Liddon Lecture 2020: ‘Theology, the theologian and the Church: Eric Mascall and the Sixties’

I was delighted to be invited by the Society of the Faith to give the Liddon Lecture for 2020. Like many other things in 2020, it was given online rather than in person in London, and the full lecture is now available on YouTube, along with the lively discussion that ensued.

The relationship between the Church as an institution and its theologians in their working contexts has shifted continually throughout the history of the churches, and it frames and conditions the development of the specific doctrines that have been so well studied. However, the relationship itself – the theology (or perhaps the ecclesiology) of theology, as it were – has seldom been examined directly, and hardly at all for the period since 1945. It is with this relationship, and with the thought and career of E. L. Mascall in particular, that my lecture deals.

After outlining Mascall’s career, and his dual role as scholar and priest, I turn to his critique of famous works such as Soundings (1962), Honest to God (1963) and The Myth of God Incarnate (1977). I deal with Mascall’s understanding of: the relationship of grace, nature and reason; the theologian and the body of Christ; the special responsibility of ‘popular’ theology and of the ordained theologian; the universities, the theological colleges and the Church.

The lecture itself is about 40 minutes long.