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  • Revd. Luke Foster

Finish line ahead!

As I write this blog post I am just over a week away from the viva for my PhD. I am told that a viva can feel like a tutorial, job interview, and exam all rolled into one - and by the time you read this I will most likely know if I have passed.

When I get on the train to Durham next week it will feel like the final stage of a long journey that began four and a half years ago. Throughout that time I have been so thankful for the way in which the Latimer Trust have supported me in this journey and made this project possible.

The idea for my PhD project took shape while I was teaching at the Centre for Pastoral Studies in Santiago the capital of Chile. The Centre for Pastoral Studies (CEP) is an Anglican training college that seeks to equip men and women for Christian leadership, and I was keen to learn more about the cultural and religious context in which our students would serve.

I began to read the work of Gustavo Gutiérrez, a Peruvian Roman Catholic priest, who is seen as one of the founders of what has been called ‘liberation theology.’ This movement has been hugely influential in South America and around the world as Christians explore issues like justice, poverty, and the mission of the church. What really struck me was a question that Gutiérrez repeats throughout his work: ‘How do we speak of God as Father in a world that is inhumane?’ At the heart of his theology then is the question of what it is to be human and how we can come to know God in Jesus. My project explores the way in which Gutiérrez asks and answers these crucial questions. I have sought to listen to him carefully so that I might respond in a way that is both relevant and biblically robust.

As I come to the last stage of this project, the final text of my thesis only really expresses a fraction of what I have learned. A PhD is about so much more than the ninety or so thousand words that are handed in at the end of the process. My faith has been deepened and my understanding of God’s word has been sharpened. So I would encourage anyone involved in this kind of project to be in touch with the Latimer Trust for advice and support. The Latimer Trust provides research grants – particularly for projects in the areas of Christian Doctrine and Historical Theology, with an emphasis on the practical benefits for today's church.

Like so many countries, Chile has faced social and cultural changes over the last few years that have left Christians unsettled and church leaders bewildered. It is so important for us to help Christians understand these changes - and understand how the unchanging message of the gospel can be shared faithfully and clearly in this changing cultural context. The mission of the Latimer Trust is to provide ‘Biblical Truth for today's Anglican Church.’ I have been so thankful for the way in which the Latimer Trust has been part of my research project – and look forward to reading and being blessed by the work the Latimer Trust makes possible in the years to come.

To check out the Latimer Grants click here.


Revd. Luke Foster has spent the past eight years serving with Crosslinks as a missionary in the Centre for Pastoral Studies (CEP), an Anglican training college in Chile’s capital city Santiago. Luke is now based in London and works with the Cornhill Training Course. He is in the (hopefully!) final stages of a PHD at Durham university.



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