18 March 2022

Engage Breakfast with Dr Myk Habets

At our Engage breakfast in February we heard from Dr Myk Habets, from the School of Theology. Myk has published extensively on Spirit Christology and a theological movement called Third Article Theology—or TAT—which simply means to do theology by starting with questions about the Spirit and going from there. Myk is working on a revised and expanded edition of a book he wrote a decade ago on Spirit Christology (The Anointed Son) and he spoke with us about some of these additions.

The work of the Spirit in the world always takes the form of embodied action – the Spirit works in and amongst people, created media, and the physical realm. The Work of the Spirit is tangible and affective, it is experienced and as such it is objective in the sense that we are not asked to simply reflect on our experiences of God, but on the God of our experiences. To develop this biblical idea, Myk spoke about ways in which Pastoral leadership might benefit from a TAT that has a focus on the work of the Spirit.

Using a theory of knowing called Critical Realism, Myk explained how in all areas of human knowing, religion notwithstanding, we move from the level of experience to the level of the actual—where explanations for phenomena are offered, and from there we move to the higher level of the real. At the level of the real, the causal mechanisms behind and driving the actual are identified, so that at the level of the actual, these might be applied to life and work, and then at the lowest level, experienced.

As one example he mentioned pastoral leadership. What is it for? What are its goals? What does it seek to achieve? What does it look like? Feel like? And so forth. Being able to answer these questions means knowing what we are called to do, and then working out how we are to do that. And that means moving from the level of experience, phenomena, and pragmatics, to the level of the actual. At this level we ask what conditions are required for worship to happen, for discipleship to be effective, for maturity in believers to grow, and so on. And to resource the level of what actually happens, we have to know at the level of the real what generates these conditions.  For true worship to happen, for instance, Jesus Christ needs to be the one mediator between God and humanity, Christ clothed with the Gospel, and acting as our great high priest. We take that theology back to the real and work out how to put Christ in front of people. Then at the lowest level we experience the presence of Christ our mediator who is our great worship masters, as Hebrews calls him.

Myk gave a number of other examples of what this might look like for the pastoral leader’s personal life and for their ministry practices, and what it might look like for congregational habits and private practices.

Myk concluded by saying he is not a pastoral theology guru and certainly does not have all the answers, but his work as a theologian and associate pastor (at Albany Baptist Church with his wife who is the senior pastor), does resource pastoral leadership as theologians’ jobs are, in part, to serve and work alongside church leaders in the service of God and congregants. Myk hopes that others will catch a vision for the practical nature of theology and the ways in which it resources pastoral leadership.