• When My Work is Found Wanting: Power, intersectionality, postcolonialism, and the reflexive feminist researcher

      Llewellyn, Dawn; University of Chester (Routledge, 2021-12-31)
      Feminist research emerges out of a struggle with power. Ingrained in feminist studies of religion is the identification and dismantling of religious hierarchies and structures that disempower. Feminist scholarship has contended with the essentialist categories of ‘woman’ and ‘women’s experience’ without questioning that its rendering of ‘religion’ and ‘gender’ was premised on and benefited from its own modes of dominance and suppression, conditioned by Western colonialism. Taking up feminist research is a reflexive position that can assist in upsetting the established hierarchies of power and the binary oppositions of researcher and researched, knower and known, political and personal. However, feminist thinking in religion and gender, like the author own, has not always been reflexively attentive to its almost exclusive focus on the relationships between religion and gender and its own power as the product of Western, colonial, secular discourses.
    • Hans Frei, 1922-1988

      Fulford, Ben; University of Chester
      An overview of the life and theology of Hans W. Frei.
    • Temple, Sex, Gender and Society

      Graham, Elaine; University of Chester (Sage Publications, 2022-07-04)
      This article gives an overview of the main economic, legal and cultural changes around the role of women, debates about gender identity and patterns of marriage and the family that have taken place over the past 80 years since Christianity and Social Order was first published.
    • Giants, Gods and Goods: Toward a 'new Beveridge'

      Graham, Elaine; University of Chester (Hymns Ancient and Modern, 2022-06-29)
      Eighty years ago, on December 1 1942, the Beveridge Report, widely seen as the founding document of the post-1945 welfare state in the UK, was published. In grandiloquent terms, the report called for an attack on ‘Five Giant Evils’ – Disease, Idleness, Ignorance, Squalor and Want -- that needed to be combatted as Britain prepared for peace and post-war reconstruction. Beveridge’s recommendations captured the public mood perfectly. Having made so many sacrifices for a common cause of defeating Nazism, armed forces and civilians alike shared a determination that the peace which followed should be built for the benefit of all. That mood found expression in the post-war Labour government’s pledges to achieve full employment, universal education and a welfare state, free of the privations and anxieties of poverty, low pay or old age. Like the 1939-45 war, the global COVID-19 pandemic has exposed fundamental inadequacies in the economy, the National Health Service and social care provision. As society moves out of the worst of the pandemic, it may be time to contemplate, as did Beveridge and his contemporaries (including William Temple), what kind of future provision may be required for the future: both in redressing the longer-term stresses and shortcomings of the existing system and in ‘building back better’. Certainly, the political historian Peter Hennessey believes the ‘never again’ impulse that sprung from the 1939-45 conflict has resurfaced today, and may be harnessed to build consensus around new priorities (Hennessey). Even so, this will entail more than simple reform of the existing welfare system, for two key reasons. First, the political, economic, cultural and demographic landscape of the twenty-first century has changed. Second, any revision of welfare requires a rethinking not only of its fiscal and operational dimensions, but of the very values that underpin a ‘welfare society’ that is fit for purpose. What principles might inform any kind of reform? And in the midst of that, what is the role of faith-based social action? In this article I will approach this question by beginning with the ‘Five Giants’ of Beveridge’s report, before asking what might form the basis of a ‘new Beveridge’ for the twenty-first century. Sam Wells’ recent survey of church-related provision argues that reforms of welfare should proceed not from a ‘deficit’ model but from one of ‘assets’ and social goods. It is in their ability to articulate and embody social capital, motivated by religious and moral values, that faith-based organisations demonstrate a distinctive and decisive contribution to civil society. This calls for a renewed focus on the significance of the voluntary sector in a revitalised ‘welfare society’, alongside the State and the market, and a consideration of five new social ‘goods’ to inform policy and inspire change.
    • The Significance of Gefühl for the development of Karl Barth’s Theological Anthropology 1909–1938

      Fulford, Ben; Clough, David; Templeton, Julian B. (University of Chester, 2021-10-01)
      This dissertation employs the work of late twentieth century and early twenty-first century affect theorists as a heuristic approach to Karl Barth’s theological anthropology. In Barth’s theology, Gefühl, usually translated as ‘feeling’, is the concept most like affect. From 1909 Barth’s earliest published theological writing and his early sermons show evidence of considerable alignment with Friedrich Schleiermacher’s approach in allocating a central place to experience and affection in the reception of divine revelation. However, Barth becomes aware of the conceptual weaknesses of the modernist appeal to experience. Then, the outbreak of war and the misguided fervor with which some of his theological teachers support Germany’s military aggression contributes to Barth’s gradual loss of confidence in the entire modernist theological approach. The critical view that Barth takes of Schleiermacher’s concept of Gefühl and its relationship to revelation is pivotal to the theological anthropology that Barth begins to develop in deliberate contradistinction to that of Schleiermacher. Barth constructs a theology of faith as the dialectical witness to the objective revelation of the Word of God. Barth proposes that the missions of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit can reorientate alienated subjectivity. However, at a deeper level Barth’s description of the missions of the Trinitarian persons do not penetrate the affective centre of the human being. What Barth needs is a pneumatological description of the way in which divine activity works with the human being’s receptivity and spontaneity. In Church Dogmatics I/1 and I/2 he rehabilitates Gefühl by de-coupling it from Schleiermacher’s ‘feeling of absolute dependence’. He formally reconceptualises Gefühl as an affective self-determination in response to God’s sovereign determination. The addition of the concept of ‘analogy’ enables Barth to affirm that human self-determination participates in Christ’s self-determination through the Spirit’s outpouring. As a result, Barth can affirm that thinking, willing, and Gefühl are in no sense diminished in the person who in faith corresponds analogically to grace. In addition, reconceiving human spontaneity as a response to and participation in God’s sovereign activity makes it possible to affirm that divine activity and human spontaneity belong together and are consistent with one another. However, Barth’s recognition of Gefühl remains at the formal level with little material development. Nonetheless, at the formal level the concept of analogical participation has enabled Gefühl to be rehabilitated. Therefore, I conclude that Gefühl is significant in the development of Barth’s theological anthropology.
    • The Independent Schools Religious Studies Association Report Religion and Worldviews (Weltanschauung) June 2022 - A Personal Response

      Dossett, Wendy; University of Chester (Reforming RE, 2022-07-02)
      A personal reponse to the 2022 ISRSA statement on the 2018 proposals of the Commission for Religious Education.
    • Hebrews, Allegory, and Alexandria

      Middleton, Paul; Edwards, Owen C. (University of Chester, 2021-04-01)
      The problem this dissertation addresses is at face a simple one: in the very specific case of Hebrews 7.1-3, what interpretive move is the author using to interpret the Old Testament, when he offers a comparison between Jesus and the mysterious figure of Melchizedek? However, the answer quickly becomes complicated due to the inadequacy of our terminology, where “typology” and “allegory” – the most common interpretive moves assigned to Hebrews 7.1-3 in the scholarship – take on medieval or modern meanings rather than definitions available to the ancient authors themselves. This dissertation explores the historical background to figural and non-literal readings of sacred texts, considering in turn Greek, Jewish, and Christian readers. Each group of readers considered provides necessary context for interpretive activity in Hebrews. Greek allegorists provide the idea of a religiously or philosophically encoded text via the Homeric allegorists and their critic Plato. They also provide the actual ancient definition of the term “allegory”, as a rhetorical trope involving extended metaphor and poetic hinting by an author, which might include techniques ranging from metonymy to numerology to concept-for-concept substitution. Jewish allegorists – Aristeas, Aristobulus, and Philo – make the distinctive move to seeing a text as encoded not by a human poet like Homer or Orpheus, but by the great divine Author, God. When turning to Christian allegorists, a natural touchstone is Paul – who uses the term allegory in Galatians – but Jesus himself and (Pseudo)-Barnabas also provide very important context for distinctively Christian allegorical reading, particularly involving the Christological fulfilment of hints laid by God in the sacred history of the Old Testament (that is, “typology”). Trajectories in allegorical exegesis in early Christianity are considered, to examine the latent tendencies within the form. Finally, the definitions and understanding gained are turned to use in analysing exegesis in Hebrews, where 7.1-3 – and several other texts – are read against the background of Hellenistic literary allegory.
    • The Competing Values of Elim Leaders in Northern Ireland: A Theological and Practical Response

      Firth, Peter; Luke, David; Moore, Hamilton; Patterson, Mark G. (University of Chester, 2021-12-01)
      This thesis identifies how competing values divided transgenerational leaders from the Elim Movement in Northern Ireland (NI) over the last four decades. Divisions increased between leaders with competing values after changes to long-held beliefs and practices, which they never openly discussed until this research. This thesis also uses theological reflection to suggest how the situation may improve for leaders with competing values if they unite relationally to limit divisions and embrace their diversity. As an Elim leader, the researcher’s position allowed access to interview ten colleagues from NI for a qualitative investigation into their competing values in a field ready for extensive doctoral research. The “four voices of theology” model provided the structure for focused engagement with literature and empirical research to systematically examine four areas where leaders’ values competed: core principles, perspectives, differences and changes. The researcher reflected theologically on the field results to justify a unifying model that was always available but never intentionally prioritised. This model includes unifying values from the Apostles’ Doctrine and Fellowship in Acts 2:42 that leaders can prioritise in future collaboration. This thesis shows that it is apposite for Elim leaders to unite in closer relationships to embrace their diversity. Moreover, as a collaborative critique, this thesis hopes to contribute to practical theology by determining how Elim leaders’ competing values in NI are inevitable and can stop or stimulate progress for future practitioners and researchers.
    • Paul as Jesus: Luke's use of recursion in Luke-Acts

      Cole, Timothy J. (University of Chester, 2021-04)
      My thesis argues that through the literary technique of recursion, the key stories and major characters in the depiction of Paul in Acts 9-28 were strategically arranged by the author to parallel the key stories and major characters in the portrait of Jesus in the Third Gospel. Recursion is a literary device that has wide currency in the Hebrew Bible, is common to the Hellenistic literature of the day, and is part and parcel of Luke’s literary strategy. The narrative technique of recursion is the author’s conscious shaping of narrative events so that key elements of one narrative are repeated with variation in others. We argue that Luke concentrates on Paul in Acts 9-28 because to some Jewish and Gentile readers, his apostleship was suspect, handicapped by an unknown association with Jesus, an adversary of Jesus, persecuting and attempting to wipe out the church. As part of his larger strategy to sanction Paul, the author shapes selected narrative portions of Acts 1-12 so that the depiction of Peter, the Jerusalem apostle par excellence, well established in the minds of readers, is aligned by recursion to remind readers of his association with Jesus in the Third Gospel. If Jesus raises the dead, heals a man lame from his mother’s womb, and gives the Holy Spirit, so does Peter. Having reaffirmed Peter’s connection to the founder, Jesus, Luke begins in Acts 9 with an extended series of recursions that show Paul as an apostle on par with Peter, performing the same miracles, paving the way to show that Paul is a legitimate apostle to the Gentiles. The major characters and key events of Paul’s ministry to the Gentiles are aligned by recursion to remind readers of the major characters and key events of Jesus’ ministry in the Third Gospel. If there was a Joseph, a key figure in Jesus’ early life, there was also a Joseph in Paul’s early ministry. If Jesus experienced a major event like Gethsemane, so did Paul. As the Acts narrative unfolds, readers are made increasingly aware of Luke’s co-occurring arguments: the pattern of Paul’s apostolic ministry to the Gentiles is a recursion of Peter’s apostolic ministry to the Jews, and the extended depiction of Paul is a recursion of the portrait of Jesus in the Third Gospel. Presented with this comprehensive and compelling series of strategically arranged recursions, validating Paul’s equality with Peter, and repeated imitation of Jesus, Luke’s readers could overcome suspicion about Paul and become certain that he was equal to Peter, a true apostle of Jesus, who guarantees the authenticity and continuity of the Christian proclamation. Luke’s legitimizing of Paul via recursion, then, is one key to understanding the content of Acts 9-28.
    • Personal Daily Reflection And Involuntary Loneliness: A test of Ignatius’ Examen in a Swedish local church context

      Fulford, Ben; Svensson, Bengt S. (University of Chester, 2021-08)
      Involuntary loneliness has been recognised as a health hazard with the potential to cause physical pain in general, specific diseases, and risk premature death. In a culture characterised by highly independent individuals, the question of loneliness also needs to be addressed on a personal level. This research explores the thesis that the practice of Ignatius’ Examen has the potential to decrease involuntary subjective loneliness in the context of a Swedish Christian congregation. To test this thesis, it was necessary to examine both the larger historical and cultural contexts and the milieu of the congregation with reference to loneliness. According to the 2020 version of the Inglehart-Welzel World Cultural Map, Sweden has the most extreme position of Self-Expression Values. This test of the Examen is an example of an ecumenical activity in the frontier between Catholic and Protestant traditions, which adds to the hybridity of the project in a multidenominational congregation applying tools from different theological traditions and social science typical of practical theology. The personal encounter between God and the participant is the locus of the research and provides the paradigm from which the methodology is developed. The research used a mixed method of both quantitative and qualitative methods in a sequential and narrowing manner, beginning with an all-member survey, followed by a pre-test post-test quasi-experiment of the use of the Examen over 30 days, completed with six case studies based on interviews. The surveys indicate that one-third of church members suffer from high levels of involuntary loneliness, similar to Sweden in general. Of the 26 participants who tested the Examen, ten did it daily with a reduction of their loneliness from 43 to 34 (women) and 34 to 31 (men) on the UCLA Loneliness Scale (Version 3). Three themes were examined through a critical conversation with input from social science and theology: Image of God, relationships, and thankfulness. An I–Thou relationship with God seemed to be helpful. Relationships saw limited increases where established ones were maintained and restored. In reference to Mindfulness, both common ground and difference were observed, where the inherent direction of thankfulness was noted. Trust in people in general seemed to play a limited role. A moderate to high inverse correlation between loneliness and thankfulness was observed, as possibly the most significant observation of factors in this intervention to decrease involuntary loneliness. The different relationships, divine and human, were summed up under the concept of persons in relation, including closeness, trust, and gratitude.
    • ‘‘Turning the Wheel of the Dharma’: A translation of Aśvaghoṣa’s Buddhacarita Canto 15 from a recently rediscovered Sanskrit manuscript

      Jones, Dhivan Thomas; University of Chester (Cardiff University Press, 2021-12-15)
      This article offers a first translation into English of the re-discovered Sanskrit text of Canto 15 of Aśvaghoṣa’s Buddhacarita. While Cantos 1–14 of Aśvaghoṣa’s kāvya, or long poem on the life of the Buddha, have survived in Sanskrit, it had been thought that Cantos 15–24 only survived in Tibetan and Chinese translations. But the Japanese scholar Kazunobu Matsuda, working with Jens-Üwe Hartmann, has recently identified the whole of Canto 15 embedded in a Sanskrit manuscript of the Tridaṇḍamālā, attributed to Aśvaghoṣa. While Matsuda has made a translation into Japanese, I offer a translation of the Sanskrit text of Buddhacarita Canto 15 into English. A distinctive feature of this translation is that I present a prose translation, conveying the Sanskrit syntax and vocabulary in an accurate form, alongside a verse translation, suggesting some of the poetic qualities of Ásvaghoṣa’s Sanskrit in the form of English blank verse and unrhymed ballad metre.
    • What Kinds of Meditation Are There in Buddhism?

      Jones, Dhivan Jones; University of Chester (Equinox Publishing, 2021-10-25)
      Answer to the question, What Kinds of Meditation Are There in Buddhism?
    • What Is non-attachment in Buddhism?

      Jones, Dhivan Thomas; University of Chester (Equinox Publishing, 2021-10-25)
      Answer to the question, What Is Non-Attachment in Buddhism?
    • What do we know about the historical Buddha?

      Jones, Dhivan Thomas; University of Chester (Equinox Publishing, 2021-10-25)
      Answer to the question, What do we know about the historical Buddha?
    • Are Buddhists Vegetarian?

      Jones, Dhivan Thomas; University of Chester (Equinox, 2021-10-25)
      Answer to the question, Are Buddhists vegetarian?
    • Peggy the Tutor, Mentor, Colleague and Friend.

      Dossett, Wendy; Burns, Andrew; Schmidt, Bettina; University of Chester; Alister Hardy Society; Religious Experience Research Centre, University of Wales Trinity St David (Religious Experience Research Centre, 2021-08-03)
      Introduction to the Festschrift - Essays in Honour of Peggy Morgan
    • Mission Team Life Transformative discipleship and leadership development in context

      Knowles, Steve; Graham, Elaine; Silk, Ian G. (University of Chester, 2021-06)
      Mission team life - the lived experience of missioning together that is given shape and meaning through relationships, practices, processes and values - is a social reality and modus operandi whose transformational potential has been largely unrecognised. The way discipleship is currently being reimagined for churches is impoverished by this lack of recognition. This study investigates the shape of mission team life in lived experience and its impact on those who participate in it. Using qualitative research methods including semi-structured interviewing, thematic analysis, theological reflection and poetic reframing I draw on the life-stories of thirteen mission leaders in a variety of local contexts to explore both the constituent elements and the overall character of mission team life. As a reflective practitioner and facilitator of mission teams I bring my own experience to the interpretation of their narratives. I demonstrate that mission team life comprises six interweaving relational dynamics: synergia (co-working), koinonia (the sharing of lives), diakonia (serving), pneumatika (spiritual practices), mathemata (lessons learned) and euremata (attending to surprise discoveries). The character of the whole is relational, complex, chaordic, adventuresome and Spirit-filled. Such life together is a way of discipleship in which vocations are mutually discerned and leadership emerges in context. An understanding of the dynamics and character of mission team life can equip the Church’s theological imagination in vital areas. This research addresses debilitating dichotomies highlighted or implied in recent official reports through a robust conceptualisation of discipleship and an account of practice based in lived experience. Reflective practitioners whose values in ministry are formed through mission team living demonstrate an understanding of collaboration, compassion, hospitality, spirituality, co-empowerment and prophetic imagination. When these qualities also become the hallmark of the mission teams they lead the result can be a way of discipleship that is both imaginative and transformative. My conceptualisation of the relational dynamics of mission team life is thus a fresh paradigm, offering to churches, missions and the academy a way of seeing, understanding and living a transformative discipleship rich in spirituality, synergy, community, ministries and leadership potential.
    • Are Alcohol and Drugs ever acceptable to Buddhists?

      Dossett, Wendy; University of Chester (Equinox Publishing, 2021-10-25)
      This short chapter explores the ways in which the fifth precept has been interpreted in different social locations, as well as Buddhist ritual use of entheogens, the association of spirituality and psychedelics, and Buddhist approaches to addiction recovery.
    • What is Pure Land Buddhism?

      Dossett, Wendy; University of Chester (Equinox Publishing, 2021-10-25)
      A short introductory essay on Pure Land Buddhism addressing its history, texts, teachings and internal diversity.
    • Postliberal positions in public theology

      Fulford, Ben; University of Chester (T&T Clark, 2022-06-30)
      In this chapter, I seek to show that, contrary to widespread caricatures as fideists eschewing publicly intelligible critical scrutiny, or sectarians advocating Christian disengagement from the public realm, postliberal theologians have a deep commitment to publicness in both these senses, which arises from their commitment to the irreducible particularity of Christian beliefs, practices and the stories which norm them. It is, I argue first, because of this commitment to Christian particularity and the orientation to the public it entails, that they are critical of attempts to establish the public status of Christian belief and practice on a putatively universalist foundation or general theory of human existence or religion. They pursue this critique in order to preserve the public character of Christian faith. Second, to different degrees, they seek to mobilise what they take to be core resources of Christian tradition, not least its central scriptural narratives, in order to frame, orient and exemplify constructive Christian engagement with public issues and events. Third, they have sought to find ways to articulate the modes and terms of critical public accountability for Christian beliefs and practices without lapsing back into the very modes of theological and ethical argument against which they protest. These tend to liken the public intelligibility of Christian meanings to those of the culture of a community, to combine realist, coherentist and pragmatic understandings to describe what it means to call Christianity ‘true’, which admit of a range of public ways of assessing Christian discourse without subordinating it to a distorting set of criteria.