• Borrowed silence: A history of the practice of retreat in the Church of England

      Parker, Stephen; Greggs, Tom; Morris, Wayne; Tyers, John H. (University of Liverpool (University of Chester), 2012)
      This thesis, which is the first attempt to write about the growth of retreats, deals with a rather sidelined but important development in the history of spirituality. It states when, how and why the practice of retreat was adopted and adapted in the Church of England after having been a devotion in the Church of Rome since the time of the Catholic Reformation and how it has developed since. It is divided chronologically into three major sections. The first tells the story of its adoption in 1858 by a group of Anglo Catholics in the form of the preached retreat and its subsequent spread to a small number of adherents, despite meeting opposition from Evangelical Christians. The second tells of the influence of a Jesuit brother, Charles Plater, and how after the First World War a number of Diocesan retreat houses were opened, the use of which continued to rise until after the Second World War. The third takes the story up to our present day with its adaptation to the needs of the present search for faith, its decline accompanying the present loss in membership in the churches whilst at the same time its adoption in various forms by non-Anglican groups. In particular it contains a history of the Society of Retreat Conductors. All the time comparison is made with what was happening in the Church of Rome. There are resonances with the history of the Victorian church, the attitude of the established church to the working classes, evangelism, the changing fortunes of Anglo Catholicism, the ecumenical movement and New Age Christianity. It is of interest to all who are concerned about spread of religious faith today.
    • US Protestant natalist reception of Old Testament "fruitful verses" : A critique

      Clough, David; Deane-Drummond, Celia; Christianson, Eric; McKeown, John P. (University of Liverpool (University of Chester), 2011-07)
      The advocacy of a high birth rate is an ideology called natalism. In the USA since 1985 some Protestants have used Old Testament verses to support natalist arguments. This thesis argues that natalism is inappropriate as a Christian application of Scripture, especially since rich nations’ populations’ total footprint is detrimental to biodiversity and to poor nations’ welfare. The methodology is analysis of natalist writings, investigation of possible historical roots, and then evaluation of natalist interpretation from three perspectives: the ancient Near Eastern OT context, patristic Christian tradition, and contemporary ecological concerns. The analysis and historical investigation consists of two chapters. Chapter 2 considers wider natalism, modern secular and religious varieties, and the cultural context of US Evangelicalism. Through textual analysis of biblical reception in recent natalist writings, it identifies the verses cited and common interpretative arguments. Chapter 3 asks whether this natalism has roots in historic Protestantism. It investigates the claim made by some natalist advocates that Martin Luther in the 16th century expounded similar ideas about fecundity. The evaluation consists of three chapters. Chapter 4 explores the ancient Near Eastern cultural context, and Old Testament ideas about fecundity’s role in God’s project of salvation. Ventures by biblical scholars into contemporary application of the verses in question are critiqued. Chapter 5 considers Augustine’s comments on human fruitfulness in the Bible and his thinking on fecundity. Using ressourcement from this representative of patristic tradition, Augustine’s reception is compared with natalism. Chapter 6 explains an ecological hermeneutic which brings biblical and classic Christian biblical reception into conversation with contemporary concerns. My reception of the verses uses a hermeneutic lens derived from Genesis 1, and gives priority to the contextual issues of biodiversity and the un/sustainability of the ecological footprints of overpopulated rich nations. The thesis is the first to offer systematic analysis of natalist biblical reception, and focuses on the neglected majority of natalists which accepts family planning. It highlights exegetical arguments which are then compared with Luther’s writings, tested against plausible meanings of the fruitful verses, and tested against Augustine and patristic tradition. Previous research on ecologically responsible interpretation of these verses and on Christian thinking about human fecundity and overpopulation is updated and extended in this dissertation.