An Ecumenical First For the John Paul II Institute for Marriage and the Family: Lutheran Pastor and Theologian appointed as Full time Lecturer

The Dean of the John Paul II Institute for Marriage and Family in Melbourne, Dr Tracey Rowland (author of the new book Ratzinger’s Faith), has made the following announcement:

The Institute is pleased to announce the appointment of a new senior lecturer in Patristics, Rev Dr Adam Cooper. He is the author of two books and numerous scholarly essays on patristic and incarnational theology in such journals as First Things, Communio, and Vigiliae Christianae. His doctoral research, undertaken at the University of Durham (2002), was on deification in the Greek Fathers, issuing in the publication of his first book, The Body in St Maximus the Confessor: Holy Flesh, Wholly Deified (OUP, 2005). Adam’s second book, Life in the Flesh: An Anti-Gnostic Spiritual Philosophy (OUP, 2008), investigates the nature of bodily life in light of numerous contemporary issues, including biotechnology, sexuality, pornography, contraception, and abortion.

What the announcement doesn’t say is that Dr Cooper is a pastor of the Lutheran Church of Australia. This is the first time that a non-Catholic theologian has been appointed to a full time lectureship in international John Paul II Institute. It is an appointment of great ecumenical significance.

The President of the Lutheran Church of Australia (Victoria and Tasmania District) has announced that:

[Lutheran pastor, Rev. Dr.] Adam Cooper is accepting an offer of a three-year full-time senior lectureship at the John Paul II Institute for Marriage and Family in Melbourne. He will be lecturing in bible, philosophy, early church history and moral theology. The JP II Institute comes under the oversight of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne. Adam will be seeking leave of absence for his term of service there. Adam will leave St John’s around the end of May.

Dr Cooper will take up his appointment at the beginning of June, 2008.

Sentire Cum Ecclesia wishes Adam all the very best for this new step along the journey.

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2 Responses to An Ecumenical First For the John Paul II Institute for Marriage and the Family: Lutheran Pastor and Theologian appointed as Full time Lecturer

  1. Joshua says:


    I assume that you know Dr Cooper – for the benefit of readers, could you give us some background on this learned man, his views and insights, his no doubt kindly and pleasant nature?

    I must some time get back to the JPII Institute (known fondly as “The Birds and Bees”) to finish my studies there, and I think I would be most glad to study patristics &c. under such a lecturer.

  2. Schütz says:

    Yes, Joshua, he is indeed both a “kindly and learned man”. One of his JPII students said to me recently “He’s lovely”. It was said in a certain way that left no doubt that she admired him…

    Adam was a year nine student when I was at college with him and his older brother (who was in my year 12 English Class) but I only got to know both brothers later after they had both (somewhat surprisingly) entered the Lutheran ministry.

    I was privileged to become reaquainted with Adam in the year 1999 when, together with myself and the venerable Lutheran Pastor of Bendigo Fraser Pearce (see my side bar for a link to his blog “Epistolae Obsurorum Virorum”), formed a small group that met weekly to read the gospel for the coming Sunday in Latin.

    It was at these meetings that these two reverend gentlemen gently but surely challenged my very faulty ecclesiological assumptions. This challenge set me, in the year 2000, on the Road to Rome, which you can read more about in my Year of Grace blog (also see sidebar for the link).

    Looking over my Year of Grace blog, I see that I have said almost nothing about this Latin reading group. Later, when Adam left for Durham to do his doctoral studies, Fraser and I invited Pastor Peter Holmes (now working for Catholic Adult Education Centre in Sydney, see side bar for a link to his blog “With a grain of salt”) to fill the vacancy.

    Since returning from Durham, Adam has been pastor of the Geelong Lutheran Church and has won respect in both the Lutheran and Catholic communities, and among his own academic peers.

    He is, as Tracey Rowland herself has said, a “world class” theologian. And yes, his specialty is in the theology of the “birds and the bees” if you want to put it that way!

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