The Virtue of Docility in Global Theological Conversation


The past century has witnessed a dramatic shift in the global center of the church.  While the church in the majority world is growing and maturing, the church in the West is in steep decline.   Yet, even in the midst of this shift, to what degree is the Western church listening to the voices of the global south and east?  This paper explores the importance of educating for virtue, in particular the virtue of docility, and its role in fostering healthy conversation in the church today.  The primary mark of docility is a readiness and willingness to be taught.  Thomas Aquinas considers docility to be the foundation of all other virtues and the foundation of our development as rational beings.  Michael Barber believes that “one of the key tasks of moral education involves converting the child’s originary docility into a lasting virtue.”  Jonathan Edwards suggests that our growth in virtue is nothing less than our participation in the divine life, which results in a deepening love for God and love for neighbor.   This paper seeks to understand virtue from a theological perspective and consider the implications in teaching, pastoral theology and mission.


Dr. Thomas Kimber
Senior Lecturer in Missional & Pastoral Theology
Melbourne School of Theology

Dr Thomas Kimber has recently been appointed as a lecturer in Missional and Pastoral Theology at MST. Tom and his wife, Sue, have moved all the way from the USA to call Australia home. The couple has served in ministry together for more than 30 years, in teaching, pastoring, writing and mentoring capacities. Tom and Sue served as missionaries in Asia for many years before returning to the U. S. in 2006, where they both served at Biola University. They have been married for more than 30 years and have a son, Thomas. Tom holds both M. Div. and PhD degrees from Talbot School of Theology. Tom’s areas of research interest include the integration of spiritual formation in missiology and pastoral theology.