Whistling in the Dark: APU Theology Conference Honors Professor Craig Keen

by Evan R. Cain

Azusa Pacific University's School of Theology hosts this year’s theology conference, Whistling in the Dark: Conversations on the Theology of Craig Keen, on Monday, April 3 and Tuesday, April 4, 2017. Every two years, the School of Theology invites renowned theologians and church historians to speak on APU’s campus. This year’s conference accomplishes two goals: honoring the work of Craig Keen, Ph.D., award-winning professor in the Department of Theology, and hosting theologians Stanley Hauerwas and John Caputo, joining Keen to discuss his theology and legacy. Keen retires this year after 40 years in academia.

“The extensive scholarly histories of Keen, Hauerwas, and Caputo speak to myriad topics including the use of coercive force, care for the poor and oppressed, and the church as a serving community,” said Jacquelyn Winston, Ph.D., chair and professor in the Department of Theology. “Each of these theological interchanges shares the expectation that even where the Church may fail we find redemption in Christ.”

Cascade Press will release Whistling in the Dark: Of the Theology of Craig Keen in July 2017, which includes essays from Hauerwas and Caputo. Conference attendees can purchase the book online at a 20 percent discount.

Here, Keen shares his thoughts on the conference.

How will the Whistling in the Dark conference highlight your legacy and impact on APU's School of Theology and the field of theology in general?

The legacies that count are realized by the mysterious work of God. As such, they are not manageable or foreseeable. I am quite happy leaving my immortality—of whatever kind—to providence. I hope that the event will help carry the importance of theology to the thoughtful human beings who populate APU. The Theology Department is made up of passionate and intentional people who seek to serve our community. It is my hope that as an institution we might begin to seek the views of our theologians more frequently.

What will John Caputo and Stanley Hauerwas bring to the table as venerated contemporary scholars?

Caputo and Hauerwas are my friends. They are among the most respected and competent theologians and philosophers in America. I can't think of two other people who I would prefer to have beside me at this event. They are very different theologically, yet are both generous, kind, and eloquent. They have never been on the same panel together and I expect their interaction to be delightfully stimulating. As different as they are, I resonate with them both to an extraordinary degree. All of us share the theological conviction of justice for the poor, oppressed, and marginalized. The manner in which they find common ground will be complex and fascinating.

The theological issues to be discussed are captured by Caputo's statement, “Theology’s promise is that something comes after crucifixion.” How is this phrase reflected in your life and work?

"After crucifixion" is an ambiguous phrase in my work. It points to the reversal of crucifixion in the resurrection and views crucifixion as a place where following Jesus may lead us. No matter how far we fall, the crucified Jesus has fallen further and is ready to catch us. After catching us, He prepares us to work with Him in catching others. The hope of the world is not the restoration of a golden age but, more specifically, an embrace of the old through the newness of an abundant life only possible because of the resurrection.

Visit the event webpage for more detail and to register. Tickets will also be available at the door.

Evan R. Cain '18 is a senior public relations intern in the Office of University Relations. He is a biblical studies and humanities major in the Honors College.