• 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • ‘‘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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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?
    • 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?
    • Are Buddhists Vegetarian?

      Jones, Dhivan Thomas; University of Chester (Equinox, 2021-10-25)
      Answer to the question, Are Buddhists vegetarian?
    • 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.
    • A New and Living Way A Study of Leviticus as Rhetoric A Multi-Disciplinary Critique of Moshe Kline’s Approach to the Reading and the Writing of the Book

      Alexander, Philip; Morgan, Jon; Collins, Matthew; Hocking, Paul J. (University of Chester, 2021-09)
      This research is focused on the rhetoric of Leviticus as a bounded book, and on the different ways that scholars argue for its structure and purpose. In so doing, it examines the validity of Milgrom’s words that “structure is theology,” asking if the compositional structure of the book indicates its ideological thrust. The thesis question is epistemological—how can one know? How can one know if the book of Leviticus has a coherent literary structure (its composition), and, if so, what purpose that structure is meant to serve (its suasive intent)? The thesis method is empirical—on what evidence is knowing based? The thesis conclusion is that the final form of the book of Leviticus does indeed show strong evidence of an internal literary structure with suasive intent. However, given that a series of scholars since Milgrom have proposed various literary structures and purposes for the book, how can one know which are most plausible? Are there rhetorical-critical tools one can use to appraise any proposal, to gain evidence of its plausibility? This thesis takes the form of an empirical Case Study, and models a multi-disciplinary, rhetorical-critical approach to appraising a proposal by Moshe Kline, evaluating his reading based on his understanding of how the writing was structured. The thesis intends to test and evaluate the validity and reliability of the exemplar proposal, not to defend it. My main contribution to the field is therefore both specific and general: specifically, to evaluate, using literary-critical tools, the plausibility and significance of Kline’s composition proposal in the context of others, and, then generally, to demonstrate how these tools may be used by scholars to appraise the adequacy of other composition proposals. The assumption here is that the use of a range of tools will limit researcher bias and increase the validity of conclusions in rhetorical-critical studies. In simple terms, use of a suite of methods can help in discerning whether any specific proposal of literary composition constitutes an adequate explanation of the evidence regarding the structure and purpose of the text. The evidence from the specific Case Study is sufficient to confirm the plausibility (the validity and reliability) of Kline’s composition proposal, though a number of provisos are indicated. It concludes that the composition of Leviticus projects a sanctifying journey, “a new and living way.” Further depth is added to the study because Kline’s model of Leviticus’ composition proposes not just a new reading of Leviticus but also argues for a new paradigm of writing in certain ancient texts. Therefore, this thesis not only evaluates Kline’s reading of Leviticus but also his paradigm of writing itself.
    • 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
    • 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.
    • Were the Early Christians Really Persecuted

      Middleton, Paul; University of Chester (Amsterdam University Press, 2021-06-30)
      In their writings, the Early Christians presented themselves as a suffering community, facing intolerance and misunderstanding from Jew and Gentile alike, to the extent that in Acts, the Jewish community in Rome are made to declare of early Christianity, ‘we know that people everywhere are talking against this sect’ (Acts 28.22). However, historians generally recognise that while members of the early Church undoubtedly did face some harassment, there was no empire-wide policy against Christianity until well into the third century, and even then, these were short lived. Where Christians experienced persecution, it tended to be localised, sporadic, and random, and resulted from pockets of prejudice rather than any official imperial interest in the Church. If we see those who take at face value the deutero-Pauline claim that ‘all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted’ (2 Tim 3.12) as representing a ‘maximalist’ view of persecution, then, in direct contrast, what might be termed a ‘minimalist’ account is gaining popularity among scholars. Minimalists go beyond the view that Christians faced ‘periodic persecution’, and conclude that in all significant respects, the Christian narrative of persecution is a constructed myth. Moreover, they tend to turn Christian charges against their pagan neighbour of intolerance back onto the early Church, arguing that in a Roman environment of general imperial tolerance towards varieties of beliefs and practices, it was Christian intolerance and intransigence that led to their appearances before magistrates. However, this was not persecution in any meaningful sense, but prosecution. Both maximalist and minimalist accounts of early Christian experiences of suffering construct a context in which a generally tolerant group encounter an intolerant ‘other’. Depending on which approach is adopted, either Christians or Romans were the ‘victims’ of intolerance. In light of this apparent scholarly paradigm shift, I return to the basic question: were the early Christians persecuted? First I outline the formerly dominant ‘persecution paradigm’, arguing that this way of presenting Christian experience is already promoted in New Testament texts. Next, I evaluate recent revisionist ‘minimalist’ accounts, noting that the idea Christians invented—or at least exaggerated—the extent of the persecution can be found as far back as the eighteenth century. These re-evaluations offer an important and valuable corrective to the maximalist approach. However, minimalists, I argue, tend to simply replace a one-sided Christian reading of history with an equally skewed Roman perspective. Instead, I offer a reading which might be categorised as ‘modified minimalism’, in which I sidestep the persecution/prosecution dichotomy, and conclude that while it is certainly the case that Romans would have understood their (albeit limited) actions against Christians as prosecutions designed to protect the integrity of the State, Christians experienced those actions, not without reason, as persecution. I argue that Christians and Romans were indeed ‘tolerant’ of the other—just not where it mattered!
    • The Gülen Movement: Between Turkey and international exile

      Tee, Caroline; University of Chester (Brill, 2021-06-24)
      This is a chapter introducing the Gülen Movement to a general scholarly readership, as part of a Handbook of Islamic Sects and Movements.
    • 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.
    • Spirit-Centred Personhood: re-reading anorexia nervosa through a feminist practical theological frame

      Graham, Elaine; Babb, Julie B. (University of Chester, 2021-06)
      Anorexia nervosa is a ‘frequently lethal illness’ (Watson et al, 2019). Watson et al make this assertion as they and other researchers seek to understanding the role that genes play in the illness and its lethality. Recent biological research such as this has vastly extended knowledge about anorexia, as has recent psychological and sociological research into the illness. However, researchers in these areas acknowledge that understanding of anorexia remains insufficient notwithstanding the new knowledge that they are generating through their painstaking work (Nunn et al, 2011). I argue across this thesis that biological, psychological and sociological models of anorexia are unable to generate more sufficient understanding because they are limited by the binary opposition that structures discourse in the West. I claim that this limitation results from the way in which Aristotle’s metaphysical figuration of the subject of discourse as a universal male continues to frame subjectivity in the West: a framing of subjectivity that I argue the experience of female anorexia brings into view when engaged in an interdisciplinary dialogue with feminist practical theology. In order to respond to the limitation that inheres in biological, psychological and sociological models of anorexia, and to generate more sufficient understanding of the illness, I develop a model of spirit-centred personhood through which to embody subjectivity and women with anorexia. I establish a reflexive narrative methodology to underpin the dialogic nature and dialectic movement of the theoretical framework of this model. I argue that these combine through the relational subjectivity that is embodied by the intrapersonal and interpersonal dimensions of the traits of my model. My model of spirit-centred personhood thus enables me to respond to the research problem in two important ways. First, it enables me to generate knowledge from an embodied and sexuate location as it frames my engagement with the philosophy of Luce Irigaray, my key conversation partner. Second, it enables me to employ that knowledge to embody subjectivity in theory and women with anorexia in practice. In enabling me to respond in these two ways, my model assists me to achieve the overarching aim of this research project: namely, to enable women with anorexia to recover and sustain recovery across time.