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Owning a Scandalous Past and an Uncertain Future
The largest Protestant denomination in the United States is in the midst of a serious identity crisis; many Baptists are revisiting or turning away from the tradition, leaving others to become increasingly uncertain that the denomination can remain viable. Here, however, noted Baptist historian Bill Leonard wades through the murky waters of the Baptist past and explores the historic commitments of this unique people—all in an effort to shed light on its contemporary dilemmas and evaluate the prospects for a Baptist future. While encouraging members of the faith to thoroughly and fairly evaluate their heritage—and its many blunders along the way—Leonard ultimately argues that the Baptists’ contentious “audacious witness” shown throughout its history still has a worthy role to play in the twenty-first century.
Elites, Middlemen, and the Church in Hong Kong
Every so often a work of history appears that radically changes our understanding of people, place and period. Chinese Christian is such a work. This book asks questions about Hong Kong that have never been asked before. It shows that the leaders of Chinese society had a far greater role in shaping early Hong Kong history than earlier historians had believed.
Pursuit of the Kingdom of God and Its Influence on Democratic Values in Late Nineteenth-Century Britain and the U.S.
At the heart of the biblical myth of chosenness is the idea that God has blessed a people to be a blessing to others. It is a mission of solemn responsibility. The six British and American thinkers examined in this study embraced the myth of chosenness for their countries, believed that the liberties they enjoyed were inherently tied to their Protestant faith, and that it was their mission to protect and spread that faith, and its democratic fruit, at home and abroad.
Each theologian in this study—Robert William Dale, Hugh Price Hughes, and Brooke Foss Westcott in England; Walter Rauschenbusch, Henry Codman Potter, and Josiah Strong in the United States—wanted, in Rauschenbusch's words, to “Christianize the social order,” seeking to evolve their countries into true Christian nations that would lead to an international kingdom of God. They were all products of their time, yet ahead of their time, and their pursuit of a true, free, national Christianity helped support the development of Western democratic values. However, their belief in chosenness also fuelled imperialistic claims, neglected the rights of native peoples, led to anti-Catholicism, and hindered the religious liberties of others.
A Study in Early Christian History and Difference
In the first full-length study of the circumcision of Jesus, Andrew S. Jacobs turns to an unexpected symbol—the stereotypical mark of the Jewish covenant on the body of the Christian savior—to explore how and why we think about difference and identity in early Christianity.
Jacobs explores the subject of Christ's circumcision in texts dating from the first through seventh centuries of the Common Era. Using a diverse toolkit of approaches, including the psychoanalytic, postcolonial, and poststructuralist, he posits that while seeming to desire fixed borders and a clear distinction between self (Christian) and other (Jew, pagan, and heretic), early Christians consistently blurred and destabilized their own religious boundaries. He further argues that in this doubled approach to others, Christians mimicked the imperial discourse of the Roman Empire, which exerted its power through the management, not the erasure, of difference.
For Jacobs, the circumcision of Christ vividly illustrates a deep-seated Christian duality: the fear of and longing for an other, at once reviled and internalized. From his earliest appearance in the Gospel of Luke to the full-blown Feast of the Divine Circumcision in the medieval period, Christ circumcised represents a new way of imagining Christians and their creation of a new religious culture.
Artistic representations were of significant value to early Christian communities. In Christ the Miracle Worker in Early Christian Art, Lee Jefferson argues that images provided visual representations of vital religious and theological truths crucial to the faithful and projected concepts beyond the limitations of the written and spoken word. Images of Christ performing miracles or healings functioned as advertisements for Christianity and illustrated the nature of Christ. Using these images of Christ, Jefferson examines the power of art, its role in fostering devotion, and the deep connection between art and its elucidation of pivotal theological claims.
A Reader in Christian Social Ethics from the Bible to the Present
No question has been as persistently nettling as the proper relationship of Christians and the Christian church to political power, and the results have often been calamitous. This classic collection of Christian statements on social ethics, now fully revised and augmented, provides a panoramic view of the 2000-year development of Christian concerns for political justice, peace, civil rights, family law, civil liberties, and other "worldly" issues. In readings that range from the Bible to church fathers to Bonhoeffer and Pope Benedict XVI, these substantial excerpts enable the student to see the flow of Christian thought and the deeper religious context for addressing today's most pressing problems.
Religious history more generally has experienced an exciting revival over the past few years, with new methodological and theoretical approaches invigorating the field. The time has definitely come for this “new religious history” to arrive in Eastern Europe. This book explores the influence of the Christian churches in Eastern Europe's social, cultural, and political history. Drawing upon archival sources, the work fills a vacuum as few scholars have systematically explored the history of Christianity in the region. The result of a three-year project, this collective work challenges readers with questions like: Is secularization a useful concept in understanding the long-term dynamics of religiosity in Eastern Europe? Is the picture of oppression and resistance an accurate way to characterize religious life under communism, or did Christians and communists find ways to co-exist on the local level prior to 1989? And what role did Christians actually play in dissident movements under communism? Perhaps most important is the question: what does the study of Eastern Europe contribute to the broader study of modern Christian history, and what can we learn from the interpretative problems that arise, uniquely, from this region?
The Eusebius Gallicanus Sermon Collection and the Power of the Church in Late Antique Gaul
Lisa Kaaren Bailey’s Christianity’s Quiet Success: The Eusebius Gallicanus Sermon Collection and the Power of the Church in Late Antique Gaul is the first major study of the Eusebius Gallicanus collection of anonymous, multi-authored sermons from fifth- and sixth-century Gaul. Bailey sheds new light on these sermons, which were strikingly popular and influential from late antiquity to the High Middle Ages, as the large number of surviving manuscripts attests. They were used for centuries by clergy as a preaching guide and by monks and pious lay people as devotional reading. Bailey’s analysis demonstrates the extent to which these stylistically simple and straightforward sermons emphasize consensus, harmony, and mutuality as the central values of a congregation. Preachers encouraged tolerance among their congregants and promoted a model of leadership that placed themselves at the center of the community rather than above it. These sermons make clear the delicate balancing act required of late antique and warly medieval pastors as they attempted to explain the Christian faith and also maintain the clerical control considered necessary for a universal church. The Eusebius Gallicanus collection gives us fresh insight inyo the process by which the Catholic Church influenced the lives of Western Europeans.
For too long, the study of religious life in Late Antiquity has relied on the premise that Jews, pagans, and Christians were largely discrete groups divided by clear markers of belief, ritual, and social practice. More recently, however, a growing body of scholarship is revealing the degree to which identities in the late Roman world were fluid, blurred by ethnic, social, and gender differences. Christianness, for example, was only one of a plurality of identities available to Christians in this period.
In Christians and Their Many Identities in Late Antiquity, North Africa, 200-450 CE, Éric Rebillard explores how Christians in North Africa between the age of Tertullian and the age of Augustine were selective in identifying as Christian, giving salience to their religious identity only intermittently. By shifting the focus from groups to individuals, Rebillard more broadly questions the existence of bounded, stable, and homogeneous groups based on Christianness. In emphasizing that the intermittency of Christianness is structurally consistent in the everyday life of Christians from the end of the second to the middle of the fifth century, this book opens a whole range of new questions for the understanding of a crucial period in the history of Christianity.
Religion and Wealth in Industrial-Era Philadelphia
In Church and Estate, Thomas Rzeznik examines the lives and religious commitments of the Philadelphia elite during the period of industrial prosperity that extended from the late nineteenth century through the 1920s. It reveals the influence their wealth and status afforded them within their religious communities, while simultaneously tracing how religious beliefs informed their actions and shaped their class identity. In tracing those connections, it shows how religion and wealth shared a fruitful, yet ultimately tenuous, relationship.