Category Archives: Religion and Theology

Richard L. Greaves Award Honourable Mention for Tim Cooper’s book: John Owen, Richard Baxter and the Formation of Nonconformity

Posted by Bethany Whalley, Marketing Executive

The Nonconformist church leader and theologian, John Owen (1616-1683), and the Puritan church leader, poet and theologian Richard Baxter (1615-1691) had much in common, but their differing experiences of the English Civil War drew them into a long debate fuelled by mutual dislike.

Author Tim Cooper uses this relationship in his book John Owen, Richard Baxter and the Formation of Nonconformity (Ashgate, 2011) to explore the shaping of nonconformity during the Restoration. He makes the argument that individual experience and fraught private relationships had the power to determine the future of much wider movements – and sometimes hamper their progress.

John Owen Richard Baxter and the formation of nonconformityThe book recently received an ‘Honourable Mention’ in the Richard L. Greaves Award 2013, awarded by the International John Bunyan Society for an outstanding book-length work of scholarship devoted to the history, literature, thought, practices and legacy of Anglophone Protestantism to 1700.

‘This is a dramatic and highly readable account of a poisonous feud between two thin-skinned giants of evangelical protestantism. This dual study not only gives us many new insights into the beliefs and actions of Baxter and Owen but (without taking sides) significantly deepens our understanding of the stress fractures within puritanism that led to the defeat of its hopes and expectations.’   John Morrill, University of Cambridge, UK

Tim CooperAbout the Author: Tim Cooper is Senior Lecturer in the History of Christianity in the Department of Theology and Religion at the University of Otago, New Zealand.

More about the Richard L. Greaves Award

More about John Owen, Richard Baxter and the Formation of Nonconformity

Ashgate Studies in Evangelicalism – a call for proposals

David Ceri JonesThis is a guest post from David Ceri Jones, Aberystwyth University

It with great pleasure and excitement that I can announce the launch of the ‘Ashgate Studies in Evangelicalism’, a brand new academic monograph series, to be edited by Andrew Atherstone (Wycliffe Hall, Oxford) and myself.

Our vision for the series is that it will quickly become the natural home for monographs and other works on every aspect of the history and theology of the global evangelical movement from its beginnings in the 1730s until the present day. The first two volumes which will launch the series are already commissioned. There will an Ashgate Research Companion on the History of Evangelicalism, containing over twenty chapters covering most aspects of the evangelical movement, summarising existing research, and flagging up those areas where the light of serious historical research has yet to shine. It will hopefully be a book that summarises the current state of the discipline.

A first monograph has also been accepted for publication. More details of that book will follow in due course.

So if you have a recently completely doctoral thesis, or a completed manuscript of a work on any aspect of the history or theology of the global evangelical movement then please get in touch.

Further details of the series can be found on the Ashgate webpage, here:

Visit David Ceri’s blog

Visit Andrew Atherstone’s blog

Ashgate launches new book series — Contemporary Theological Explorations in Christian Mysticism

Posted by Luana Life, Marketing Co-ordinator

The first 2 books in the Contemporary Theological Explorations in Christian Mysticism series, Exploring Lost Dimensions in Christian Mysticism and Christian Mysticism and Incarnational Theology, are now available! Both titles are edited by Louise Nelstrop and Simon D. Podmore.

Christian Mysticism and Incarnational Theology  Exploring Lost Dimensions

Series co-editor, Patricia Z. Beckman, has this to say about the series:

“We’re seeing a phenomenal rise in interest in Christian mysticism in our time. Perhaps it isn’t exaggerating to say this may be the most widespread interest since other peak episodes in Christian history like the European medieval or Eastern early periods. Why?

Christians are hungry for direct experience, full embodied commitment to a God of fierce beauty and love. They’re eager to engage in deep study and devotional practices to further that relationship with God. And they realize that this mystical element has always been a part of their traditions—Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Protestant, alike. So in a sense, the increased interest in mysticism mirrors much mystical teaching itself—through it people seek to experience what has always been there, freely offered.

I hope this series will connect people with the breadth and depth of Christian mysticism so that they can fully engage the transformation of an integrated Christian life. I hope they will meet mystery here. This is recovery of important historical moments, theoretical insights, and even newly discovered figures, but importantly, it is also new application to contemporary life, all with expert guides who have immersed themselves in the rich traditions of Christian mysticism. It is very good scholarship attuned to real human needs and desires. As such, the series too mirrors and aspires to the very mysticism it engages.”

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Interested in learning more? Visit the Contemporary Theological Explorations in Christian Mysticism series page.

Interested in submitting a book proposal? Visit www.ashgate.com/authors

A new title in the Ashgate Methodist Studies series: Methodists and their Missionary Societies 1760-1900 by John Pritchard

‘There has long been a need for a concise and comprehensive account of British Methodism’s engagement in world mission. John Pritchard’s volume admirably meets that need and will be essential reading for any student of Methodism.’   Brian E Beck, former President and Secretary of the Methodist Conference

Methodists and their Missionary Societies 1760-1900, together with a companion volume on the 20th century, offers an account of the overseas mission activity of British and Irish Methodists, its roots and fruits.  Pritchard explores many aspects of mission, ranging from Labrador to New Zealand, from open air preaching to political engagement, from the isolation of early pioneers to the creation of self-governing churches. Tracing the nineteenth-century missionary work of the Churches with Wesleyan roots which went on to unite in 1932, Pritchard explores the shifting theologies and attitudes of missionaries who crossed cultural and geographical frontiers as well as those at home who sent and supported them.

Available in Hardback edition for £60

Get 20% discount when you enter the code C13HPW20 in the box marked Promotional Code in stage one of the basket at www.ashgate.com Valid until 31st October 2013.

About the Author: John Pritchard was the General Secretary, Methodist Church Overseas Division (MMS) from 1991 to 1996, having previously served as its Africa Secretary. He had been a missionary with the Methodist Church in Cote d’Ivoire – then a District of the British Methodist Conference – from 1966 to 1975, and was Secretary of the committee which drafted its constitution as an autonomous Church. In the 1970s he edited Urban Africa, a quarterly magazine published by the All Africa Conference of Churches. He chaired the interdenominational Friends of the Church in China for six years from 2000 and convened the Methodist Missionary History Project from its inception in 1994.

More about the Ashgate Methodist Studies series

Interested in publishing your research in pilgrimage studies?

Posted by Luana Life, Marketing Coordinator

We are seeking book proposals for two new series!

Once relatively neglected, pilgrimage has become an increasingly prominent topic of study over the last few decades. Its study is inevitably inter-disciplinary, and extends across a growing range of scholarly fields, including religion, anthropology, geography, history, literary studies, art history, archaeology, sociology, heritage and tourism studies. This process shows no sign of abating—indeed, it looks set to continue to expand. Our series comprise:

Ashgate Studies in Pilgrimage

This new series seeks to expand scholarly conversations in pilgrimage, including themes as diverse as pilgrimage within national and post-national frames, pilgrimage-writing, materialities of pilgrimage, digi-pilgrimage and secular pilgrimage.

Series Editors: Simon Coleman, University of Toronto, Canada; Dee Dyas, University of York, UK; John Eade, University of Roehampton UK and University College London, UK; and Jas’ Elsner, University of Oxford and Unviersity of Chicago

Compostela International Studies in Pilgrimage History and Culture

This series deals with the universal phenomenon of pilgrimage, understood in a wide sense, making available the latest research sponsored by the IEGPS. It focuses on historical, cultural, political and religious aspects of the subject, prioritizing multidisciplinary and diverse approaches and analyses, with volumes covering historical periods from the medieval to the modern and a world-wide geographical range.

Series Editor: Antón M. Pazos, IEGPS, Santiago de Compostela, Spain

To learn more about these series, please visit the series pages on our website:

Ashgate Studies in Pilgrimage

Compostela International Studies in Pilgrimage History and Culture

Stories from the Street: A theology of homelessness – on Facebook

Stories from the Street by David Nixon has its own Facebook page, with information on the launch for the book taking place in Exeter on the 8th April. Why not take a look?

nixon_gen 55 cover.QXD_stories from the streetStories from the Street is a theological exploration of interviews with men and women who have experienced homelessness at some stage in their lives. David Nixon suggests that stories are not only a vehicle for creating human transformation but one of God’s chosen means of effecting change. Short biographies of twelve characters are examined under themes including: crises in health and relationships, self-harm and suicide, anger and pain, God and the Bible.

Expanding the existing literature of contextual theology, this book provides an alternative focus to a church-shaped mission by advocating with, and for, a very marginal group; suggesting that their experiences have much to teach the church. Churches are perceived as being active in terms of pastoral work, but reluctant to ask more profound questions about why homelessness exists at all. A theology of homelessness suggests not just a God of the homeless, but a homeless God, who shares stories and provides hope.

About the Author: Revd Dr David Nixon is an Anglican Parish Priest in Plymouth. His interest in social exclusion/inclusion began during a curacy in the same city, working with charities and local organisations concerned with housing, homelessness and community development. As a part-time research fellow at Exeter University, he also worked with the No Outsiders research team investigating education and sexualities in primary schools, and has published widely in academic journals in this area.

Reviews:

‘For any person, homelessness is complex and never a single issue. David Nixon has listened and analysed people’s stories and made good sense from them. His wise and insightful use of their stories and his analysis is the best sort of Practical Theology from which we can all learn.  It will help Christians meet and respond to the needs of homeless people.’ Rt Revd Nicholas Holtam, Bishop of Salisbury, UK

‘This is a fascinating and important study.  It is an exercise in listening to the voices of those who are rarely heard.  Written with clarity and elegance, it is a life-changing exploration of the narratives of faith and the journey of life.  This is a pioneering text, which will interest American scholars who are seeking to connect a liberationist perspective with the journeys of those who struggle in a prosperous nation.  There is nothing quite like this remarkable book.’ Very Revd Dr Ian Markham, Virginia Theological Seminary, USA

‘What sense can Christians make of the experience of homelessness? Listening to homeless people’s stories David Nixon invites us to understand them in the light of Scripture and of the ongoing Christian call for social justice. What emerges is a chapter in British liberation theology which calls us not simply to empathise but to change the way we think about homelessness.’ Professor Tim Gorringe, University of Exeter, UK

‘Stories from the Street not only provides a fascinating insight into the lives of people who are often overlooked, but understands that they also have a contribution to make. The theological reflections should remind the Church about where its real focus lies – not just in caring for the dispossessed but in questioning why they are dispossessed in the first place.’ Ben Bradshaw, MP

Future Archbishop of Canterbury to Contribute Foreword to Ashgate Volume

The conference Towards a Theology of Church Growth is to be held on 12-13 September, at St John’s College, part of the University of Durham. A book emanating from the conference will be published by Ashgate in 2014, edited by David Goodhew and with a foreword by the Rt. Revd Justin Welby.

” The team involved in this conference have done ground-breaking work and it will be very worth the commitment to attend.”   the Rt. Revd Justin Welby

Leading figures from across the spectrum of Anglicanism will speak at the conference – including Professor Alister McGrath, Rev Dr Graham Tomlin, Miranda Threlfall-Holmes and Sr Benedicta Ward. Further key scholars – such as C. Kavin Rowe of Duke and Ashley Null of Huboldt University, Berlin will be contributing simply to the volume. The volume will provide detailed discussion of the concept of church growth, recognising where it needs nuance, but also showing how it is rooted in the Biblical texts, systematic theology and church history.

More about the book and the conference ‘Towards a Theology of Church Growth’

Church growth in BritainFollow the Centre for Chruch Growth on twitter – @CCGR_Durham

On facebook: www.facebook.com/ChurchGrowthResearch

Also edited by David Goodhew: Church Growth in Britain: 1980 to the Present

New Series launching – Intensities: Contemporary Continental Philosophy of Religion

Posted by Hattie Wilson, Marketing Executive

December sees the launch of our new series in the field of Philosophy of Religion. Intensities: Contemporary Continental Philosophy of Religion engages with radical interpretations and applications of the continental  ‘canon’ from Kant to Darrida and beyond, but there are also significant areas of departure from that tradition.

A key area of focus is the emergence of new ‘realist’ and materialist schools of thought whose potential contribution to philosophy of religion is at an early stage. Rooted in a vibrant tradition of thinking about religion, whilst positioning itself at the cutting edge of emerging agendas, this series has a clear focus on continental and post-continental philosophy of religion and complements Ashgate’s British Society for Philosophy of Religion series with its more analytic approach.

The Intensities series launches with the publication of two dual edition volumes.

The first book, appropriately named Intensities: Philosophy, Religion and the Affirmation of Life, is edited by the series editor Steven Shakespeare and Katherine Sarah Moody.  The book captures the current religious and philosophical thought and its relevance to social, cultural political and religious dilemmas about why and how to live. This book has unique arguments, which taken together means the book does not sit easily within either secular philosophical or theological approaches. It includes contributions from Pamela Sue Anderson, Brian Sudlow, John Reader, Alison Martin, John D. Caputo, Neil Turnbull, Kenneth Jason Wardley, Lorenz Moises J. Festin, Don Cupitt and Philip Goodchild.

Re-visioning Gender in Philosophy of Religion: Reason, Love and Epistemic Locatedness by Pamela Sue Anderson is the second title to launch the Intensities series. Anderson unearths the ways that the myths of Christian Patriarchy historically prohibited women from writing and thinking their own ideas, and draws out the significant threats of how gendering the philosophy of religion has been practiced in order to re-vision gender for philosophy today.

Intensities: Philosophy, Religion and the Affirmation of Life and Re-visioning Gender in Philosophy of Religion: Reason, Love and Epistemic Locatedness are both available in Hardback and Paperback editions from December.

Coming in this series in 2013: Heidegger on Death by George Pattison

About the series: Intensities: Contemporary Continental Philosophy of Religion is edited by Steven Shakespeare and Patrice Haynes, both at Liverpool Hope University. Full information about the series is available on the Ashgate website.

Religion and the News

Posted by Hattie Wilson, Marketing Executive

We live in an era where social networks and smart phones have made news reporting instantaneous and immediately accessible. In the stories that are emerging from these various mediums, religion is featuring prevalently.

In Religion and the News, edited by Jolyon Mitchell and Owen Gower, journalists and religious leaders consider their role in this rapidly evolving environment, and how religion and the media influence one another.

Each chapter has been written by those in a unique position, studying how stories emerge and develop in the public eye, the relationship between reporting and religion, and the effects of these stories upon religious communities and faith. The list of contributors (below) reads like a who’s who in the field of religious journalism and theology, proving this title is unique in its perspective of the media’s relationship with religion and the friction that is sometimes triggered.

Contributors include:

  • Jolyon Mitchell, Director of the Centre for Theology and Public Issues Edinburgh University
  • Christopher Landau, Religious Affairs Correspondent, BBC World Service
  • Andrew Brown, The Guardian
  • Professor Lord Harries of Pentregarth, former Bishop of Oxford
  • Dr Indarjit Singh, Director of the Network of Sikh Organisations
  • Rabbi Dr Jonathan Romain, Director, Jewish Information and Media Service
  • Imam Monawar Hussain, Muslim Tutor, Eton College
  • Charlie Beckett, Director, Polis
  • Ruth Gledhill, Religion Correspondent, The Times
  • Catherine Pepinster, Editor, The Tablet
  • Riazat Butt, Religious Affairs Correspondent, The Guardian
  • Professor the Worshipful Mark Hill QC, Barrister and Fellow, Centre for Law and Religion, Cardiff University.

Religion and the News is edited by Jolyon Mitchell and Owen Gower and is available in both Hardback, Paperback and ebook editions.

Here is an edited extract from the introduction to the book:

Over the last three decades the coverage of religious news in the media has radically changed: religion is no longer a ‘soft’ story. Religious issues pervade the reporting of many stories related to domestic politics and foreign affairs alike.

Following the terrorist attacks in Western cities such as New York (11 September 2001), Madrid (11 March 2004) and London (7 July 2005), as well as the invasions of Afghanistan (from October 2001) and Iraq (from March 2003), religion has increasingly broken into mainstream Western news agendas. Some scholars suggest that this process began even earlier with the Iranian Revolution (1979), the global performances of a ‘media friendly’ Pope, John Paul II (1978–2005), and the rise of the ‘religious right’ in the USA (from the late 1970s).

The cumulative result is that religion is less commonly marginalised, and is sometimes used as an interpretative key for making sense of many news stories. Even if a religious story seems self-contained, its ramifications often generate comment from unrelated parts of what is sometimes described as ‘the secular press’.

The visit of Pope Benedict XVI to the UK in 2010, for example, generated a huge amount of coverage from commentators and reporters not normally associated with religious news. Indeed, comparing the coverage of the papal visit in 1982 with the 2010 visit sheds light on the changing relationship between religion and the news: there is now more comment on the plurality of faith traditions in Britain (with a particular emphasis on Islam); the marginalisation of Christianity is a recurring theme; and the rise of ‘aggressive secularism’ has been especially notable.

While it is more likely than ever before for religion to be in the news, it is also more likely for the coverage to focus on conflict, threat and scandal. Despite many religious leaders wanting to see their faiths represented as being harmonious, reconciliatory and profoundly ethical, many news stories pick up on disharmony or highlight failings.

Why is there this contrast between what religious leaders want reported and what journalists feel is newsworthy about religions in the UK?

Many religious representatives often feel misrepresented in the press. Likewise, many journalists believe that religious people do not appreciate how the media operates: it does not exist to provide free publicity or to evangelise. On the contrary, reporters investigate, uncover and analyse, and that often leads to the coverage of stories that embarrass members of faith traditions.

This book offers a rare opportunity for journalists and faith leaders to express, to explain and to analyse their frustrations with one another, and to offer their views on how to create a more engaged relationship between religious representatives and journalists.

These perspectives are framed by analyses of the current state of reporting on religion in the UK, along with chapters on significant issues such as the law, blasphemy, violent conflict and the role of technology in shaping both beliefs and the news coverage of faith traditions. Many of the contributions to this book are characterised by the personal experiences of the writers with the interaction between religion and the news. These reflections are sometimes marked by anger or disappointment and illustrated with examples of mistreatment by one side or another.

There has been no attempt to downplay these personal sentiments or to try and develop a consistent analysis across the different voices in the book. We considered calling this book a ‘reader’, but in reflecting carefully on the range of contributions realised that it could also be called a ‘listener’. Several of the authors write more commonly for the ear than for the eye, others write more regularly for general audiences rather than specialist readers. Their distinct voices, accents and styles have been intentionally preserved, reflecting the multiplicity of ways that religion and the news are both interpreted and covered.

Listening carefully to the different voices in this book will reveal fresh ways of reflecting on both old and new arguments. The different authors found in this book disagree about fundamental issues, such as the nature of free speech, the correlation between demographics and coverage, the role of truth in journalism, whether different religions require different treatment by the press, what is wrong with religious press and public relations departments, the 24-hour news cycle, the standard of religious education among journalists and so on.

Seeing these fault-lines close-up provides a valuable insight into some of the difficulties faced by journalists as they attempt to cover news about religion and by religious leaders who are trying to articulate and to embody the beliefs and the practices of their own religious tradition. While tensions are certainly present, all contributors agree that the relationship between religion and the news can be improved. A constructive vision of the relationship between religion and the news does emerge from the contributions, but it emerges gradually, through an account of the mistakes and frustrations of the past as well as hope for a future where journalists and religious leaders have developed a clearer understanding of each other’s crafts and callings.

Owen Gower and Jolyon Mitchell

Ashgate Contemporary Ecclesiology series – proposals welcome

Ashgate’s Contemporary Ecclesiology series is edited by Martyn Percy (Ripon College Cuddesdon, Oxford), D. Thomas Hughson (Marquette University, USA) and Bruce Kaye, (Charles Sturt University, Australia).

The field of ecclesiology has grown remarkably in the last decade, and most especially in relation to the study of the contemporary church. Recently, theological attention has turned once more to the nature of the church, its practices and proclivities, and to interpretative readings and understandings on its role, function and ethos in contemporary society.

The Contemporary Ecclesiology series has a clear focus on the current situation of churches worldwide and welcomes contributions from across social science disciplines, with the aim of offering an invaluable resource for students, researchers, ministers and other interested readers around the world working or interested in the diverse areas of contemporary ecclesiology and the important changing shape of the church.

The series editors represent a range of Christian traditions (including Roman Catholic, Reformed, Anglican, Evangelical) and disciplines (sociology, empirical, theological), and this reflects the breadth and depth of books developing in the series.

Books in the series (available in paperback):

(April 2013) Society Shaped by Theology – Robin Gill, University of Kent, Canterbury

Theology Shaped by Society – Robin Gill, University of Kent, Canterbury

Church Growth in Britain – David Goodhew, Cranmer Hall, UK

Theology in a Social Context – Robin Gill, University of Kent, Canterbury

A Reader in Ecclesiology – Bryan P. Stone, Boston University School of Theology, USA

Sydney Anglicans and the Threat to World Anglicanism – Muriel Porter, University of Melbourne School of Historical and Philosophical Studies, Australia

Series Advisory Board:

Martyn Percy (Oxford, Anglican)

Tom Hughson, (Marquette, USA and a Roman Catholic theologian)

Bruce Kaye, Australia (Anglican; theologian and editor of JAS)

James Nieman, Hartford USA (Reformed; congregational studies)

Sathi Clarke, India and USA (CSI contextual theology – esp. Asian)

Gemma Simmonds CJ, London, Heythrop, (RC; contemporary ecclesiology)

Gerald West, Africa (Anglican; contextual theology)

Philip Vickeri, China and USA (Reformed; missiology and contextual theology)

Helen Cameron, Oxford, UK (Reformed/Salvationist; Empirical and Practical Theology)

Tina Beattie, London UK (RC; Ecclesiology)

Nigel Wright, London UK (Baptist; Evangelicalism)

Simon Coleman, Toronto (Anthropology; new churches)

Submitting a Book Proposal:

Book proposals are invited for student/wider readership paperback texts, research monographs and edited collections, if they fit within the series profile.

Please send your initial book proposals to either the Series Editors or the Publisher: Sarah Lloyd