Posted on30 November 2017
Trajectories: Boundaries and Diversity in Evangelicalism. Symposium
In September, ACT hosted a Symposium around the recent work of Dr Geoff Treloar: The Disruption of Evangelicalism (2016, IVP).
The Keynote speakers, along with Dr Treloar, were Dr Joanna Cruickshank (University of Melbourne), who spoke on Evangelical History as Disruption, and Prof. Peter Lineham (Massey University, NZ), who focused on whether Evangelicalism is an elite or populist movement.
Dr Treloar’s keynote address expounded on the themes of his book, furthering the arguments around issues raised, such as the nature and limits of evangelicalism and the necessity of ecclesiology for comprehending the movement.
Dr Treloar reflected on the day and commented:
“I was much gratified that some twenty fellow students of the history of evangelicalism were prepared to set aside two days in September to discuss my The Disruption of Evangelicalism. Their responses were both affirming and challenging.
It was good to learn that others had found the book to be a useful survey of English-speaking evangelicalism in the half century from 1895 to 1945 and regarded ‘disruption’ as an apt descriptor of this period. At the same time careful scrutiny by good judges questioned the adequacy of the treatment of gender, race and culture as features of evangelical life while wondering whether the movement itself and the role of leaders were as coherent as I had suggested.
The various papers also showed how The Disruption furnished a platform on which to build. Meredith Lake took the discussion of evangelical Biblicism forward by directing attention to the Bible as a shaper of national culture and, in accepting that ‘the great reversal’ interpretation of early twentieth century social engagement is overstated, Stuart Piggin asked why authentic evangelicalism is always prophetic. Accounts of David Davies, Clyde Taylor and Stanley Grenz, together with the theological debates of a single year (1739), showed how detailed studies of particular evangelicals and episodes act upon, and are acted upon by, ‘big picture’ interpretations. Keith Sewell’s reflections brought into focus the pervasive interest in the nature of evangelicalism and the adequacy of the ‘Bebbington quadrilateral’ as a description of the movement. Similarly Geoff Oddie’s ‘Evangelicals in India’ raised the fundamental question of whether ‘evangelicalism in the English-speaking world’ really is a viable unit of study?
My one disappointment is that so far nobody has taken up my proposal that ‘tradition’ offers a useful way of dealing with the seemingly limitless diversity of evangelicalism. But that only means that there is still plenty to talk about, so that the discussion must continue.”
The event was well attended, and it is likely that a selection of the presentations from the symposium will be published in the future.
ACT looks forward to hosting similar events throughout 2018.