ISCAST Victoria Symposium: Exploring Theological Approaches to Wicked Problems

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Saturday 7th Sep 2019 @ 8:30 am


East Camberwell Baptist Church, cnr Hunter and Highfield Roads, Camberwell.

ISCAST Vic Symposium: 7 September 2019

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It’s not as Simple as That: Exploring Theological Approaches
to Wicked Problems

Scroll down to see the day’s program
or download a pdf here

Some problems are so complex that you have to be highly intelligent and well informed just to be undecided about them.”   Laurence J. Peter

“Wicked problems are the only ones worth tackling!” Anon


ISCAST Victoria is hosting a symposium to explore how Christians can get involved in dealing with the incredibly complex problems we are facing in society today. Refugee resettlement, climate change, the global loss of biodiversity, Aboriginal health, family violence, and economic development are examples of some of these and for which there are no simple, straightforward solutions.

Such problems typically feature incomplete data or scientific knowledge, significantly differing perspectives and priorities from those affected, and are (or are becoming) urgent so we cannot ignore them in the hope that they might go away. These are sometimes called “wicked” not because they are inherently evil but because they are so difficult to deal with.

These problems are also “whole-of-society” and not just problems for Christians to face and resolve in isolation. This poses challenges to us as Christians:

  • To what extent should we get involved in resolving them? “Isn’t that why we elect our government—to make these decisions? Shouldn’t Christians rely on God to sort them out?”
  • What value is there in doing the little we can do if we are not contributing to solving the problem? “Often tinkering at the edges might only make things worse.”
  • How should our Christian insights be offered to a society that is increasingly suspicious of anything branded as “Christian” and which itself is struggling with the issues in its own way?
  • Is there an overarching theological understanding we can adopt to offer us guidance in getting involved (particularly in our professional capacities); an understanding that will help us both to keep our perspective (and maintain our hope in Christ) in the face of the apparent futility, while at the same time being persuaded of the urgency of the problems concerned and that inaction is not an option?

The symposium will be held at East Camberwell Baptist Church, on the corner of Hunter and Highfield Roads, Camberwell, on 7 September 2019. It will start at 9:00am and we will aim to finish at 4:00pm. Lunch and morning tea will be provided.

If you feel you have something to share on the day, particularly related to the dot points above, please let us know according to the Submission Guidelines below.

Note that the audience on the day will be fellow ISCASTians and friends of ISCAST who may not be familiar with your subject material. Please do not to assume too much technical knowledge in your presentation. Also, we are looking to explore how Christians can and should be involved in such issues and how we can support each other in so doing. We are not looking for proposals to resolve particular issues nor for arguments as to which issues should take priority.

Download the FAQ here 



East Camberwell Baptist Church, cnr Hunter and Highfield Roads, Camberwell.


8:30 Registration
9:00: Opening and Welcome Murray Hogg
9:15: Wicked Problems: A personal and painful journey. Richard Gijsbers
9:45 Plenary Session (Interactive):- Bushfires in Victoria, a worked example Andrew Wilson
10:45 Morning Tea
Parallel Sessions
11:10 Session 1

Chair: Philippa Thomson



Not Enough Butter, Too Much Bread: Challenges in Resource Allocation.
Michael Smith
Wicked Problems, Wickedness and Wisdom: A Theology for the Anthropocene: Mick Pope
11:50 Session 2
The Pastoral Care for those Engaging in Wicked problems: Murray Hogg Wicked problems are Hindered by Anti-Science Thinking: John Pilbrow
12:30 Lunch
1:10 Session 3
The Roll out of Modern Communications Technologies as a Wicked problem: What a Christian Perspective Can Add to Help Find Workable Solutions: Andrew Wood Unscrambling Wicked problems, Theologically and Practically: Bill Walker
  1:50 Plenary Sessions:

  • Christians working with Wicked Problems: Being as Wise as Serpents…

Peter and Sue Clout

  • Theological Reflections on Wicked Problems: Going Beyond Personal Piety and Towards Understanding
Charles Sherlock
3:00 Tea break
  3:10 Pulling the threads together: What Should We Then Do? Do Christians have anything to offer a secular society and how should we offer it? Alan Gijsbers
  3:50 Wrap Up, Goodbye and Close Murray Hogg