Nancy E. Bedford
Georgia Harkness Professor of Theology
- B.J., University of Texas at Austin
- M.Div., Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary
- D.Th., Karl-Ludwigs-Universitat Tubingen
What does it mean for me to teach in my discipline, which is systematic theology? The first thing that comes to mind is that to teach theology brings en-joy-ment. There is joy in it. And why is that? One reason is that learning and teaching Christian theology are born out of and are enmeshed in the practice of following Jesus, and that is a costly yet a joyful practice: a practice of resistance against the idolatries of the prevailing systems of power and privilege, and a practice of creativity in which new and unimagined ways open up where all ways forward seem blocked. Another reason for the en-joy-ment to be had in the theological task is that teaching and learning Christian theology is a community practice, in which we strengthen each other, correct each other, and are stretched by each other. As we teach and learn theology, we deepen our understandings of the ways in which we participate in the joyful rhythms of God's Trinitarian dynamic. As a teacher, I try to help my students become aware of the stake they have in the questions raised by theology and the responsibility they have to develop their own theology as best they can. I work to give them elements so that they can respond theologically to the questions they will come across. There is a sense in which every Christian is a theologian, and so I hope to help my students become the best theologians that they can in the context of their particular calling.