DMINLGP

DMin, Leadership and Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

Confusion of an Arkeigetologist

Written by: on September 5, 2019

In most cases, I find introductions merely state the intention of the material that follows. It is a preamble of sorts; a way to explain the rationale for the chapters to come, so introductions rarely give reason to pause for further thought and inquiry. However, the Theology of Leadership Journal did precisely that, meaning I wish to reflect on the editorial itself.[1]

Though each of the articles is interesting in its own right, I am not convinced that the material cannot be found elsewhere in leadership literature. What is true is that it may not so easily be accessed than it might be if positioned in one location. Despite this, I am intrigued by two things of note. The first is the self-critiquing question asked by the editor Russell L. Huizing, and the second surrounds the definition of terms.

Huizing’s editorial is titled, Do We Really Need Another Academic Journal?[2] The answer depends on the clarity of the editorial committee regarding the purpose of the Journal. On first reading, I was a little confused as to the purpose of the Journal given its title. “Theology”, like “love”, is a noun often used with little reflection on its meaning, and it would have been helpful to have that clarified in the first issue of a new Journal. However, more on that later.

Nonetheless, what is clear is the Journals outcomes in regards to ongoing academic discussion regarding leadership from a Christian perspective in three particular ways.

First, it must be academically accessible to all levels of the academy and peer-reviewed. At the moment, most articles on Christian leadership, though having good intent, have rarely (if ever) received independent academic review before publication. Consequently, the Journal may be an essential resource for the student of leadership at higher levels of education and research.

Second, the Journal is determined to offer various biblical studies, alongside historical and contemporary case studies.

Third, and perhaps more importantly in our multifaceted world, the Journal promises to engage with alternative and creative expressions of leadership that are more aligned to what our doctoral course has referred to as “Visual Ethnography”.

Having read all the articles from Paul the Team Leader to Weak Enough to Lead, I am full of hope for the usefulness of the Journal in providing rigorous Christian thinking to leadership models and frameworks, while at the same time offering possibilities from “out of the box expressions”.

However, where confusion remains is the use of “Theology” in the title.

Theology is straightforward; it is the study of God and little else. Theology defines our limited understanding of the Creator. That God understanding provides the framework from which we understand ourselves, each other, our world, our place in it and our obligations as creatures made in the image of the Creator. As such, theology is an ongoing process. Wolfhart Pannenberg in reviewing both Hegel and Michael Polany determined that theology, as with all human knowledge, is provisional. It is not reducible to mere formulas of truth about God. The future is the focal point of the final truth. Consequently, all dogmatic assertions are systems that need assessing for integration with other knowledge. Pannenberg claims this position reflects the Scriptures, as it is only at the end of history that the deity of God is indisputably revealed. [3]

As a result, I wonder if there is such a thing as a theology of leadership. We can have a doctrine of leadership in the same way we have a doctrine of the church; each doctrine flows from our theology (It is worth noting that Roman Catholics and Protestants have different understandings of the terms). That being the case, we can assess a doctrines alignment with our understanding of God’s being and the created order, and this indeed appears to be the understanding of the editor, Russell Huizing. “…we would expect that the Christian approach to leadership will be unique to the character of the Godhead, from which Christian leadership draws its vision.” At this point, Huizing is addressing leadership in relation “to” theology which makes it a doctrine. Then comes the confusion. “At the very least, then, we would expect that a theology of leadership would need to be developed, out of which we would be able to build our theories and models.”[4]

Definition of terms is essential to understanding outcomes. In straightforward terms, theology is the “why” of our beliefs or doctrines. As a result, though the Journal is attempting three important outcomes mentioned above, I am unable to see how the essays are creating a theology when they are trying to offer biblical credence or critique to leadership practices based on the underlying theology of the author.

On a personal note, the Journal’s lack of “term definitions” has allowed me to think more clearly about leadership as a result of theology, rather than a theology waiting for invention. As we have seen throughout this doctoral programme, leadership is a complex of religious, cultural, philosophical, moral and social mores. That complex of realities influences all Christian leaders and, as Huizing points out, they are not devoid of universal truth. So, do we need a theology of leadership to lead? Perhaps we need to reconnect with our actual theology that reveals, discussed and engages, in a kaleidoscope of ways, the nature of our living God expressed more visibly in the Life of Christ Jesus? I am leaning toward the latter, as a I think it determines the character and nature of our leadership in the variety of contexts we find ourselves.

Thus, we need a new title for this Journal, and lgp9 could begin a leadership “title” revolution. As a result of Christian Theology, we now have studies called ecclesiology, eschatology, soteriology, Christology, pneumatology, hamartiology (my favourite) and of course angelology (really?)

The common biblical words for leadership are:

Greek: Ηγεσία and αρχηγία.

Hebrew: מַנְהִיגוּת (manhigut)

This means, rather than a Theology of Leadership, we should be studying Christian leadership as a result of our theology under any one of the following possible ology’s:

Hegetology – ηγεσία

Arkeigetology – αρχηγία

Manhigatology ­– מַנְהִיגוּת

We need a poll to determine which of these ology’s will lead the way. Calling yourself an expert in leadership is somewhat passé these days. But imagine calling yourself an Arkeigetologist! Now that is both impressive and a fabulous segway in to a missional conversation. Try it. I dare you.

 

References

Huizing, Russel L. “Do We Really Need Another Another Academic Journal.” Theology of Leadership Journal 1, no. 1 (2018): 3.

Russel L. Huizing, Mary Jo Burchard, Chris Hamstra, David H. Schuringa, and Artem Kliuchnikov, eds. Theology of Leadership Journal. Vol. 1(1), Theology of Leadership Journal. 2018.

Pannenberg, Wolfhart. Basic Questions in Theology. London: SCM Press, 1970.

Bibliography

[1] Russel L. Huizing and others, eds., Theology of Leadership Journal, Theology of Leadership Journal, vol. 1(1) (2018).

[2] Russel L. Huizing, “Do We Really Need Another Another Academic Journal,” Theology of Leadership Journal 1, no. 1 (2018). 3

[3] Wolfhart Pannenberg, Basic Questions in Theology (London: SCM Press, 1970). 1-25

[4] Huizing, “Do We Really Need Another Another Academic Journal”. 3

About the Author

Digby Wilkinson

I am currently the Vicar of the Tawa Anglican Church in Wellington, New Zealand. I have only been in this role since February 2018. Prior to this appointment, I was the Dean of the Wellington Cathedral of St Paul, which made me the senior priest of the diocese working alongside the Bishop. I guess from an American perspective this makes me look decidedly Episcopalian, however my ministry background and training was among the Baptists. Consequently, I have been serving as pastor/priest for nearly thirty years. My wife Jane also trained for ministry, and has spent the last decade spiritually directing and supervising church leaders from different denominations. We have three grown children.

13 responses to “Confusion of an Arkeigetologist”

  1. Mario Hood says:

    Ok, you sent me on a rabbit trail with this one, so I went over my hour time limit for posting!!!

    Great take on the understanding of definitions and after debating your rationale, I’m with you!

    My vote goes to Arkeigetology and thus after completing this program I was give myself this title! Now when we go to London you have to teach me how to say it Lol!

    • Digby Wilkinson says:

      You went on a rabbit trail, while I felt like Alice down the rabbit hole. However, the more I thought about it (and I thought too much), the more I felt it was important for me personally.

  2. mm Jenn Burnett says:

    Once the vote is in, I’ll organize T-shirts for the cohort.

    I appreciate you pointing to the differentiation between doctrine and theology. Does our study of God necessarily lead us to a particular leadership paradigm, which would suggest a theology or do we come from a position of leadership looking to God for insight on how to do it well. Which would make it more of a doctrinal issue? This has led me to wonder about God as a leader. When did God step in to be our leader? Did Christ come to be a leader or did we place that upon him because people followed him? (Properly he understood himself first as a Rabbi correct?) While I’m a longtime advocate of coming up with a leadership model inspired by Christ and scripture, rather than a sanctification of business models, you have me questioning how we understand the process. And the nomenclature.

    • Digby Wilkinson says:

      I think it’s important to differentiate between Jesus and those who followed him. I sometimes wonder if we spend a lot of time looking at the psychological and spiritual relationship between leader and followers and followers to leader. Does it really matter? You’ll remember the WWJD movement from a few years ago – “What would Jesus do?” When I was writing my philosophy thesis I was encouraged to ask a different question not driven by context – WDJDWJD “Why did Jesus do what Jesus did?” The answer kept returning to his “nature”. If you follow process, I guess the Christian starts that process with Jesus/our nature with a constant reference back to it. As an act of personal disclosure, it is a very reflective way of leading that I don’t always enjoy; it can seriously gum up the faster and more pragmatic mechanisms I am more comfortable with. The problem with study is that ignorance is no longer be bliss 🙁

  3. mm Sean Dean says:

    I love that you spent almost an entire post on the definition of terms. This is a focus we’ve had at my work lately and as such it was a pleasant discovery here. I vote for arkeigetologist mostly because it would confuse people into thinking I couldn’t spell archaeologist, but also because the letter combinations are fun. (There, proof I am an entirely shallow human being)

    • mm Mary Mims says:

      Sean, that’s exactly what I thought! Someone would think you can’t spell…

      • Digby Wilkinson says:

        Perhaps we can make Sean’s spelling a research topic : a way of unpacking the importance research of precision. My PROPER English spelling can be used for “compare and contrast” A level playing field 🙂

      • Digby Wilkinson says:

        Perhaps we can make Sean’s spelling a research topic : a way of unpacking the importance of research precision. My PROPER English spelling can be used for “compare and contrast” A level playing field 🙂

  4. mm Harry Fritzenschaft says:

    Digby,
    Wow, another amazing post I really did not understand! I thought I understood, actually agreed and appreciated Huizing’s, “…we would expect that the Christian approach to leadership will be unique to the character of the Godhead, from which Christian leadership draws its vision.” However, now I am not at all sure. Thanks, Digby!

    • Digby Wilkinson says:

      Apologies, Harry. I just couldn’t get past the definition of terms, so I chose to unpacked my confusion. I’m a sad soul. I’ll owe you in London 🙂

  5. mm Mary Mims says:

    Digby, fascinating post! I was wondering if it would make a difference if it was Leadership Theology verse Theology of Leadership? I was thinking of this because when I think of Liberation Theology, it seems to be defined as the study of God as a liberator of the oppressed. So I was thinking if it was Leadership Theology, it would be the study of how God leads and teaches us to be leaders. Just a thought. By the way, my vote is for Hegetology, only by process of elimination.

  6. Digby Wilkinson says:

    Hi Mary. The problem with ill defined nomenclature is that our communities find themselves unnecessarily at conflict with each other. The problem with liberation theology is that it focuses so specifically on one aspect our our shared Christian theology that it politicizes theology to context alone. Liberation is an aspect of the Godhead, not the actual Godhead. Likewise, contextual theology does the same thing – it harnesses aspects of God’s nature to achieve a certain end, including mission. However it can limit communities to reactionary belief systems pragmatically associated with a need, while the larger canvas of God’s nature is left untouched. Christian leadership practice is contextual, but it i think it needs to draw from a larger common theology surrounding the nature of God expressed more fully in Christ. Hegetology is easier to spell.

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