Monday, 22 November 2010

'The Dark Side of Christian History' (February CHF Conference)

"The dark side of Christian history"
Saturday, 5th February, St. Ebbe's church, Roger Bacon Lane, Oxford, OX1 1QE.

Christian historians from across a wide range of fields will reflect on some of the major events in the past (and the church's role in the them) that are often cited as reasons to dismiss the Christian faith. There will also be plenty of opportunity for questions and discussion. Undergraduates are welcome, as are postgraduates, practicing historians and interested readers of work in the humanities. The day conference will be held at St. Ebbes Church, which has a special mission to undergraduates in Oxford, and is located in the heart of the city.


Dr. John Coffey, Leicester University, Reformation and Intolerance
Dr. Tim Cole, Bristol University, The Holocaust
Dr. Dominic Erdozain, King's College London, Violence and Abuse
Dr. Deborah Gaitskell, SOAS, Apartheid
Dr. Stephen Tuck, University of Oxford, American segregation and Civil Rights

The provisional timeframe is 10.45 - 3.45.

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

New Book: Bebbington on Baptists

CHF members will be delighted to learn that Prof David Bebbington has a new book out. Baptists through the Centuries: A History of a Global People (Baylor UP, 2010) provides a panoramic overview of Baptist history from its Reformation roots to its global spread. As one would expect, it combines the big picture with rich detail, starting with a wonderful vignette about the Castle Donington General Baptists who in 1864 bought their pastor a pair of waterproof boots to be worn during baptisms. It's a reminder, for Bebbington, that Baptists were always 'accommodating themselves to their time and circumstances', in this case by becoming more decorous to reflect their rising social status. Like Bebbington's now classic work, Evangelicalism in Modern Britain (1989), this is a study of cultural adaptation. Alongside its chronological overview, there are fascinating thematic chapters on race, women, ecclesiology, religious liberty and foreign mission.

Bebbington has been at the forefront of Baptist history for several decades, and this is the first general history of the Baptists to harvest the wealth of recent research on Baptist communities through the centuries, including those of Eastern Europe. It's a great gift to Baptist themselves, for nowhere else will they find an account of their past as rich, rounded, critical and fair-minded as this one. But it ought to be read by anyone interested in the history of Christianity since the Reformation.

John Coffey
University of Leicester

Readers can get a sneak preview here:

Christian Roots of Modern Science - CiS Day Conference (30 October 2010)

The CHF Oxford day conference on 'The Dark Side of Church History' has been postponed to the new year, but Christians in Science are holding a day conference on 'Christian Roots of Modern Science - Learning from the Past'

Date: Saturday 30th October 2010, 9.30–17.00
Venue: St Paul’s Church, Robert Adam Street, London W1U 3HP
(off Baker Street between Marylebone Road and Oxford Street. Nearest tube stops – Baker Street or Bond Street)

The line-up of speakers is impressive:
Prof Peter Harrison: Andreas Idreos Professor of Science and Religion, Oxford
Prof John Hedley Brooke: President of International Society for Science and Religion
Prof David Livingstone: Professor of Geography & Intellectual History, Belfast
Dr Allan Chapman: Historian of Science, Oxford
Dr Denis Alexander: Director of The Faraday Institute for Science and Religion, Cambridge

Further details available on the CiS website:

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

CHF Bulletin, summer 2010

This year's Bulletin has now been published, containing articles on:

* 'Brethren in religion': the Huguenots and early evangelicalism (Chris Adams)
* 'The most dangerous of all allies': evangelicals and the novel, 1790-1840' (David Sandifer)
* Empire and Christian missions: opposition, opportunities, obstacles' (David Killingray)

Copies are available on request from:

Monday, 14 June 2010

King James Bible Quatercentenary

2011 is the 400th anniversary of publication of the King James Bible (1611). These anniversaries always generate a spurt of publications and conferences. One thinks of the recent celebrations of the Abolition of the Slave Trade in 2007, Milton in 2008 and Darwin in 2009. The KJV will not attract the same level of government funding as Abolition, and it may not equal the media exposure of Darwin, though it should eclipse Milton.

There will be one big academic history conference in the UK at the University of York entitled: 'The Bible in the Seventeenth Century: The King James Bible Quatercentenary (1611-2011)'. This boasts a strong line up of seventeenth-century literary scholars and historians:

The 2011 Trust (Patron: HRH The Prince of Wales; Chairman: Frank Field) has been set up to promote the Quatercentenary Year. Their website is worth browsing. It has an interactive map giving a full listing of events. They've even managed to get the endorsement of Richard Dawkins, who graces the website with a reading of the Song of Songs!

Books on the KJV and its impact are forthcoming from various quarters. They include a study by the literary scholar Gordon Campbell entitled The Story of the King James Bible, 1611-2011 (OUP), and a popular history of the Bible and English political thought by Nick Spencer from the think tank Theos.

CHF is planning its own day conference at the London Institute for Contemporary Christianity on Sat 12th November 2011. This will come at the end of the anniversary year, but will provide an opportunity to reflect on how the occasion has been remembered, as well as on how the King James Bible has been read since 1611. More information to follow on this blog in due course.

Friday, 11 June 2010

Michael Harper

I note in the most recent annual review from Lambeth Palace Library that they have received the papers of Michael Harper, which contain much on the history of the Fountain Trust and the charismatic movement more widely. They are not catalogued as yet, but promise to be a major resource once they are.

See also the Times obituary of Harper.

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

The Rise of Religious History

'Church History' or 'Ecclesiastical History' sound rather old-fashioned these days. Increasingly, historians of Christianity classify their work under the category 'Religious History', partly to distance themselves from the older denominational or confessional history, and also to indicate their interest in fresh historical approaches (the study of popular religious culture, gender, race and ethnicity etc). But a recent survey of members of the American Historical Association suggests that 'Religious History' has now overtaken its inspirational twin, 'Cultural History', as the most popular topical category:

Cultural History has reigned supreme since overhauling Social History as the most popular category fifteen years ago, so this new development has sparked some debate. Jon Butler of Yale University offers one explanation: “I think the category [of Religious History] has become more popular because historians realize that the world is aflame with faith, yet our traditional ways of dealing with modern history especially can’t explain how or why. In short, the ‘secularization thesis’ appears to have failed and so we need to find ways to explain how and why it didn’t die as so much written history suggests.”

For further comment by leading historians see The Immanent Frame website, which features high-level debate about secularism, religion and the public sphere:

Saturday, 15 May 2010

Ecclesiastical History Society conference

The draft programme for this year's meeting at St Andrews is now available from the EHS site. There are a larger number of papers than usual, and the theme is 'The Church and Literature', which matches very well the theme of the study day at the IHR last autumn, on The Printed Word.