This might have been a book I should have bought a physical copy of.
I was only a little familiar with Martyn Percy before this assignment. In fact in took me a minute to recognize the name. I actually have used one of Martyn Percy’s books in the specific research for my dissertation. Percy’s book Shaping The Church: The Promise of Implicit Theology was a helpful addition to researching practical ministry training which is a core part of my dissertation. In fact, Percy has written so much about this topic he has been called the “practical theologian” by the editor of the text we read. And this book was good practical theology. It’s obvious how more than this book was than the current pop-theology book a la whatever John Bevere is releasing next book. Nor is it purely academic theology, which is always refreshing.
Reasonable Radical: Reading the Writings of Martyn Percy led me to ponder the question, why did Jason assign this text to us. This is a question we were all encouraged to ask our self throughout the course of this study. I can think of a few reasons for this reason for this text to be assigned. First, Percy is a theologian from Oxford which we will soon be visiting. Second, I think this is just a great book for us to study the contemporary issues in ministerial leadership, that is what the second half of the book is about. But the first half of the books is a compilation of a handful of other scholars talking about Percy. I think not only does this model for us great dialogue around a relevant/imminent issues, but also, I think, this is the type of engagement that I think Jason wants to see us engage in after our program ends. I imagine Jason would be thrilled to see this level of theological engagement within the niches of our own expertise and the contemporary cultural problems we encounter.
Martyn Percy seems to be one who gets it, the need for more practical connection to theology in as many ways as possible. I say as many ways as possible, because consider all that Martyn Percy brings his theological mind to. The editor if this book we are studying, Ian S. Markham said about Percy that he “writes with clarity and passion on topics that range from ecclesiology to music, from sexuality to the Trinity, from advertising to ministerial training–he is a polymath.” Many might not have seen the theological connections and issues in such secular parts of life, put Percy approaches these topics still. It was reminiscent to our study on Elliot, how he seemed to make everything about Social Theory. While I was ready to dismiss Elliot as not concrete enough, Percy’s theological commentary on these subjects were much more interesting for me.
For this study I decided to zoom my scope in to one particular issue was that of higher education for ministers. In chapter 13 Practically Priests: Privileging in the Lived in Ministerial Training, Daniel Warnke discussing essay, Context, Character, and Challenges: The Shaping of Ordination Training. A whole chapter on ministerial training could not be timelier for me. This was a perfect addition for the ecclesiology, theology, and even history of my dissertation. One quote of particular interest for me explained an aspect of seminary growth that I had not realized yet. Percy states, “It is ironic that seminaries and colleges have mostly developed out of tensions and disputes in contending for Anglican identity. Many institutions emerge because of their sense of needing to provide a distinctive mode and ethos of formation that was rooted in particular theological and ecclesial “party” vision.” While some, like the Jesuits have planted schools as missions endeavors, many seminaries actually started more like a church split!
In addition, I think the catchphrase, “practically Priests” is a powerful title that says a lot all by itself. I wonder how I can incorporate this title into my dissertation project.
I think Martyn Percy might have more that I could use in my dissertation and I am encouraged to focus in on him in particular for some more research.
On a side note, it looks like next week is our last leadership book we will be reading together. I’m already starting to get sentimental…
Chapman, Mark D., Sathianathan Clarke, and Martyn Percy. The Oxford Handbook of Anglican Studies. Oxford, United Kingdom: Oxford University Press, 2016.
Markham, Ian S., and Joshue Daniel. Reasonable Radical?: Reading the Writings of Martyn Percy. Pickwick Publications, 2018.
 Ian S. Markham and Joshue Daniel, ,Reasonable Radical?: Reading the Writings of Martyn Percy (Pickwick Publications, 2018), Loc. 135.
 Ian S. Markham and Joshue Daniel, Reasonable Radical?: Reading the Writings of Martyn Percy (Pickwick Publications, 2018). Loc. 4746.