Friday, 4 April 2014

BIG NEWS - George Whitefield (1714-70) and Trans-Atlantic Protestantism project

Its been a really exciting couple of weeks!

I heard a few weeks back that The Leverhulme Trust, one of the main British academic funding bodies, are granting Aberystwyth University and myself a major research project grant of £115,500 over two years for my project on 'George Whitefield (1714-70) and Trans-Atlantic Protestantism'.

The project will enable me to employ a Research Assistant for the full two years, and together we will work on producing the first ever complete edition of George Whitefield's correspondence. Numbering perhaps as many as 2,500 individual items, spanning both sides of the Atlantic, Whitefield's correspondence contains letters with many of the main religious and other figures of his day. John Wesley, Howel Harris, the Countess of Huntingdon, the Moravian Nicholas von Zinzendorf and Jonathan Edwards, the members of the Tennent clan and James Davenport from America all figure prominently. But so too does Benjamin Franklin, and many other mid-eighteenth century political and religious leaders not immediately associated with the evangelical movement. In addition, one of the most striking features of the correspondence is the extent to which 'ordinary' voices may be heard within it; humble Methodist converts and lay preachers, women and native Americans all figure.

Some Whitefield letters appeared shortly after his death, in the edition of his works published by his Scottish friend and publisher, John Gillies in 1771. It is these letters that are most familiar to modern readers perhaps, due to the reissue of one volume of them in facsimilie by the Banner of Truth Trust in the late 1970s. However, many of these letters were anonymized and then heavily and silently edited by Gilles' with the result that Whitefield's voice has been severely distorted.

This project is therefore about recovering and retrieving the authentic Whitefield, an essential precursor to the offering of some fresh interpretations. The plan is for the letters to appear in both a digital and printed edition. The Whitefield at 300 conference in June this year will complement the project of course, and there will be a volume of essays from that in due course. The ultimate aim is to produce a new biography of Whitefield, reflecting the perspectives of the recovered letters - but that's someway in the future yet.

I'll keep posting updates about the project in the months to come.

Sunday, 23 February 2014

Soon to be published - The Religious History of Wales

Due out in April, advance details of the above volume can be seen here: The Religious History of Wales.

Monday, 20 January 2014

Ashgate Studies in Evangelicalism

It with great pleasure and excitement that I can announce the launch of the 'Ashgate Studies in Evangelicalism', a brand new academic monograph series, to be edited by Andrew Atherstone (Wycliffe Hall, Oxford) and myself.

Our vision for the series is that it will quickly become the natural home for monographs and other works on every aspect of the history and theology of the global evangelical movement from its beginnings in the 1730s until the present day. The first two volumes which will launch the series are already commissioned. There will an Ashgate Research Companion on the History of Evangelicalism, containing over twenty chapters covering most aspects of the evangelical movement, summarising existing research, and flagging up those areas where the light of serious historical research has yet to shine. It will hopefully be a book that summarises the current state of the discipline.

A first monograph has also been accepted for publication. More details of that book will follow in due course.

So if you have a recently completely doctoral thesis, or a completed manuscript of a work on any aspect of the history or theology of the global evangelical movement then please get in touch.

Further details of the series can be found on the Ashgate webpage, here:

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

A New Encyclopaedia of Nonconformity

Just before Christmas a copy of the much anticipated T&T Clark Companion to Nonconformity appeared in my pigeon hole. Its a fantastically rich and comprehensive book, covering the histories and theologies of the various nonconformist religious bodies in Britain from the Reformation to the present day.

The volume has two parts; two-thirds of it consist of twenty-three thematic chapters on subjects such as Nonconformity and the Bible, the person of Christ, the Holy Spirit, preaching and liturgy, education, culture, architecture, mission and the Labour Movement and much else besides. The final  third consists of an invaluable ABC to Nonconformity.

I've contributed a chapter to book on 'Nonconformists and Home Mission', focussing in some detail on the role that religious revivals played in the expansion of the main nonconformist bodies, and also fifteen separate entries to the ABC on such themes and individuals as Evangelicalism, Methodism, the Moravians, Howel Harris, George Whitefield and Martyn Lloyd-Jones.

The only drawback to the volume - an eye-watering price-tag of £100!

Friday, 11 October 2013

Hot off the Press: Evangelicalism and Fundamentalism volume.

Just published this week, my latest book, co-edited with David Bebbington, Evangelicalism and Fundamentalism in the United Kingdom in the Twentieth Century (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013). Its a book containing twenty essays examining different aspects of the evangelical movement in the twentieth century; the common thread uniting all the chapters is the question of whether evangelicalism and fundamentalism are one and the same thing.

I've written a chapter on post-war Wales, making extensive use of the Evangelical Magazine of Wales to examine whether the Evangelical Movement of Wales, the large single evangelical network in mid to late twentieth century Wales, exhibited any tendencies in a fundamentalist direction. I conclude that they certainly displayed plenty of fundamentalist characteristics, and that the distinction between evangelicalism and fundamentalism among them was far from clear cut.

Other chapters in the volume deal with fundamentalism in the Church of England, among the Baptists, Methodists and the Brethren. Others focus on particular individuals; Billy Graham and John Stott especially. Chapters on Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales ensure that an Anglo-centric approach is avoided.

In popular discouse it is widely assumed that evangelicals and fundamentalists are pretty much the same thing. This book challenges that assumption, concluding that while fundamentalism certainly existed in Britain, that evangelicals did sometimes show tendencies in a fundamentalist direction, evangelicalism in Britain cannot be simply equated with fundamentalism.

Monday, 30 September 2013

Early Evangelicalism: A Reader

Jonathan Yeager's, Early Evangelicalism: A Reader (New York: OUP, 2013) is an important volume and will be especailly useful for all those who teach university level courses on evangelicalism or the various aspects of the movement which intersect with other areas of historical interest.

Although its not marketed as such, this volume may possibly be seen as a companion to the first two volumes of IVP's five volume 'History of Evangelicalism' series. Where those volumes have presented the narrative story of the origins, growth and development of the global evangelical movement, this volume allows the voices of many of the figures featured in those volumes the opportuniy to be heard for themselves.

The focus in this volume is therefore the eighteenth-century evangelical movement in the British Isles and America.Yeager has collected 62 short extracts, each three or four pages in length, from well-known and sometimes less well-known, evangelicals. Whitefield, Wesley, Edwards, Hannah More and Wilberforce all figure, but here also are the voices of Howel Harris, William Williams, John Cennick, Anne Steele, Isaac Backus, Phillis Wheatley and many others. Each extract is helpfully contextualised and the volume is prefaced with a short introductory essay, briefly exploring the nature of eighteenth-century evangelical religion.

This is a beautifully presented book, which deserves a wide readership, and which will undoubtedly prove to be invaluable for those of us that try to introduce the study of evangelicalism to slightly nonplused undergraduate students!

Sunday, 8 September 2013

Whitefield at 300: conference programme published

The deadline for papers for the George Whitefield tercentenary conference at Pembroke College, Oxford, in June 2014, passed last week. The response was fantastic, and we now have forty speakers lined up for the gathering.

A draft programme has been published here, as are details for those who wish to register and attend the conference.