Jon Garvey: The Indigenous Theologian

I’ve dubbed @jongarvey the Indigenous Theologian, and he noticed this with some puzzled bemusement:

As I understand it an indegenous theologian is (variously):

  1. A theologian not formally trained or credentialed in the way often expect in the western world.
  2. Has views tinged by his country or context of origin (hopefully in a good way).
  3. Is an important source of creativity and diversity in otherwise stagnant theological quagmires.

You, @jongarvey, really do seem to be an Indigenous Theologian, do you not? Or should we dub you something else?


I’m very happy to be an indigenous toad living under nice dry rocks rather than in the stagnant theological quagmires of the frogs…


Just to straighten the record, I did study with the Open Theological College for a University of Gloucester degree - just dropped out 2/3 of the way through because of ill-health (Frog erythrocytic virus, I think, or was it exogenous depression?).

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I’m thankful you’ve found a home with us at Peaceful Science. May your kind be fruitful and multiply.

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Here we are!

I don’t get it. I want to get it. Sounds like its a joke…

Of note, at Dabar last week, I introduced myself to Kevin Vanhoozer as an “indigenous theologian.” Vanhoozer is known for his work on theologians in the church, and pastors as theologians. To my dismay he said, “no, you are an amateur theologian.” He meant I did it “for the love of it”, but I think it just means I’m not a professional…

Any how, at my Dabar session, I explained to everyone that Kevin “informs me that I am an amateur theologians, which means you can just ignore everything I am about to say.” Everyone laughed, and the moderator agreed. “I guess that’s it, this session ends early.” And so went my session at Dabar. Though, kindly, they did not actually ignore everything I had to say.

I still think Vanhoozer needs another category. [@swamidass thinks to himself, “maybe if I start calling @jongarvey an indigenous theologian, then maybe It will catch on?”]

Simply indigenous toad spawn!

I like it! Albert Schweitzer did most of his theology working as a doctor in the jungle. I guess that makes him an amateur too. But maybe it helps to remember that, only half a century ago, cricket in England was played by Gentlemen, with a few disdained Professionals who couldn’t earn a living any other way! (Toad of Toad Hall is, of course, a gentleman.)

However, it is a problem to demonstrate unofficial credentials in a world of credentialism - someone can be an atheist, working in a secular college, seeking to disprove the existence of God, and be a professional theologian. Or someone called by God, and empowered by the Spirit to serve a church somewhere in the real world, can study Scripture for a lifetime and read all the literature, and be a mere amateur.

Lydia McGrew’s experienced that recently crossing swords with New Testament scholars. She’s actually qualified in epistemology, on which she’s writing, but she’s not in the guild, so the session ends early.

One of the things that is so intriguing about “origins” studies, as I wrote in my sole essay for BioLogos so far back in 2012, is that everybody is an amateur in most of it. Doesn’t stop professional geneticists criticising professional philosophers of science for their writings on abiogenesis though, or philosophers making theological pronouncements.


Hello, Jon.

Charles Edward Miller
also known to you as Henry Tudor.

Remember that I descend from Morys Wynne of Gwydyr and Catherine Tudor of Berain. I don’t think ole Richmond would mine me using his name now and then. At least, he freed England and Wales from Richard III. Seriously, Jon, may God bless you and your family. Perhaps we should get together on Peaceful Science, which I like, to discuss theology and philosophy.


What happened?

Are you just trying to enact your moniker?

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Lydia has called out a couple (or more) of Evangelical NT scholars on what she sees as unjustified recourse to “literary fictions” in the gospels that are more simply explained by eyewitness testimony. Essentially, seeing problems and contradictions where charitable reading wouldn’t notice an issue.

Apparently in a number of their replies, weight was put on her not being one of the club, a kosher NT scholar. The issue, however, is not scholarship but logic.


I’m more of an indigent theologian. Long ago I was Visiting Professor in Absentia at a seminary, a Folding Chair of Applied Theology.