As I continue to scrimp and save in order to pay for my doctorate next year, I began today to jot down some ideas as to what it is I’ll be spending 4-6 years researching. I ended up drafting the foreword to my research which, I’d like to share with you now.
Ever since I was a child, I have been fascinated by the unknown. I have always asked questions that either no one can answer, or to which the answers are difficult to obtain; what lies at the bottom of the deepest parts of the ocean? How big is the Universe? Where does life come from? What is God?
The latter query is what grabbed my youthful inquisitiveness the most. Singing hymns and praising this ‘God’ character in primary school, having my mother talk about how her deceased relatives had gone to a place far away from the Earth, and learning about the different idea of ‘God’s’ nature from around the world only fed this interest. It wasn’t until a visit to a local monastery that I truly felt the urge and desire to spend my life searching for the answers that lay deep at the heart of the world’s biggest ‘God-believing’ group…Christianity.
Three years of undergraduate study have only inspired this personal quest further and so as I sit here, writing this on Tuesday 2nd July 2013 in the Valley Gardens, Harrogate, I can tell you something with absolute certainty. My theological journey has only just begun.
I am a liberal theologian. I am a pluralist, I care about education. In a world shrouded by intolerance, religious prejudice and hatred, I can only look on with dismay, disbelief and sadness. A serious lack of theological knowledge and understanding in schools, churches and at governmental level is, I feel, the biggest culprit.
My mission then, my ‘purpose’ if you feel it appropriate, is to try and deliver an understanding of religious ideas that may (although not in my lifetime) help alleviate religious and political tensions (cf. Hick 1988), and will one day pave the way for a catholic understanding of what John Hick calls, “the Real”.
By delivering liberal ideas into the classroom, the church and the wider social context, the negative attitudes maintained by atheists, agnostics, philosophers, scientists, theologians and ordinary church-goers towards each other, may be diminished. That is the aim of [my] PhD. That is the aim of my life.