Book launch explores how Baptists do theology together
The official launch of a book charting the denominational reforms of the 1990s drew an audience of 80 participants to reflect on a key period of Baptist life and ask important questions about how Baptists do theology today
The book by the Revd Dr Andy Goodliff is an examination of the “Listening Day Process” of the early 1990s, the most recent Denominational Consultation of 1996, together with key reports presented to the Baptist Union Council at the end of the last century, “Transforming Superintendency”, “Relating and Resourcing” and “The Nature of Council and the Assembly”.
The book, Renewing a Modern Denomination: A Study of Baptist Institutional Life in the 1990s, published by Wipf and Stock, is a revision of Andy's doctoral thesis submitted to the University of St Andrews and supervised by Baptist theologian, the Revd Dr Stephen Holmes.
In the book Andy identifies two streams of thought at work at the heart of the movement for renewal of the British Baptist Union following the appointment of David Coffey as General Secretary and Keith Jones as Deputy General Secretary.
Andy charts the work of theologians such as Professor Paul Fiddes and Dr Brian Haymes arguing the case for a renewal of covenantal relationships as the basis of Union life in local churches, associations and the Union itself and the thoughts of Dr Nigel Wright, the Revd Douglas McBain and others pressing for a more missional construct for Baptist life together.
At the book launch, hosted by Regent’s Park College, Oxford: Centre for Baptist Studies and The Baptist Historical Society, three respondents commented on the thesis of the book from varying perspectives: Professor Paul Fiddes, as someone intimately involved in the events of the 1990s; the Revd Dr Lina Toth, Assistant Principal of the Scottish Baptist College and originally from Lithuania, as an interested outsider; and the Revd Tony Peck, General Secretary of the EBF, who served on the Baptist Union Council during the period and moderated a group charged with assessing the reforms and their implementation.
Following these perspectives, Andy responded to the comments made and there was a wide-ranging question and answer session.
The book launch was co-chaired by Dr Christine Joynes, Director of the Centre for Baptist Studies and the Revd Dr Keith G Jones, President of the Baptist Historical Society.
Commenting on the book launch, Christine said, 'This was a valuable opportunity not only to reflect on a key period of Baptist institutional developments in the 1990s, but also to ask important questions about how Baptists do theology together today.
'Andy’s book is a significant achievement and provides many important insights for understanding how Baptist identity has been shaped.’