You are warmly invited to Spurgeon’s College for a special event on 4th December 2019…
Christian Mission and the Abolition of God –Learning from History
Special guest speaker Professor Alec
Ryrie will give two lectures, the first on the early history of (or
lack of) protestant mission, the second on the recent history of un-belief:
11.15 – 12.45 ‘Evangelicals against Evangelism: Why Early Protestants Were Not Missionaries’
13.45 – 15.30 ‘Jesus, Hitler and the Abolition of God’
The event will be followed by marking the publication of
Professor Ryrie’s new book, Unbelievers – An Emotional History of Doubt (copies
will be available for purchase at the end of the event). (This paper will be followed
by a short response from Nick Spencer, senior fellow of Theos Thinktank).
Alec Ryrie is the Professor of the History of Christianity at Durham University , a co-editor of the Journal of Ecclesiastical History, and the author of numerous highly acclaimed books. He is a Fellow of the British Academy (2019- ), the Gresham Professor of Divinity (2018-21), and the President of the Ecclesiastical History Society (2019-20).
Both lectures will be open
and free to the public, although donations are welcome. Lunch will be available
between the two sessions. Lunches start at £2 per person. Please confirm your attendance by 12pm on 29 November and let us know
if you plan to purchase a lunch.
Live streaming will be available (by prior request only) for those who cannot attend in person. You will need to book as described above and provide us with a valid email address. A link will be sent to the email address provided within 24 hours of the event start time.
You will need a device capable of streaming a live video feed, access to a web browser and a stable internet connection in order to participate in live streaming. Please note that we cannot be responsible for individual technical issues on the day.
Abstracts of the papers:
‘Evangelicals Against Evangelism: Why Early Protestants Were Not Missionaries’
gospel to all peoples has been part of Protestant and evangelical identity from
the Reformation onwards. But until the eighteenth century, there was very
little Protestant cross-cultural missionary work – and this at a time when
energetic Roman Catholic missions were putting down deep roots all round the
globe. This lecture will ask why, concentrating on the handful of exceptions to
the general rule – attempted Protestant missions in North America, Sri Lanka,
Taiwan, South Africa and even the unsettled fringes of Europe. It will look at
the structural and institutional obstacles to early Protestant mission, at the
theological and conceptual barriers that had to be overcome, and at how the
tempo finally came to change. The story suggests how cultural preconceptions of
what mission is can, in practice, predetermine the outcome.’
‘Jesus, Hitler and the Abolition of God’
‘In the last half-century
the mainstream culture in Britain and many other western societies has, as the anarchist
philosopher Mikhail Bakunin predicted, decided to abolish God. This lecture will
trace the roots of this momentous shift back to the religious crises of the Reformation
and the Enlightenment, arguing that this is a story not about science or metaphysics,
but about emotion and about ethics. In particular, the shattering impact of the
seminal moral event of our age – the Second World War – has left secularism feeling
intuitively and emotionally compelling in much of the western world. This lecture
will trace the story down to our own times and ask where the emotional history of
belief and unbelief might be going next.’
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