Renewing a modern denomination : a study of Baptist institutional life in the 1990s
Author(s)Goodliff, Andrew Jonathan
KeywordsBaptist Union of Great Britain
Baptist Union of Great Britain
Mission of the church
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AbstractThis thesis is an exploration of the renewal of the Baptist Union of Great Britain in the 1990s. It argues that key to this renewal were two streams of thought that developed during the 1980s, one arguing more for denominational renewal from an evangelical position and the other more for theological renewal from an ecumenical and catholic position. From these two streams particular individuals — David Coffey, Nigel Wright, Paul Fiddes and Brian Haymes — were influential in the discussions within the Union that took place after Coffey was appointed General Secretary of the Union in 1991. These discussions centred around mission and identity, ministry and associating and ecumenical engagement. The first stream, represented by Coffey and Wright emphasised mission; and the second, represented by Fiddes and Haymes, emphasised covenant. Both mission and covenant are important markers of historic Baptist identity, the former becoming prominent in the late 18th century and the latter in the early beginnings of Baptists in the 16th century. While not antithetical to one another I show how these two emphasises pulled in different directions. An attempt was made in the subsequent changes to the structures to hold both together, but I argue that this meant neither were fully bedded into the life and members of the Union. I suggest that one of the problems here was the place and practice of theology within the Union and especially its Council.