in his daily life in the Atlas Abbey in the Tibhirine Mountains of Algeria during the latter half of the twentieth century.

Discerning a vocation to serve in Algeria, de Chergé devoted himself to studies of the Arabic language and the Quran. He lived for several decades in the Tibhirine Mountains, hosting meetings and discussions with Catholic and Muslim religious groups. Under the threat of death for all foreigners, de Chergé and his brother monks decided to stay and serve their local community. De Chergé recounts the insights he gained into Christian-Muslim relationships and his fear of death in several articles and letters compiled by Bruno Chen in L’Invincible Espérance [The Invincible Hope].

Drawn from my larger research project on post-Vatican II Christian-Muslim dialogue, the example of de Chergé provides themes of mercy, diversity, and martyrdom for us to consider the radicality of encounter. The majority of the research on de Chergé is biographical and in French. My research opens up the discussion to a wider audience and focuses on linking de Chergé’s thought to the wider context of post-Vatican II stance on inter-religious dialogue and the shared necessity of study and a lived encounter. It also reflects on the question of martyrdom within dialogue.


  1. Martha Downey, Ryerson University, “The Role of Theology: Superpower or Well-Kept Secret?”

Theology, once queen of the sciences, is now often pitted against the formalised study of the physical world. In many places, religion has become marginalized and in some instances, vilified. As a result, the case for theology, especially within the university, must be reiterated time and again. Drawing on the writings of Swiss theologian, Hans Urs von Balthasar, Ignatian spirituality, and recent movies (Dr. Strange and Silence), I put forth three reasons why theology is vital not only to the church, but to society as a whole.

First, theology gives us language to talk about greater things, in particular, Aristotle’s transcendentals (beauty, goodness, truth), all of which are personified in the person of Christ. In addition, theology provides a framework for developing a cohesive, overarching philosophy concerning the meaning of human life. In this way, the study of theology is, perhaps more than any other discipline, a humanitarian endeavour.

Second, theology demands that we embrace the small things, primarily because studying the Divine One necessitates a posture of humility. In theology, we are forced to acknowledge the limits of our knowledge and admit that we cannot fully comprehend the beginning or the ending of life. In Ignatian spirituality, embracing smallness translates into an invitation to become more attentive to the minute details of life and in doing so, find God in all things.

Finally, since theology’s central theme, God loves the world, is based on connection and encounter, theology has an inherent mandate to interact with other disciplines and practices. Instead of attempting to reclaim theology’s position as queen of the sciences, I posit that theology should take on the role of helpmate within the university, seeking to serve science and art. Informed by the incarnation of Christ, theologians embrace both the spiritual and the physical, both mystery and practicality, and they know that wisdom resides in joining these things together. At its best, theology is a connector, enabling us to find God in all things and all things in God.

  1. Robert Timmins, Emmanuel College. “A Movement of Spirits: Exploring the Political-Theological Significance of the Annual Women’s Memorial March”

Each year, Vancouverites participate in the Annual Women’s Memorial March, an event that allows social justice-oriented individuals to remember, mourn, and express solidarity with the missing and murdered Indigenous women of Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. Currently in its 27th year, the annual march seeks to spread awareness of the plight of Vancouver’s most vulnerable citizens, and to generate public support for a community-led national inquiry into missing and murdered women.

The objective of this paper is to explore the political-theological significance of the march, primarily by drawing upon the formative work of political theologian Johann Baptist Metz. Over the past several decades, Metz has explored the relationship between memory and praxis, focusing on describing various methods by which politically-subversive memories might be communicated in ways capable of disrupting an unjust status-quo. Metz refers to these sorts of memories as, ‘dangerous memories,’ and his work is largely concerned with the archiving of practices that bear witness to the subversive power of remembering.

This paper considers the import of the Women’s Memorial March in light of Metz’s political theology, ultimately suggesting that the march constitutes an example par excellence of what ‘dangerous memory’ communication might look like in practice. At the same time, by exploring the march’s appeal to indigenous epistemologies, spiritual practices, and experiences of oppression and resistance, this paper argues that the Women’s Memorial March challenges some of the suppositions that lay at the heart of Metz’s own approach to memory and praxis. This paper sketches, then, both a political-theological reading of the Women’s Memorial March, and a uniquely Indigenous intervention into Johann Baptist Metz’s formative political-theological work.


  1. Mark Novak, Institute for Christian Studies, “‘Yes, yes’ with/out ‘No, no’: Understanding (apparent) Equivocation in Derrida”

As we enter 2017, we are faced with a barrage of concerning situations—new ones that broach us, and old ones that continue to haunt us. Canada’s 150th year, and the Reformation’s 500th year, has made clearer the uncertain times that we live in, both in Canada and around the world. We may wonder: How are we to cope with this uncertainty? When, if ever, will we escape it? Philosopher Jacques Derrida hung his hat on dealing with such questions. Contributing to fields such as literary theory/criticism, law, philosophy, and theology, Derrida’s evaluation of texts and concepts, and the introduction of his own, is firmly engrained in academia. While there are those who would liken Derrida to an irrationalist, nihilist, and relativist, and so slough off his work as nonsense, it would seem that these individuals have not taken the time to truly understand him. While I lend a kinder ear to Derrida, there are a few reservations I have that need to be flushed out. I want to narrow in on one main one for this paper: an apparent equivocation in Derrida’s thinking, especially with regards to a ‘yes’ and a ‘no’.

Throughout much of his work, Derrida spoke in positive terms. He sought to overcome ontology/metaphysics for its violent totalizing; sought to foster ethical relations in service of justice; and described an originary ‘yes’, pledge, and affirmation. However, there is another side of Derrida that seems to contradict this: one in which everything is negative and violent. Every attempt at interpretation, writing, and naming, is unequivocally tied to domination and violence. As he sees it, there is no genuine interaction that is possible because hierarchy will also ensue. Indeed, this hierarchical violence must ensue. Is the ‘yes’ for Derrida merely, or outweighed by, a ‘no’? Is there equivocation at the heart of Derrida? These questions will guide this paper to its tenuous conclusion: there is a necessary ‘yes’ with/out ‘no’ structure in Derrida’s conception of the world. However, what may appear as paradoxical non-sense—and non-comforting at that—Derrida’s conclusion seems to tap into something key to theology: as creatures, the originary structures will always be veiled and uncertain to us. As Bonhoeffer wrote, “where the beginning begins our thinking stops, it comes to an end.” As such, in uncertain times we must wager in faith that there is a Yes behind the veil.


  1. Panel: “Our Voices are Needed in the Midst of Diversity: Interfaith Dialogue in a ‘Postnational’ Canada” – Convenor, Lindsay Ann Cox (Toronto School of Theology), Rabbi Emma Gottlieb (City Shul), Faisal Kamal (University of Toronto)

In the autumn of 2015, New York Times Magazine published an article entitled, “Trudeau’s Canada, Again,” which made a radical argument about Canada, one not based on our European history but on our embrace of multicultural

diversity. According to Prime Minister Trudeau, “There is no core identity, no mainstream in Canada. There are shared values – openness, respect, compassion,willingness to work hard, to be there for each other, to search for equality and

justice. Those qualities are what make us the first postnational state.” Fifteen months later, after the ascension of the Drumpf administration, The Guardian published, “The Canadian experiment: is this the world’s first ‘postnational’ country?” Therein it argues Canadian postnationalism means that we do not share a ‘core identity’ based on ethnicities because Canada’s very own history – including thecolonial period – is one which forced us to learn how to “survive and thrive amid multiple identities and allegiances.” Living in the midst of such diversity created a “different lens to examine the challenges and precepts of an entire politics, economy and society,” which, in effect, transformed our lack of core identity into a strengthable to encourage the development of a plurality of identities and “a healthy flexibility and a receptivity to change. Once Canada moved away from privileging denizens of the former empire to practicing multiculturalism, it could become a place where ‘many faiths and histories and visions’ would co-exist.” The journalist ends the article urging his readers to understand that “the world needs more Canada” in order to lead the way to a “new model of belonging.” Canadian postnationalism is relevant to the ‘far and wide’ of Canada – past, present and future. But how does postnationalism function exactly? In what ways can these ‘many faiths and histories and visions’ contribute more effectively to Canadian multiculturalism? What are some of the implications of postnationalism? This panel will address these issues using an interdisciplinary approach to explore postnationalism as an opportunity for substantive interfaith contributions to the  public sphere.


  1. Panel: Rachel Knight-Messenger, University of St. Michael’s College; Rev. Kathleen C. Buligan Wycliffe College; Jane Barter, University of Winnipeg; Kimberley Penner, Emmanuel College.

This panel seeks to be the first contribution of the Equity Committee (established May 2016) by bringing together three women theologians to discuss the role of women in theology in Canada. This panel will engage with the theme of the annual meeting this year, “From Far and Wide: The Next 150” by focusing on examining how the role of women in theology in Canada continues to evolve. The first speaker will provide a survey of Canadian women in theology in the 19th C, including the voices of Eliza Lanesford Cushing, Helen Mar Johnson, Letitia Youmans, as well as some other Canadian women theologians who were engaging with biblical and theological studies during this time period. The second speaker will build from the first speaker’s work by focusing on the identity of women theologians in Canada today, with particular emphasis given to the challenges feminist theology in Canada faces in a period of declining enrolment in theological schools. The second paper will also look to the manner in which feminist theologians are challenging traditional theological studies by working at the intersections of church, university, seminary and political life.  The concluding paper will be offered by a graduate student (Ph.D. candidate), who will present her own work as an example of the future of women in theology in Canada. While her research focuses on feminist Mennonite theology, her approach contains both theology and ethics, which is an example of the interdisciplinary trend that is growing in academic research in Canada. Each of these panelists will be given ten minutes to present, and a ten minute discussion period will be held once each of the three panelists have completed their presentations.

The goal of this panel is twofold. First, to strengthen the voice of women theologians participating in the CTS annual meeting through the assistance of this Equity Committee, and second, to contribute a feminist response to the theme of this conference from the voices of active women in theology today. Furthermore, in order to foster dialogue, the conclusion of each panelist will involve a question or statement regarding the period of their paper and the status of women in theology in Canada. At the conclusion of all three papers, the moderator will then repeat these questions/statements as part of the question and discussion period.