Beginning with a reflection on the Confessions of St Augustine and the common view of humanity as ‘fallen’, Professor Steenberg went on to address a different paradigm for the human condition, drawn from the writings of early Christianity and the liturgical life of the Eastern Churches. Exploring the theme of ‘exile’ as found in the parable of the Prodigal Son, as well as a number of patristic and liturgical considerations of it, he reflected on the different nuances to human nature, development and potential bound up in this somewhat different approach to articulating the human condition.
In a provocative closing section, Steenberg commented on the challenges facing Christianity in the modern world, and the need for constructive response grounded in Christianity’s living tradition. He remarked that in this tradition, we find “an effective voice to speak into modern society, not by taking up society’s caricatures of Christian belief and responding in kind, but by looking first inward, to its own heritage, and finding there a voice of lasting and unyielding relevance to any age."
Professor Steenberg is Head of Theology and Religious Studies at Leeds Trinity, and a specialist in the Church Fathers as well as a deacon in the Russian Orthodox Church.
His next public lecture at Leeds Trinity will be on 21 January 2009 at 7.00pm, when he will be speaking with Revd Timothy Swinglehurst of the Diocese of Leeds as part of the Pauline Year Seminar Series, on the topic ‘Conversion and Relationship with Christ in the Heritage of St Paul’.
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