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Exploring Ordinary Theology

'Ordinary theology' characterizes the reflective God-talk of the great majority of churchgoers, and others who remain largely untouched by the assumptions, concepts and arguments that academic theology takes for granted. Jeff Astley coined the phrase in his innovative study, Ordinary Theology: Looking, Listening and Learning in Theology, arguing that 'speaking statistically ordinary theology is the theology of God's Church'. A number of scholars have responded to this and related conceptualizations, exploring their theological implications. Other researchers have adopted the perspective in examining a range of Church practices and contexts of Christian discipleship, using the tools of empirical study. Ordinary theology research has proved to be key in uncovering people's everyday lay theology or ordinary dogmatics. Exploring Ordinary Theology presents fresh contributions from a wide range of authors, who address the theological, empirical and practical dimensions of this central feature of ordinary Christian existence and the life of the Church.
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Table of Contents

Contents: Preface; The analysis, investigation and application of ordinary theology, Jeff Astley; Part I Reflecting on Ordinary Theology: Analytical and Theological Perspectives: Ordinary theology, theological method and constructive ecclesiology, Nicholas M. Healy; Ordinary theology as a "mother tonguea (TM), Anthony Lees-Smith; Deconversion and ordinary theology: a Catholic study, Tom Beaudoin and J. Patrick Hornbeck II; Ordinary theology and the learning conversation with academic theology, Jeff Astley; Power in the local Church: locating the implicit, Martyn Percy; Ordinary theologians as signal processors of the spirit, Michael Armstrong. Part II Researching and Situating Ordinary Theology: Empirical and Contextual Perspectives: Jesus as exemplar, Ann Christie; Ordinary readers and reader perspectives on sacred texts: drawing on empirical theology and Jungian psychology, Leslie J. Francis; Extraordinary eschatology: insights from ordinary theologians, Michael Armstrong; Ordinary theology and the British Assemblies of God doctrinal tradition: a qualitative study, Mark J. Cartledge; Congregational hermeneutics: towards virtuous apprenticeship, Andrew Rogers; The Bible and ordinary readers, Andrew Village; How far is it to Bethlehem? Exploring the ordinary theology of occasional churchgoers, David Walker; Ordinary prayer and the activity of God: reading a cathedral prayer board, Tania ap SiA'n; A tune beyond us, yet ourselves: ordinary worship and ordinary theology, Bridget Nichols; A study in ordinary theological ethics: thinking about eating, Matthew Barton and Rachel Muers; Ordinary discipleship, Roger L. Walton; Sharing friendship: Goda (TM)s love in ordinary church life, John B. Thomson; Ordinary learning, Helen Savage; Ordinary theology as process: a phenomenographic approach, Grant Barclay; Indexes.

About the Author

Jeff Astley was appointed as Founding Director of the North of England Institute for Christian Education in 1981. He is Honorary Professorial Fellow in Practical Theology and Christian Education at Durham University, and visiting professor at Glyndwr University and York St John University. He is the author or editor of over thirty books on Christian education, practical theology or religious faith. Recent books include: Ordinary Theology (Ashgate, 2002), Exploring God-Talk (Darton, Longman and Todd, 2004), Christ of the Everyday (SPCK, 2007), and the SCM Studyguide to Christian Doctrine (SCM, 2010). Leslie J. Francis is Professor of Religions and Education within the Warwick Religions and Education Research Unit, University of Warwick, and Canon Theologian at Bangor Cathedral, Wales. He is the author or editor of over fifty books, and has authored or co-authored over five hundred papers, mainly within empirical and practical theology, the psychology of religion and empirical psychology. Recent books include Faith and Psychology (Darton, Longman and Todd, 2005), Urban Hope and Spiritual Health (Epworth, 2005), British Methodism (Epworth, 2006), Gone for Good (Epworth, 2007), and Preaching with all our Soul (Continuum, 2008). Jeff Astley and Leslie Francis have collaborated in editing a number of collections of original essays in Practical Theology and Christian Education, most recently The Idea of a Christian University (Paternoster, 2004), Religion, Education and Adolescence (University of Wales Press, 2005), Peace or Violence (University of Wales Press, 2007), Empirical Theology in Texts and Tables (Brill, 2009), and Teaching Religion, Teaching Truth (forthcoming). Jeff Astley, Nicholas M. Healy, Anthony Lees-Smith, Tom Beaudoin, J. Patrick Hornbeck II, Martyn Percy, Michael Armstrong, Ann Christie, Leslie J. Francis, Mark J. Cartledge, Andrew Rogers, Andrew Village, David Walker, Tania ap Sion, Bridget Nichols, Matthew Barton, Rachel Muers, Roger L. Walton, John B. Thomson, Helen Savage, Grant Barclay.


'This volume demonstrates how ordinary theology is rapidly becoming one of the most exciting and innovative areas in Practical Theology.' Pete Ward, King's College London, UK 'This extraordinary collection of articles Exploring Ordinary Theology is a must-read, showing the real significance of listening to what ordinary reflective Christians believe - consulting the faithful - in order to understand how diversely the tradition can be lived in and lived out.' Terrence W. Tilley, Fordham University, USA 'I found this volume very stimulating reading for two reasons. The first is from an academic perspective: as someone who is interested in practical theological research, there was much food for critical reflection. The second is as a preacher: this book is a helpful reminder of the difference between the official teachings of the church and what many ordinary Christians and churchgoers actually believe ...I would therefore commend it both to those with an academic interest in practical theology and also to any who wish to critically reflect on their own preaching.' Anvil '...a new collection of essays developing the idea of ordinary theology further, through empirical research and its application. For those who have not encountered ordinary theology before it is an ideal place to start. For those who have explored it for a decade there are new resources and insights.' Journal of Adult Theological Education '... valuable volume... The twenty-one essays, divided into two parts, of almost consistent high quality and interest, provide a useful survey of and introduction to the field.' Theology 'This is a fascinating group of essays, exploring the nature and nurture of Christian belief at a local level. It is a (wake-up) call to listen carefully to the way Christian faith is articulated amongst those many of us serve and ministry.' Regent's Reviews 'Scholars and students in a variety of theological studies should find this volume very helpful.' Theological Studies

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