The initial vision for The Paideia Centre for Public Theology was developed by Craig Bartholomew. Early on a steering committee was set up which led to our legal establishment in 2008 and receiving charitable status in 2009. Paideia is governed by a Board of Directors and over the years they have done indispensable work in the development of the Centre. From the outset the vision of Paideia has been clear: to retrieve, renew and advance the Kuyperian tradition. We love to quote Lesslie Newbigin’s notion that Christ is the clue to all that is, and the Centre is about pursuing that clue with all the rigor we can muster. To pursue this vision we have stressed from the start the importance of developing community rooted in a deep spirituality.
Since then we have worked hard to develop the infrastructure of Paideia and have organized a surprising number of events and conferences, developed a monthly seminar, hosted visiting scholars, and most recently hosted our first university students’ day.
With British and Foreign Bible Society, Craig established The Scripture and Hermeneutics Seminar back in 1998 while he was Senior Research Fellow at the University of Gloucestershire in the UK. Several years ago Craig moved to take up the H Evan Runner chair in philosophy at Redeemer University College where he is also Professor of Religion and Theology. Soon after The Paideia Centre was established, The Seminar became part of it and continues to be one of our flagship projects, having published nine volumes. British and Foreign Bible Society remains our partner in this project.
The goal of The Seminar is to help renew biblical interpretation in our day so that it complements and funds the work of the church rather than, as is often the case, subverts it. In our early years Paideia has focused particularly on the areas of philosophy, theology and biblical studies and will continue to do this for the foreseeable future.
Paideia does not itself award degrees but Craig Bartholomew and Michael Goheen, our Fellow in missiology, are adjunct faculty at Trinity College, Bristol, another of our partners, and thus they are able to supervise students through Trinity for the University of Bristol PhD. Two of Craig’s students have graduated and we have eight more in the process at present. A wide range of topics are covered including covenantal bioethics, the stranger in Deuteronomy, wisdom in Augustine, public theology in South Africa and the spirituality of Thomas Merton.
Another of our partners is Redeemer University College and we are delighted that Paideia House is on their property at 713 Garner Rd E. We rent the house from Redeemer and continue to cooperate with them in several ventures. In 2012 Paideia House was refurbished through the creative endeavors of Rachel de Boer and her team of workers. When you enter Paideia House nowadays you look straight into our chapel, a deliberate design to evoke, architecturally, what we are about. During this time Martha Maris has been appointed as administrative assistant and David Beldman as Director of Research. As you will see from other parts of our website we have Fellows in multiple disciplines associated with Paideia, as well as visiting scholars.
Since 2010, Paideia has hosted an annual “Paideia Gathers” weekend somewhere in North America. In 2010 we met amidst a snowstorm in Port Colborne at Jericho House, a wonderful, just-established Catholic retreat centre. In 2011 we worked with PCA churches in Chattanooga to host a wonderful event there. In 2012 we will meet in Bozeman, Montana in partnership with the Bridger Community and Yellowstone Theological Institute.
The potential of Paideia continues to grow in so many ways. Our international network is already significant and relationally rich. In addition, our local community is strong and supportive. As we develop these connections, much of our story continues to be written. The best is yet to come!