First Trinity College Queensland Rodney Eivers Scholarship
On Tuesday 30th July 2019, a Trinity College Queensland, Auchenflower, the presentation of the first Trinity College Queensland Rodney Eivers scholarship for the 2019 year was made to Dylan Katthagen, a student currently at the College.
The scholarship of value $13,000 was awarded on the basis of the applicant’s undertaking some reading to write an essay on the topic: “My response to “progressive” Christianity “. In receiving the award Dylan commented that although he had some reservations about where the progressive approach to theology might be taking us, he was grateful that the studies entailed had led him to open up his thinking and become aware that there are options for Christian faith beyond orthodoxy.
The scholarships will continue to be offered in the coming years but discussions are yet to be held with Paul Hedley Jones, the new Principal of Trinity College Queensland to ascertain what the scope of the awards will be. Those interested in applying may contact the College to find current details.
In presenting the award Rodney made the following remarks, (with some editing) which seem to have been well received by the students at the gathering.
30th July 2019
On granting of Rodney Eivers scholarship to Dylan Katthagen
My first words must to be to congratulate Dylan Katthagen on being the first recipient of the Rodney Eivers scholarship. I have not had the chance yet to get to know Dylan well but from the brief interaction we have had I feel some confidence that he will be a worthy recipient of this award. Furthermore I am hopeful that his exposure to “progressive” Christianity through his studying for the scholarship will lead him to have an open approach to fitting the Christian gospel to the knowledge and experiences of people of the 21st century.
The College and I are still feeling our way with the field of applicants for the provision of the scholarships. I look with keen anticipation in getting together with our new Principal Paul to tease out some of the issues which arise. I would like, for instance, to widen the availability of the scholarships to all students and all potential students.
In doing this, however, I have struck a problem. It is connected with the nature of a theological college. A theological college course is different from an academic university course in, say, comparative religion. The nature of the university is to seek knowledge objectively. That is, all fields of enquiry are open.
Students come to a theological institution, however, from what might be called a faith position. That is, they already hold certain views and assumptions which are not to be challenged. Enquiry may seek to explain those assumptions but it may not probe into doctrinal concepts. Where do we draw that fuzzy line between “spiritual formation” and academic objectivity?
Now I look at the Australian religious scene where Christianity is declining steadily, where the census listed the biggest religious category as “no religion”. This applies for some one third of our population and growing fast. There may be many reasons for this but it is not helpful if we cannot explain Christian traditional doctrine in 21st century terms. I am sure our lecturers here at Trinity College Queensland seek to do that.
I must emphasise that I am very sensitive to the charge that I may be trying to buy influence in the content of Trinity College Queensland courses. Nevertheless, I do I see it as appropriate, to push the boundaries. To try to describe traditional orthodoxy not only in today’s language but also to explore its concepts. That would include the traditional doctrines such as the resurrection, the Trinity and substitutional atonement.
I trust you will join with me in nurturing the Kingdom of God by building up our student enrolments through such means as these scholarships. I count it as a privilege to have the opportunity to do that and look forward to engaging with your new Principal, Paul, In seeking ways that we might achieve our common purpose of being Jesus people in a turbulent world.
Rodney Eivers, Chair, UC FORUM.