• Feminist critiques, visions and models of the church

      Graham, Elaine L.; University of Chester (Oxford University Press, 2018-06-28)
      Whilst women comprise the majority of active lay members of most Christian denominations, they have been vastly under-represented within the Church’s ministries of Word and Sacrament. Critical feminist ecclesiologies invariably have to begin from this situation of invisibility and discrimination, whilst arguing for the historic and contemporary legitimacy of women’s full participation alongside men. Feminist critiques and reconstructions have drawn on Biblical and historical evidence in order to refute patterns of hierarchy and exclusion in favour of more egalitarian traditions of the Church as a community of equals. The various strands of the ‘Women-Church’ movement have also been central to a practical feminist ecclesiology, in which women have sought new ways to name their everyday experience as sacred and to exercise new patterns of ministry and leadership. Institutionally-led initiatives, such as the World Council of Churches’ programme on The Community of Women and Men in the Church, have met with mixed success; and increasingly, feminist ecclesiology has focused on the lived experience of women, not only in mainstream churches but in locally-based, informal liturgical communities. These serve to illustrate the extent to which liturgy and worship has been one of the most creative well-springs of feminist activity and renewal; and may, in the long run, be seen to have exercised the greatest lasting impact on the life of the Church.
    • Speakers for the Dead: digital memory and the construction of identity

      Vincent, Alana M.; University of Chester (Berghahn Books, 2018-06)
      In the wake of the killing of twelve people at the offices of the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, thousands of individuals—many of whom had never before seen a copy of the paper—changed their Facebook statuses, profile pictures, or Twitter updates to “Je suis Charlie.” A month previously, a similar outpouring of digital sentiment took place in response to a New York grand jury’s decision not to indict police officers who had been filmed choking Eric Garner to death: #icantbreathe. These two events are, of course, not unique—one might also note Le Monde’s editorial headline on 12 September 2001, “Nous sommes tous Americains”, or even John F. Kennedy’s 1963 declaration “Ich bin ein Berliner”—but they are exemplary of an increasing tendency towards the appropriation of another’s identity as a ritual of public mourning. This paper considers these appropriative rituals in a wider historical context of memorialisation as constitutive of collective identity, arguing that, while the internet did not originate this ritual of remembrance via appropriation, its increasing dominance is a consequence of the immediacy and international nature of digital culture. It then presents an analysis of the politics of the “us” which results from these commemorative rituals, making some suggestions about whether, and how, the problematic notion of collective identity is transforming in the digital age.
    • Invitation to Research in Practical Theology

      Bennett, Zoe; Graham, Elaine L.; Pattison, Stephen; Walton, Heather; Anglia Ruskin University; University of Chester; University of Birmingham; University of Glasgow (Routledge, 2018-05-29)
      Practical theology as a subject area has grown and become more sophisticated in its methods and self-understanding over the last few decades. In doing so, it has become increasingly methodologically sophisticated and theoretically self-aware. This book provides a complete and original research primer in the major theories, approaches and methods at the cutting-edge of research in contemporary practical theology. It represents a reflection on the very practice of the discipline itself, its foundational questions and epistemological claims. Each chapter examines different aspects of the research process: starting with experience and practice, aspects of research design and epistemology, communities of learning, the influence of theological norms and tradition on the practice of research, and ethical considerations about what constitutes ‘the good’ in advanced research. It offers worked examples from the authors, their colleagues and research students that serve to illustrate key ideas and approaches in practical theological research.
    • The Violence of the Lamb: Martyrs as Agents of Divine Judgement in the Book of Revelation

      Middleton, Paul; University of Chester (T & T Clark, 2018-05-03)
      The act of martyrdom in the worldview of the Apocalypse has been considered to be an exemplification of non-violent resistance. Paul Middleton argues here, however, that it is in fact a representation of direct participation by Christians, through their martyrdom, in divine violence against those the author of Revelation portrays as God's enemies. Middleton shows that acceptance of martyrdom is to grasp the invitation to participate in the Revelation's divine violence. Martyrs follow the model laid down by the Lamb, who was not only slain, but resurrected, glorified, and who executes judgement. The world created by the Apocalypse encourages readers to conquer the Beast through martyrdom, but also through the experience of resurrection and being appointed judges. In this role, martyrs participate in the judgement of the wicked by sharing the Lamb's power to judge. Different from eschewing violence, the conceptual world of the Apocalypse portrays God, the Lamb, and the martyrs as possessing more power, might, and violent potential than the Emperor and his armies. Middleton believes that martyrdom and violence are necessary components of the worldview of Revelation.
    • How to speak of God? Toward a postsecular apologetics

      Graham, Elaine L.; University of Chester (Taylor & Francis, 2018-04-11)
      Against most expectations religion has not vanished from Western culture. If anything, it exercises a greater fascination than ever before. Broadly, we might think of ourselves as occupying a new, 'postsecular' space between a renewed visibility of religion in public life, and a corresponding acknowledgement of the importance of religious values and actors; and persistent and widespread disillusion and scepticism towards religion, and objections to religion as a source of legitimate public discourse. In a world that is more sensitive than ever to religious belief and practice, yet often struggles to accommodate it into secular discourse, how do religious institutions justify their position in a contested and volatile public square? This article argues that the contemporary postsecular context requires a recovery of the ancient practices of Christian apologetics as a form of public, theological witness to the practical value of faith, articulated in both deed and word.
    • George Jeffreys: Pentecostal and contemporary implications

      Kay, William K.; University of Chester (MDPI, 2018-02-15)
      The life and work of the Welsh evangelist George Jeffreys resulted in the planting of two denominations in the UK between 1915 and 1962, when he died. The Elim churches continue to this day to be one of the larger classical Pentecostal denominations in the UK, while the Bible Pattern Fellowship dispersed on Jeffreys’ death. The disputes that led to Jeffreys’ departure from Elim were said to have arisen from his adherence to British Israel doctrine, though his supporters believed they arose from his championing of local church ownership and democracy. This paper considers sociological and other reasons for Jeffreys’ remarkable success in the interwar years and his eventual departure from a denomination he founded. It concludes by reflecting on topics (such as the importance of debate and law) that have relevance for contemporary Pentecostalism.
    • None is Still Too Many: Holocaust Commemoration and Historical Anesthetization

      Vincent, Alana M.; University of Chester (Palgrave Macmillan, 2018-02-05)
      This chapter highlights the tension between political engagement with Holocaust commemoration and responses to the current refugee crisis. Through an examination of historical sources, it makes the case that in spite of the rhetoric of “Never Again!” deployed in connection to the Holocaust, responses to the reality of refugees have changed very little since the 1930’s.
    • Brexit, prophecy, and conspiracy: A necessary rejection of an endtime empire

      Knowles, Steve; University of Chester (University of California Press, 2018-02)
      This study examines why some pretribulation premillennialist Christian leaders in the United Kingdom instructed their followers, both implicitly and explicitly, to vote to leave the European Union in the referendum in June 2016. The formation of the European Union is regarded as central to the fulfilment of prophecy by many premillennialists as it is purported to be the revived Roman Empire found in the books of Daniel and Revelation in the Bible. On the face of it, to vote to leave the European Union would seem to be contrary to such prophetic conjecture given the importance of the United Kingdom’s role in the Union, and the perceived destabilising impact this would have on it. This article argues, utilising evidence from interviews with two premillennialist leaders and other contemporary sources, that voting to leave did not necessarily contradict previous teaching. Rather, voting to leave was not only consistent with this teaching but also reflected the rejection of many features of the late modern condition. However, the rejection of the latter has sometimes resulted in a move beyond the premillennialist prophetic framework into the realm of conspiracy beliefs.
    • Twelve Step Mutual Aid: Spirituality, Vulnerability and Recovery

      Dossett, Wendy; University of Chester (Routledge, 2017-12-27)
      This chapter considers whether the lenses of counselling and New Religious Movements help to understand the phenomenon of Twelve Step recovery from addiction.
    • The Necessity of a Jewish Systematic Theology

      Vincent, Alana M.; University of Chester (2017-12-22)
      Taking into account current disputes about the nature of theology and religious studies, both inside and outside of the academy, this article argues that the academic discipline of theology would benefit greatly by expanding its religious remit beyond the traditional field of Christian Systematic Theology to include constructive-critical insider engagement with the texts of other traditions--e.g., Jewish and Islamic theology.
    • Tzedakah, Tikkun: Jewish Approaches to Social Justice

      Vincent, Alana M.; University of Chester (Routledge, 2017-10-26)
      This chapter will present a historicised phenomenological account of the two dominant forms of social justice within Judaism: tzedakah (justice) and tikkun (advocacy, or, literally, “mending”). Tzedakah is a core principle of religious Judaism, and also has profound resonances within secular Judaism; the history of the Anglo-Jewish community is illustrative of the manner and extent to which tzedakah has shaped Jewish identity. The concept of tikkun is conceptually more ambiguous, and even now is understood very differently by different Jewish communities. Liberal Jews understand tikkun to be both the action of social justice advocacy (of which charitable giving is only a single component) and, simultaneously, a meta-principle which governs the interpretation of halakah (Jewish law) even to the point of over-riding particular halakhic restrictions which may otherwise impede advocacy activity. Ultra-Orthodox Jews are, conversely, likely to view strict adherence to halakah, including the practice of tzedakah, as the primary means of tikkun ha-olam (the mending of creation). In addition to the key distinction between Liberal and Orthodox social justice activity which emerges when tzedakah and tikkun are considered as modes of action, this chapter will also explore distinctions between ethnic and religious Judaism which emerge when consideration is given to the particular targets of social justice activity: which causes are self-evidently worthy of either charitable or activist intervention? What language is deployed in attempts to promote a cause through appeals to common (Jewish) values? Through a close examination of these issues, the ways in which different traditions of Judaism construct and enact concepts of social justice within both religious and ethnic frameworks will be discursively explored.
    • Urban Ecology and Faith Communities

      Baker, C. R.; Graham, Elaine L.; University of Chester (Brill, 2017-09-30)
      This chapter seeks to address a framing question of this volume, ‘What does a public theology look like in the 21st century?’ It will do so with reference to the strikingly pervasive and fluid material cultures and imaginaries of the urban which are influencing our increasingly globalized understandings of what it means to be ‘in community’ with others. The chapter will locate this contemporary context within an historical trajectory which moves from the origins of biblical theology and reflection on the city as site of divine providence and covenant, to the emergence of the modern industrial city of the mid-nineteenth century, when ‘[b]eing self-consciously urban’ definitively transformed the church’s understanding of ‘the context of mission and the possibilities of wider engagement’ with corresponding implications for the nature of public theology itself.
    • Reflexivity and Rapprochement: Explorations of a ‘Postsecular’ Public Theology

      Graham, Elaine; University of Chester (Brill, 2017-09-01)
      Accounts of secularization, decline and marginalization in relation to the public position of religion in Western society have failed to account for the continued vitality and relevance of religion in the global public square. It is important, however, to challenge simplistic accounts and think of the new visibility of religion (not least in Europe) in terms of complexity and multi-dimensionality. This article will ask how public theology might contribute constructively to repairing our fractured body politic and promoting new models of citizenship and civic engagement around visions of the common good.
    • On Becoming a Practical Theologian: Past, Present and Future Tense

      Graham, Elaine; University of Chester (AOSIS, 2017-08-31)
      This article takes an autobiographical approach to the development of practical theology as a discipline over the past thirty years with particular attention to the author’s own context of the United Kingdom. The unfolding of my own intellectual story in relation to key issues within the wider academic discourse provides an opportunity to reflect on some of the predominant themes and trends: past, present and future. Changing nomenclature, from ‘pastoral studies’ to practical theology indicates how the discipline has moved from regarding itself as the application of theory into practice, into a more performative and inductive epistemology. This emphasis continues to the present day and foregrounds the significance of the human context and the realities of lived experience, including narrative and autobiography. Whilst the methodological conundrums of relating experience to tradition and theory to practice continue, further challenges are beckoning, including religious pluralism; and so the article closes by surveying the prospects for a multi-cultural practical theology.
    • Apologetics without Apology: Speaking of God in a World Troubled by Religion

      Graham, Elaine; University of Chester (Cascade Books, 2017-07-31)
      Against many expectations, religion has not vanished from Western culture. If anything, it exercises a greater fascination than ever before. But people are troubled and fascinated in equal measure by this new visibility of faith, not least because those who ‘speak of God in public’ are now in a minority. Society as a whole is nervous about the public engagement of faith groups and whether it is right to (re)incorporate the vocabulary of faith into our common life. This unprecedented, unanticipated, agonistic co-existence of religion and secularism is sometimes termed the ‘post-secular’, and in this book I consider some of its implications and especially for the public witness of Christianity. I argue that everyone, from Church leaders, theologians to local activists and campaigners, needs to learn again how to ‘speak Christian’ in these contexts, not just to articulate credible theological justifications for their involvement in public life but to justify the very relevance of their faith to a culture that no longer grants automatic privilege or credence. This entails a retrieval of the practice of apologetics, in terms of Christians being prepared to defend their core principles and convictions in public. An apologetics of presence involves a three-fold process of discerning the actions of God in the world, participating in the praxis of God’s mission and bearing witness to the theological convictions that underpin that praxis. Rather than being an adversarial or argumentative process, however, the apologetics of presence is an invitation to dialogue and to the rejuvenation of the vocabulary and praxis of public life, as a way of enriching our shared commitment to the common good.
    • Creation and Animals

      Clough, David; University of Chester (Bloomsbury T&T Clark, 2017-07-27)
      The chapter discusses the implications of considering non-human animals and the wider creation in the context of atonement doctrine.
    • Transposing tirtha: Understanding religious reforms and locative piety in early modern Hinduism

      Thakkar, Chirayu; University of Chester (SpringerOpen, 2017-06-17)
      The paper deals with a historical and hitherto obscure case of de-commercialisation of sacred geography of India. Sahajanand Swami, an eighteenth century religious leader from Gujarat who became popular as Bhagwan Swaminarayan took an initiative to eliminate corruption in Dwarka, one of the most sacred destination in Hindu imagination. He also attempted to transpose the piety of Dwarka and recreate a parallel religious experience at Vadtal, an important site in Swaminarayan Hinduism. This process of making sacred sites more egalitarian is classified here as a 'religious reform'. The paper assesses this bivalent pursuit as an institutional reform within religion as well as a religious process in the context of piety, authority and orthodoxy. Through the example of Sahajanand Swami, it is argued to calibrate the colonial paradigm of reform that was largely contextual to social issues and western thought and failed to appreciate the religious reforms of that era. By constructing a nuanced typology of 'religious reform' distinct from 'social reforms', the paper eventually calls for a reassessment of religious figures who have significantly contributed in reforming the Hindu tradition in the medieval and modern era.
    • Moderating Religious Identity and the Eclipse of Religious Wisdoms: Lessons from Hans Frei

      Fulford, Ben; University of Chester (Taylor & Francis, 2017-06-16)
      The multivalent binary distinction between radical and moderate religion plays a key part in the rhetoric and strategy of European governments in their attempts to produce European Muslim citizens whose primary political loyalty lies with the society and state in which they live. It also plays a key part in public discourse about European Muslims and their citizenship. In what follows, I focus especially on one relatively constructive use of the distinction in the UK, offer an account of its logic through a reading of the political theology of John Locke and a critique of its effects upon a religious tradition that draws on the analysis of Hans W. Frei. Frei’s account suggests that to the extent that this logic has shaped Christian self-understanding, it tends to eclipse the wellsprings of the critically constructive engagement of Christians in the public sphere and public institutions constitutive of a pluralist, democratic society. This assessment in turn raises questions about the impact of the moderate/radical binary in respect of sources of constructive critical engagement by citizens with other religious identities.
    • Unsettled Natives in the Newfoundland Imaginary

      Owen, Suzanne; University of Chester; Leeds Trinity University (Brill, 2017-06)
      In Newfoundland, the last Beothuk died nearly two hundred years ago and both European settlers and Mi'kmaq have been blamed for their demise. This history is contentious, as is the way the demise of the Beothuk is represented in museums, literature and the arts, which may be regarded as public acts of remembering. Indigeneity debates here relate to other identity issues linked to resisting the subsumation of Newfoundland into Canada since confederation in 1949. Drawing on postcolonial literature studies, this chapter investigates how the theme of ‘unsettled natives’ – referring to both the subject (contemporary Newfoundlanders) and the object (Beothuk) – is portrayed in literature and art where the presence of the extinct Beothuk haunts the Newfoundland imaginary.
    • Martyrdom

      Middleton, Paul; University of Chester (Routledge, 2017-05-23)
      An overview of martyrdom in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam