Tackling the Practical Application of Theology
Ladies and Gentleman, may I present to you our 500,000 minute reformer (on our quest to 1,045,000 service minutes by September 9th) one of the “12 Greatest Contemporary Theologians” (according to the Dallas Morning News in 2006) and the most amazing theology professor ever (according to….. me), Rev. Dr. Cynthia Rigby!
Rigby is currently the co-chair of the Christian Systematic Theology Section of the American Academy of Religion and serves on the faculty of Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary in Austin, Texas.
She has authored:
The Promotion of Social Righteousness (Witherspoon Press, 2010)
Shaping our Faith: A Christian Feminist Theology (Baker Academic, forthcoming)
She is the co-editor (with Beverly Gaventa) of Blessed One: Protestant Perspectives on Mary (Westminster John Knox Press, 2002)
And, Rev. Rigby is the editor of Power, Powerlessness, and the Divine: New Inquiries in Bible and Theology (Scholars Press, 1997)
Her influence, however, extends much further than folks who want to explore theology academically. Rigby’s work tackles practical application of theology as it pertains to equality, justice, and a deep relationship with our creator. This is why if you walk by her classroom at any given time you may find her crouched in the corner or standing up on a chair to demonstrate one point or another.
Rigby draws heavily from reformers such as Karl Barth, and encourages us to explore the ramifications of some of our theology. (Theology literally means “words about God.”)
So what does it mean for us mere mortals if grace is truly a free gift from God – one we don’t have to earn? How does it change the way we live and the way we see the world? How does it affect our concept of what is fair and right? What about the literal and particular humanity of Jesus? How does each individual trait and fact about Jesus change our understanding of our savior?
These are the types of struggles that Rigby discusses every day with her students and with those who read her work. For those who are interested, but don’t have time to take on a theology text, she has many sermons archived online, and writes periodically for Presbyterian Outlook. I also has a few notebooks full of lecture notes from my time at Austin Seminary, and I’m happy to share.
Rev. Kelly Staples is Associate Pastor and Director of Youth Ministries for NorthPark Presbyterian. She grew up a member of First Presbyterian Church of Shreveport, received her Bachelor's degree from Middle Tennessee State University, and her Masters of Divinity from Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary.