(Living Church) An interview with Jeremy Begbie

Many people first see Jeremy Begbie at a distance, onstage with a grand piano. He sits on a piano stool, leans forward with a lover’s total attention, and plays four bars of anything from Chopin to Boulez. Then he leaps up, leaving the audience musically bereaved and longing for the piece to go on (unless it’s Boulez). From the half-finished music, Begbie carries the audience’s attention straight into theology. (Usually, later in the presentation, he will also play a piece all the way through.)

Begbie studied music and philosophy in his native Edinburgh, but after finding faith in Christ he shifted his energies into theology, which he studied at Aberdeen and Cambridge. He was ordained by the Church of England and served in a West London parish until he was appointed to teach systematic theology at Ridley Hall, Cambridge. His books focus on the interplay between theology and the arts, and especially music: Voicing Creation’s Praise: Towards a Theology of the Arts (2000), Theology, Music and Time (2000), and most recently Resounding Truth: Christian Wisdom in the World of Music (2007), which won the Christianity Today 2008 Book Award in the theology and ethics category. He has started arts and theology initiatives at both St. Andrews and at Duke (where he currently spends spring semesters). Nonetheless, he still sees himself as a systematic theologian rather than an “arts theologian.”

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