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The Oxford History of Protestant Dissenting Traditions, Volume II

By Andrew C. Thompson
  • ISBN Code: : 0191006688
  • Publisher : Oxford University Press
  • Pages : 544
  • Category : Religion
  • Reads : 598
  • Book Compatibility : Pdf, ePub, Mobi, Kindle
  • Pdf : the-oxford-history-of-protestant-dissenting-traditions-volume-ii.pdf

Book Excerpt :

The five-volume Oxford History of Dissenting Protestant Traditions series is governed by a motif of migration ('out-of-England'). It first traces organized church traditions that arose in England as Dissenters distanced themselves from a state church defined by diocesan episcopacy, the Book of Common Prayer, the Thirty-Nine Articles, and royal supremacy, but then follows those traditions as they spread beyond England -and also traces newer traditions that emerged downstream in other parts of the world from earlier forms of Dissent. Secondly, it does the same for the doctrines, church practices, stances toward state and society, attitudes toward Scripture, and characteristic patterns of organization that also originated in earlier English Dissent, but that have often defined a trajectory of influence independent ecclesiastical organizations. The Oxford History of Protestant Dissenting Traditions, Volume II charts the development of protestant Dissent between the passing of the Toleration Act (1689) and the repealing of the Test and Corporation Acts (1828). The long eighteenth century was a period in which Dissenters slowly moved from a position of being a persecuted minority to achieving a degree of acceptance and, eventually, full political rights. The first part of the volume considers the history of various dissenting traditions inside England. There are separate chapters devoted to Presbyterians, Congregationalists, Baptists and Quakers—the denominations that traced their history before this period—and also to Methodists, who emerged as one of the denominations of 'New Dissent' during the eighteenth century. The second part explores that ways in which these traditions developed outside England. It considers the complexities of being a Dissenter in Wales and Ireland, where the state church was Episcopalian, as well as in Scotland, where it was Presbyterian. It also looks at the development of Dissent across the Atlantic, where the relationship between church and state was rather looser. Part three is devoted to revivalist movements and their impact, with a particular emphasis on the importance of missionary societies for spreading protestant Christianity from the late eighteenth century onwards. The fourth part looks at Dissenters' relationship to the British state and their involvement in the campaigns to abolish the slave trade. The final part discusses how Dissenters lived: the theology they developed and their attitudes towards scripture; the importance of both sermons and singing; their involvement in education and print culture and the ways in which they expressed their faith materially through their buildings.

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The early Christian Church was a chaos of contending beliefs. Some groups of Christians claimed that there was not one God but two or twelve or thirty. Some believed that the world had not been created by God but by a lesser, ignorant deity. Certain sects maintained that Jesus was human but not divine, while others said he was divine but not human. In Lost Christianities, Bart D. Ehrman offers a fascinating look at these early forms of Christianity and shows how they came to be suppressed, reformed, or forgotten. All of these groups insisted that they upheld the teachings of Jesus and his apostles, and they all possessed writings that bore out their claims, books reputedly produced by Jesus's own followers. Modern archaeological work has recovered a number of key texts, and as Ehrman shows, these spectacular discoveries reveal religious diversity that says much about the ways in which history gets written by the winners. Ehrman's discussion ranges from considerations of various "lost scriptures"--including forged gospels supposedly written by Simon Peter, Jesus's closest disciple, and Judas Thomas, Jesus's alleged twin brother--to the disparate beliefs of such groups as the Jewish-Christian Ebionites, the anti-Jewish Marcionites, and various "Gnostic" sects. Ehrman examines in depth the battles that raged between "proto-orthodox Christians"--those who eventually compiled the canonical books of the New Testament and standardized Christian belief--and the groups they denounced as heretics and ultimately overcame. Scrupulously researched and lucidly written, Lost Christianities is an eye-opening account of politics, power, and the clash of ideas among Christians in the decades before one group came to see its views prevail.

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In Debating the Sacraments, Amy Nelson Burnett brings together the foundational disputes regarding the baptism and the Lord's Supper that laid the groundwork for the development of two Protestant traditions-Lutheran and Reformed-as well as of dissenting Anabaptist movements. Burnett places these disputes in the context of early print culture, tracing their development in a range of publications and their impact on the wider public. Burnett examines not only the writings of the major reformers, but also the reception of their ideas in the pamphlets of lesser known figures, as well as the role of translators, editors, and printers in exacerbating the conflict among both literate and illiterate audiences. Following the chronological unfolding of the debates, Burnett observes how specific arguments were formed in the crucible of written critique and pierces several myths that have governed our understanding of the sacramental controversies. She traces the influence of Erasmus on Luther's followers outside of Wittenberg and highlights the critical question of authority, particularly in interpreting the Bible. Erasmus and Luther disagreed not only about the relationship between the material world and spiritual reality but also on biblical hermeneutics and scriptural exegesis. Their disagreements underlay the public debates over baptism and the Lord's Supper that broke out in 1525 and divided the evangelical movement. Erasmus's position would be reflected not only in the views of Ulrich Zwingli and others who shared his orientation toward the sacraments but also in the developing theologies of the Anabaptist movement of the 1520s. The neglected period of 1525-1529 emerges as a crucial phase of the early Reformation, when evangelical theologies were still developing, and which paved the way for the codification of theological differences in church ordinances, catechisms, and confessions of subsequent decades.