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Alister McGrath delivers Theological Lecture 2022

Theology is the means “to be able to sustain the vision at the heart of the Christian faith”.

So declared renowned theologian Alister McGrath, addressing a sold–out audience at Queen’s University, during the 64th Annual Theological Lecture, on Monday, 4th April, at Riddel Hall.

Currently the Andreos Idreos Professor of Science and Religion at Oxford University, McGrath had accepted the invitation of the Church of Ireland & Methodist Chaplaincy Belfast, supported by the Church of Ireland Board of Education (Northern Ireland) to speak on the topic, ‘Theology: Why it matters to the academy and the churches’.

Professor McGrath then engaged the rapt audience in a lively Q&A, fielding questions from secondary school pupils, university students, academics and clergy alike.

He claimed theology was vital to the secular academy, in particular to understand the impact of Christian thinking on wider society: ‘Theology offers a public statement as to what Christianity is all about.’ Citing his fellow Ulsterman CS Lewis, he also sought to place theology at the heart of Christian ministry: ‘Theology is like a map … Doctrines are not God: they are only a kind of map. But that map is based on the experience of hundreds of people who really are in touch with God.’

Along the way, we heard quotations from thinkers as diverse as Albert Einstein, Rowan Williams, George Herbert, and Michael Mayne as Professor McGrath drew on decades of learning and study to make his case.

Commenting afterwards, Queen’s Pro–Vice–Chancellor, Professor Nola Hewitt–Dundas, noted that she struggled to think of an event where a guest lecturer not only held an audience so closely as they spoke, but where the Q&A afterwards could have gone on for much longer.

Dr Peter Hamill, Secretary to the Board of Education (Northern Ireland), added: “The Board is delighted to support such an interesting and yet challenging event and looks forward to many more in the future.”

The lecture can be viewed on YouTube at the following link:

The Annual Theological Lecture at Queen’s

Since 1957, the Church of Ireland have invited leading thinkers to discuss and explore questions of theology in the public square in this popular lecture series. Previous lecturers have included Stephen Neill, Michael Ramsey, Elaine Storkey, Michael Green, Katharine Hayhoe, N.T. Wright, Justin Welby, John Sentamu and David Wilkinson amongst many others.  You can watch and listen to recordings of lectures from recent years on our archive page.

A photo gallery is also available here.

The Board of Education (Northern Ireland) represents the Church of Ireland in all educational matters affecting Northern Ireland and nominates representatives of the Church to any education body as required, including the Transferor Representatives’ Council, the Education Authority, and the Controlled Schools’ Support Council.

Dr Peter Hamill

Secretary, Board of Education (NI)
028 9082 8860


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