Saturday, 29 September 2012

Teaching Modern Christian Thought


I have several research projects that I want to finish. I would like to write an article in the next few months on the religion of an eighteenth-century Scottish minister, and this summer I am planning on writing an article on early evangelicals and their relationships with printers, publishers, and booksellers. This last article will require a lot of research that I have only begun to assemble. I also am close to finishing my second book project, an anthology of transatlantic eighteenth-century evangelicals. I am about halfway done with the final editing and have collected nearly all the images and permission rights for the book. But I have put all these writing projects aside the last week or so in order to prepare for my spring 2013 courses, "The Faiths of the Founding Fathers" and "Modern Christian Thought."

Most recently, I have been working on "Modern Christian Thought." This is a course that I taught in the fall of 2011. When I looked for a textbook, I had difficulty choosing among the available options. There is a very good two-volume series on Modern Christian Thought, published by Fortress Press. But these books are massive (the first volume is over 400 pages, and the second is over 500 pages) and cover lots of thinkers who I have no intention of going over in the course. I came to the same conclusion with regard to Gareth Jones's Blackwell Companion to Modern Theology and David Ford's The Modern Theologians. These are very helpful resources for teachers, but not concise enough for undergraduate courses. I almost convinced myself to use John E. Wilson's excellent Introduction to Modern Theology as a textbook, but about one-third of the way through, I realized that it would be more suitable for graduate students due to the complexity of the arguments discussed.

While I appreciate Roger Olson's and Stan Grenz's award-winning 20th-Century Theology, I don't feel comfortable using it at a state university. Since this book is clearly written from an evangelical perspective, it seems more fitting for Christian colleges and seminaries. But if Olson and Grenz show a bias towards traditional Christian theology, the opposite may be said of Duane Olson and his Issues in Contemporary Christian Thought. I commend the author for writing a textbook on modern theology designed for undergraduates. If only he had treated traditional Christianity fairly, perhaps his book would have wider appeal. The latest book I considered was Kelly Kapic's and Bruce McCormack's edited volume, Mapping Modern Theology: A Thematic and Historical Interpretation. The problem here had to do with its methodology. As opposed to a thematic approach, I prefer having the students study each theologian individually and chronologically.

In the end, I decided to use the Fortress Press readers on leading 19th- and 20th-century thinkers. I plan on requiring the students to read several sections by five modern theologians. Last year I had them analyze excerpts from Schleiermacher, Hegel, Bultmann, Barth, and Bonhoeffer (Bonhoeffer was the overwhelming favorite). If Mark Noll's The Princeton Theology: 1812-1921 was not out of print, I would have included excerpts from Charles Hodge and B. B. Warfield. This year I am replacing Hegel with the German church historian, Adolf von Harnack. As important as Hegel is to modern Christian thought, the students in my previous class bemoaned reading sections in his Phenomenology of Spirit and his Lectures on the Philosophy of Religion. As they read these primary sources, I have them answer questions on aspects of a particular author's theology, writing half-page responses in an essay format.

Besides readings from these primary sources, I have the students do research on an additional theologian or movement of their choice and then present their findings to the class. The last time I taught Modern Christian Thought, I had them choose from among the following: Karl Rahner, Albrecht Ritschl, Paul Tillich, Reinhold Niebuhr, Jurgen Moltmann, Liberation Theology, Feminist Theology, John Hick, and Joseph Ratzinger. Next spring, however, I may expand this list to include Charles Hodge, Soren Kierkegaard, and Walter Rauschenbusch.

Conference on Faith and History Meeting

The biennial meeting of the Conference on Faith and History at Wenham, MA (October 3-6) is fast approaching.

The student conference is first, and I'm proud to say that a UTC student, Jenny Edwards, will be presenting a paper on Thursday, October 4 entitled, "Miracles in the Modern World: A Case Study of Bethel Church." Jenny is a superstar honors student at UTC who is writing a thesis under my supervision on Bethel Church.

At the professional conference, I look forward to hearing papers from Carlos Eire, Mike Kugler, Ken Minkema, and Mark Noll (among others).

On Saturday, October 6 at 10:30am, I will be participating in Session #32 on "Print Culture in Early America." The panel will be chaired by Adrian Chastain Weimer of Providence College. Here is the lineup of papers:

  • Jonathan Yeager, University of Tennessee, Chattanooga: “Eighteenth-Century Evangelical Progression through the Dissemination of Books”
  • Samuel Smith, Liberty University: “Charleston’s Holy Club”
  • T.J. Tomlin, University of Northern Colorado: “Popular Culture and Religious Authority in Early America”
In participating in this panel, I wanted to support my friend Sam Smith, who has a book coming out in February with the University of South Carolina Press entitled, A Cautious Enthusiasm: Mystical Piety and Evangelicalism in Colonial South Carolina. I'm really excited for Sam and his first book, and I hope that it is well received.

Unfortunately, I won't be able hear Andy Tooley's talk on “Reimagining Religion: The Romantic Flowering of Transatlantic Evangelicalism” since his session meets at the same time as mine.

Thursday, 27 September 2012

D. G. Hart at UTC

Today (September 27), D. G. Hart will be speaking at UTC on the topic: "What Makes the Religious Right Different from Political Islam?" Daryl is Visiting Professor of History at Hillsdale College, and is the first LeRoy Martin Distinguished Lecturer of the academic year. His talk today comes out of his new book, From Billy Graham to Sarah Palin: Evangelicals and the Betrayal of  American Conservativism. His lecture should spark some interesting discussion. The public is invited, and so if you are nearby please feel free to join us. More information on the lecture series, including times and parking can be found here.

The overall theme for the fall's lecture series is religion and politics. After Daryl, John Fea will be speaking on October 9 on "Was America Founded as a Christian Nation?," which is based on his recent book. After Fea, Amanda Porterfield will be speaking on "Conceived in Doubt: Religion and Politics in the New American Nation," which is also a topic stemming from a recent book. I'm excited that UTC will be hosting these distinguished scholars.


Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Books on the Founding Fathers

Next semester (spring 2013), I will be teaching a course entitled, "The Faiths of the Founding Fathers." I have in mind to use Frank Lambert's book, The Founding Fathers and the Place of Religion in America as well as Thomas Kidd's and Matthew Harris's The Founding Fathers and the Debate over Religion in America (I came back around on this documentary reader. As I finished up Lambert's book, I noticed that many of the readings in Kidd and Harris coincided nicely). I am also fairly sure that I will use Brooke Allen's Moral Minority: Our Skeptical Founding Fathers. What I am not sure about is what other books I should use.

I am considering having the whole class read the three books listed above, and then three other books on the religion of George Washington (Mary Thompson's "In the Hands of Good Providence"), Benjamin Franklin (Kerry Walter's Benjamin Franklin and His Gods), and Thomas Jefferson (Edwin Gaustad's Sworn on the Altar of God). Each student would then choose one other book on a Founding Father to write a book review. At the end of the course, students would write a comparative paper on the religions of the three Founding Fathers above plus the additional book that they read.

I was surprised that there are not all that many current books on the Founding Fathers beyond Washington, Franklin, Adams, Jefferson, and Madison. The list below are the books that I have found. Would anyone be willing to weigh in on the books below? Are there other books I should consider for students to read? Can anyone recommend some journal articles to consult?


Abigail Adams
            Holton, Woody. Abigail Adams. Free Press, 2009.
Levin, Phyllis Lee. Abigail Adams: A Biography. St. Martin’s Griffin, 2001.
Withey, Lynne. Dearest Friend: A Life of Abigail Adams. Touchstone, 2002.

John Adams
            Ferling, John. John Adams: A Life. Oxford, 2010.
McCullough, David. John Adams. Simon & Schuster, 2001.

Samuel Adams
            Alexander, John. Samuel Adams: The Life of an American Revolutionary. Rowman &
                        Littlefield, 2011
Fowler, William M., Jr. Samuel Adams: Radical Puritan. Longman, 1997.
            Stoll, Ira. Samuel Adams: A Life. Free Press, 2008.

Ethan Allen
            Randall, Willard Sterne. Ethan Allen: His Life and Times. W. W. Norton, 2011.

Aaron Burr, Jr.
Isenberg, Nancy. Fallen Founder: The Life of Aaron Burr. Penguin, 2008.
Stewart, David O. American Emperor: Aaron Burr’s Challenge to Jefferson’s America.
            Simon and Schuster, 2011.

Charles Carroll
            Birzer, Bradley J. American Cicero: The Life of Charles Carroll. Intercollegiate Studies,
                        2010.
            McDermott, Scott. Charles Carroll of Carrollton: Faithful Revolutionary. Scepter, 2001.

John Dickinson
            Flower, Milton E. John Dickinson: Conservative Revolutionary. University of Virginia,
                        1983.

Benjamin Franklin
            Isaacson, Walter. Benjamin Franklin: An American Life. Simon & Schuster, 2003.
            Wood, Gordon. The Americanization of Benjamin Franklin. Penguin, 2004.

Alexander Hamilton
            Chernow, Ron. Alexander Hamilton. Penguin, 2005.
            McDonald, Forrest. Alexander Hamilton: A Biography. W. W. Norton, 1982.
            Randall, Willard Sterne. Alexander Hamilton: A Life. Harper, 2003.

Patrick Henry
            Kidd, Thomas S. Patrick Henry: First Among Patriots. Basic Books, 2011.

John Jay
            Stahr, Walter. John Jay, Founding Father. Hambledon and London, 2005.

Thomas Jefferson
            Bernstein, R. B. Thomas Jefferson. Oxford, 2005.
Ellis, Joseph J. American Sphinx: The Character of Thomas Jefferson. Vintage, 1998.
           
Dolley Madison
            Allgor, Catherine. A Perfect Union: Dolley Madison and the Creation of the American
                        Nation. Holt, 2007.           
            Cote, Richard N. Strength and Honor: The Life of Dolley Maison. Corinthian, 2004.

James Madison
            Broadwater, Jeff. James Madison: A Son of Virginia and a Founder of the Nation. UNC,                          2012.
Brookhiser, Richard. James Madison. Basic Books, 2011.
            Gutzman, Kevin R. C. James Madison and the Making of America. St. Martin’s Press,
                        2012.
            Labunski, Richard. James Madison and the Struggle for the Bill of Rights. Oxford, 2008.
            McCoy, Drew R. The Last of the Fathers: James Madison and the Republic Legacy.
                        Cambridge, 1991.

Gouverneur Morris
            Adams, William Howard. Gouverneur Morris: An Independent Life. Yale, 2003.

Thomas Paine
            Kaye, Harvey J. Thomas Paine and the Promise of America. Hill and Wang, 2006.
Nelson, Craig. Thomas Paine: Enlightenment, Revolution, and the Birth of Modern                                     Nations. Penguin, 2007.          

Benjamin Rush
            Brodsky, Alyn. Benjamin Rush: Patriot and Physician. Truman Talley, 2004.
            Hawke, David Freeman. Benjamin Rush: Revolutionary Gadfly. Bobbs Merrill, 1971.

Roger Sherman
            Hall, Mark David. Roger Sherman and the Creation of the American Republic. Oxford,
                        2012.

George Washington
            Ellis, Joseph J. His Excellency: George Washington. Vintage, 2005.
            Longman, Paul K. The Invention of George Washington. University of Virginia, 1999.
            Novak, Michael and Jana. Washington’s God: Religion, Liberty, and the Father of Our
                        Country. Basic Books, 2006.

John Witherspoon
            Tait, Gordon L. The Piety of John Witherspoon: Pew, Pulpit, and Public Forum. Geneva
                        Press, 2001.

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Bemjamin Rush

For the past several weeks I have been finishing up a journal article. In writing the article, I did some research on Benjamin Rush, soon discovering that there is not much scholarship on him.

I was surprised to see so few books on Rush. Besides being a signer of the Declaration of Independence, and the person who helped reconcile John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, he had an interesting career as a physician and patriot. He was instrumental in securing John Witherspoon as the president of the College of New Jersey and Charles Nisbet as the principal of Dickinson College. David Barton and Alyn Brodsky,  have written books about Rush, but the standard biography is by David F. Hawke.

In terms of his religion, Rush at first associated with the evangelicals. He was the nephew of Samuel Finley and seemed to have been influenced by the preaching of revivalists during the Great Awakening. Later in life, however, Rush adhered to a more liberal faith, at one time claiming to be a Unitarian.

I hope that Rush receives the scholarly attention that he deserves in the near future. It would be great if someone thoroughly analyzes his faith.

Friday, 21 September 2012

New Review of Enlightened Evangelicalism in the Journal of Ecclesiastical History

Isabel Rivers of the University of London has written a nice (brief) review of Enlightened Evangelicalism in the Journal of Ecclesiastical History.

Here it is:


This is the first full length study for almost 200 years of the Scottish evangelical Calvinist minister John Erskine (1721–1803). There are recent accounts of the Popular party in the Church of Scotland, including Erskine, by John R. McIntosh and Ned C. Landsman (who also wrote the ODNB article), but this is an original and well researched intellectual biography of Erskine that adds considerably to our knowledge and that will appeal to a range of readers with interests in eighteenth-century Scottish theology and religious culture, evangelicalism, transatlantic relations, and the circulation of books. Yeager provides chapters on Erskine's decision to train for the ministry, influenced by the Cambuslang and Kilsyth revivals and the impact of George Whitefield in Scotland; his methods as preacher, in comparison with those of William Robertson and Hugh Blair; his orthodox Calvinist theology, modified by evangelical emphasis on the need to preach the gospel to all; his controversial writings against both John Wesley's anti-Calvinism and Roman Catholicism; his American friendships, notably (by correspondence) with Jonathan Edwards, and his support of the American side in the Revolution; and his role as disseminator of books. Yeager is clear that Erskine's importance is not as preacher, theologian, or controversialist (though he has interesting things to say about all these roles) but as propagator of evangelical Calvinist books and ideas. Through the study of booksellers' catalogues, Erskine's manuscript correspondence, and his editions and published recommendations of other writers' works, Yeager spells out in fascinating detail Erskine's responsibility for publishing Edwards's works in Scotland, supplying thousands of English and Scottish books to American ministers and colleges, recommending reading to English Baptists, sending American and British books to Holland, attempting (unsuccessfully) to get English and American readers to study Dutch theology, and urging others to write in defence of evangelical Calvinist principles. Like his bĂȘte noire Wesley (though Yeager does not make this comparison) Erskine saw that to be widely read books had to be affordable. The main weakness of this study is Yeager's tendency to repeat the claim that Erskine's life's work is a manifestation of the Enlightenment, a term that is in danger of losing all meaning. The account of Erskine's attack on Wesley, though it shows convincingly why Methodism failed in Scotland, does not properly explain why Wesley thought the doctrine of predestination was poisonous. 

 I'll be sweating Tommy Kidd's review of the book, which is scheduled to be published in the Scottish Journal of Theology sometime in the future.

Saturday, 15 September 2012

Sir Henry Moncreiff Wellwood

This year I was put on a book budget by my wife. I had spent far too much money last year. But the good news is that I earned some money from a few awards this year and so we agreed that I could set aside this money to purchase books.

For the past few years, I have wanted to buy some antiquarian books, and, if possible, an authentic letter from one of the 18th-century evangelicals who I have studied. Manuscript letters for sale are almost always outrageously expensive, and usually outside the budget of a humble assistant professor's salary. However, I was able to purchase a letter from Sir Henry Moncreiff Wellwood to his publisher Thomas Cadell, dated July 1793, for a reasonable price. As a scholar who is interested in the history of the book, I found this letter to be particularly important. It provides the monetary arrangement between the two men for Moncreiff's edited volume of Robert Henry's History of Great Britain (1771–93). In the letter, Moncreiff acknowledges receipt of £420, a decent chunk of change (though by no means excessive) back then.

After purchasing the letter, I came up with the idea of mounting an image of Moncreiff next to the manuscript. I thought that I would simply print the TIFF image of a caricature taken from John Kay's Originial Portraits that I had scanned a few years ago. But first I decided to do a search on the web to see if there were any other images of Moncreiff available. To my surprise, I found an antique dealer in London selling a print of Moncreiff from 1812 for a pittance. Today, I had the pleasure of placing both images in frames that will hang in my office, beginning this Monday.

The image shown at the top of the page is the print that I purchased. It is taken from a painting by Sir Henry Raeburn. The original painting by Raeburn hangs over the fireplace inside Tullibole Castle (pictured above). I visited the castle several years ago, when I was doing research on John Erskine, the subject of my first book. The current Lord and Lady Moncreiff allowed me to look at Moncreiff's papers for information pertaining to Erskine. Moncrieff wrote an Account of the Life and Writings of John Erskine (1818), which was essential for my research on Erskine.


Sir Henry Moncreiff Wellwood is another influential early evangelical who has received virtually no scholarly attention. There is a mountain of manuscripts on Moncrieff held at Tullibole Castle awaiting a future scholar who is interested in writing a dissertation, book, or journal articles on this important Scottish minister and aristocrat.


Thursday, 13 September 2012

John Turner Comments on Phillis Wheatley Review

Over at the Anxious Bench blog, John Turner comments on my review of Vincent Carretta's Phillis Wheatley: Biography of a Genius in Bondage in Books & Culture. I told John that I thoroughly enjoyed Phillis Wheatley, and perhaps I did not give Carretta enough credit for the strengths of the book. That being said, I reiterate my desire for Carretta to have provided more analysis on the faith of Phillis and her owners, which seems to me to have been a significant part of the story. Perhaps someone else will write a journal article or monograph on this aspect of Phillis Wheatley.

Saturday, 8 September 2012

Faculty Job

Iliff School of Theology

Assistant Professor - History of Christianity

Area of Expertise: Area of specialization is open but preference will be given to those with expertise in the ancient or early medieval period.  Facility with the languages, sources, and context appropriate to the area of expertise is expected.  The successful candidate will have responsibility for introductory courses covering the early and medieval periods and is expected to enrich the range and depth of course offerings in the PhD program, which is jointly administered with the University of Denver.   We envision the holder of this position being an active contributor to the doctoral program’s Biblical Interpretation concentration (a major emphasis of this concentration is New Testament and Christian Origins).

Desired Strengths:  The ideal candidate will possess in-depth expertise in some aspect and/or region of Christian history but also be able to relate their scholarship to broader issues in the study of religion and theology, as well as areas of concern that are central to the school, such as bringing the study of history to bear on contemporary concerns related to social justice, interreligious dialogue, and the diversity of global Christianity.  We seek a candidate who will enable our students to think historically and encourage M.Div. students to incorporate the history of their tradition into the practice of ministry.

Responsibilities:
  • Teach on a full-time basis over three quarters per academic year (normally five courses) in Iliff’s various masters programs as well as the University of Denver/Iliff Joint Ph.D. program. 
  • Read and direct MA theses and dissertations
  • Teach in Iliff’s online programs
  • Advise PhD students concerning the academic and professional aspects of their work
  • Conduct a research and publication program appropriate to the field
  • Participate in appropriate professional societies and meetings
  • Participate in school governance and administration through various committees and councils
  • Provide service to appropriate professional organizations and publishing houses
  • Work with churches (local or judicatory) and/or community boards and agencies
  • Teach laity or clergy outside the Iliff curriculum


The Iliff School of Theology is a United Methodist-related graduate theological school with an ecumenical and interfaith spirit offering the following degrees: Master of Divinity, Master of Arts, Master of Theological Studies, Masters of Arts in Social Change; Masters of Arts in Pastoral and Spiritual Care.  In addition we offer a Ph.D. in Religious and Theological Studies with the University of Denver.  Iliff is an equal opportunity employer and strives to include diversity in its faculty and teaching, including racial, ethnic, gender, sexual orientation, and cultural diversity, and is committed to becoming a more globally conscious and globally connected community.  For more information, visit us at www.iliff.edu.

Applications should include a letter, curriculum vitae, and three letters of reference.  For fullest consideration, candidates should submit all materials by October 10, 2012.  Applications may be sent by email to historysearch@iliff.edu or mailed to Professor Pamela Eisenbaum, Chair, History of Christianity Search, Iliff School of Theology, 2201 S. University Blvd., Denver, CO  80210.

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Faculty Jobs

Baylor University, Department of Religion

Reformation Studies

Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas, Baylor University is the oldest university in Texas and the world’s largest Baptist University. Baylor’s mission is to educate men and women for worldwide leadership and service by integrating academic excellence and Christian commitment within a caring community. Baylor is actively recruiting new faculty with a strong commitment to the classroom and an equally strong commitment to discovering new knowledge as Baylor aspires to become a top tier research university while reaffirming and strengthening its distinctive Christian mission as described in Pro Futuris.
Baylor seeks to fill the following faculty position in the Department of Religion.
POSITION: Associate or Full Professor
QUALIFICATIONS: Ph.D., teaching experience, and established research agenda are required. Preference will be given to candidates who are active in the Baptist tradition.
RESPONSIBILITIES: The position is a tenured or tenure-track position in Historical Studies in the area of Reformations/Early Modern Europe. Participation in department and university assignments is expected.
RANK AND SALARY: Commensurate with experience and qualifications.
SUBMISSION DEADLINE: Applications will be reviewed beginning 10/15/2012 and will be accepted until the position is filled. To ensure full consideration, complete applications must be submitted by 10/15/2012.
APPLICATION PROCEDURE: Please submit a letter of application, current curriculum vitae, and transcripts. Include names, addresses, and phone numbers of three individuals from whom you have requested letters of recommendation to:
Dr. Doug Weaver
Reformation Search Committee
Baylor University
One Bear Place #97284
Waco, Texas 76798-7284
254-710-3735
Materials may be submitted electronically to: Joyce_Swoveland@baylor.edu.
Baylor is a Baptist university affiliated with the Baptist General Convention of Texas. As an Affirmative Action/Equal Employment Opportunity employer, Baylor encourages minorities, women, veterans, and persons with disabilities to apply.

 

Baylor University, Department of Religion

Lecturer

Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas, Baylor University is the oldest university in Texas and the world’s largest Baptist University. Baylor’s mission is to educate men and women for worldwide leadership and service by integrating academic excellence and Christian commitment within a caring community. Baylor is actively recruiting new faculty with a strong commitment to the classroom and an equally strong commitment to discovering new knowledge as Baylor aspires to become a top tier research university while reaffirming and strengthening its distinctive Christian mission as described in Pro Futuris.
Baylor seeks to fill the following faculty position in the Department of Religion
POSITION: Lecturer
QUALIFICATIONS: Ph.D. and teaching experience required. Research agenda preferred. Preference will be given to candidates who are active in the Baptist tradition.
RESPONSIBILITIES: Non-tenured, non-tenure-track position emphasizing teaching in Christian Ethics and general education courses. Participation in department and university assignments is expected.
RANK AND SALARY: Commensurate with experience and qualifications.
SUBMISSION DEADLINE: Applications will be reviewed beginning 10/15/2012, and will be accepted until the position is filled. To ensure full consideration, complete applications must be submitted by 10/15/2012.
APPLICATION PROCEDURE: Please submit a letter of application, current curriculum vitae, and transcripts. Include names, addresses, and phone numbers of three individuals from whom you have requested letters of recommendation to:
Dr. Jonathan Tran
Lecturer Search Committee
Baylor University
One Bear Place #97284
Waco, Texas 76798-7284
254-710-3758
Materials may be submitted electronically to: Joyce_Swoveland@baylor.edu
Baylor is a Baptist university affiliated with the Baptist General Convention of Texas. As an Affirmative Action/Equal Employment Opportunity employer, Baylor encourages minorities, women, veterans, and persons with disabilities to apply.