Jack Cunningham

A Theatrical Theological Treat!

Lincoln’s own Dr. Jack Cunningham was on fine form as he addressed the May meeting of the Lincoln Theological Society. There were over a hundred people, gathered in the Bishop Grosseteste University lecture hall, to hear him speak on the topic, ‘The Reformation: A Possible Biblical Solution’. Dr. Cunningham began his talk by explaining that it marked a return to the theme of his PhD thesis; perhaps, he mused, an odd choice for a Roman Catholic. It certainly proved an interesting mix.

With his characteristic and contagious enthusiasm, he romped through the Old Testament drawing out two different ways of thinking about the ‘Fear of the Lord’ in the literature he addressed. The first, centred around the law and God’s justice; the second, around God’s holiness. Having persuasively built his argument, he applied the two contrasting notions to the theology and political motivations at play in the Reformation. The audience was treated to perspectives from Luther, Zwingli, medieval relic rustlers, and even Wind in the Willows.

Throughout the lecture, Dr. Cunningham paced around with exuberant energy, underlining particularly important points with flamboyant hand (or rather arm) gestures. The audience were captivated, not just by the delivery, but the content. He made the serious subject of our relationship with the divine not just accessible, but entertaining. If the success of a lecture can be measured at all, it is in the number and quality of the questions; they were numerous, and proved people had been engaging seriously with the subject.

Dr. Cunningham’s other academic interests include the 13th century philosopher, theologian, scientist, (and if it has anything to do with Dr. Cunningham, soon to be saint), Robert Grosseteste. If he applies the same energy to his campaign for the canonisation of our former bishop, I think we can expect a visit from the Pope in the very near future!

The Revd Dr Sally Myers