News, Theology

Ten Theology Books to Watch For – December 2020

Here are some excellent new theology books * that will be released in December 2020 :

* broadly interpreted, including ethics, church history, biblical studies, and other areas that intersect with theology

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Theology Books December 2020

Reformed Resurgence: The New Calvinist Movement and the Battle Over American Evangelicalism

Brad Vermulen

Oxford UP

One of the most significant developments within contemporary American Christianity, especially among younger evangelicals, is a groundswell of interest in the Reformed tradition. In Reformed Resurgence, Brad Vermurlen provides a comprehensive sociological account of this phenomenon known as New Calvinism and what it entails for the broader evangelical landscape in the United States.

Vermurlen develops a new theory for understanding how conservative religion can be strong and thrive in the hypermodern Western world. His paradigm uses and expands on strategic action field theory, a recent framework proposed for the study of movements and organizations that has rarely been applied to religion. This approach to religion moves beyond market dynamics and cultural happenstance and instead shows how religious strength can be fought for and won as the direct result of religious leaders’ strategic actions and conflicts. But the battle comes at a cost. For the same reasons conservative Calvinistic belief is experiencing a resurgence, present-day American evangelicalism has turned in on itself. Vermurlen argues that in the end, evangelicalism in the United States consists of pockets of subcultural and local strength within the “cultural entropy” of secularization, as religious meanings and coherence fall apart.



Bargain Theology Books
 
Theology Books December 2020

The Afterlife of St Cuthbert: Place, Texts and Ascetic Tradition, 690–1500

Christiania Whitehead

Cambridge UP

This ambitious book presents the first sustained analysis of the evolving representation of Cuthbert, the premier saint of northern England. The study spans both major and neglected texts across eight centuries, from his earliest depictions in anonymous and Bedan vitae, through twelfth-century ecclesiastical histories and miracle collections produced at Durham, to his late medieval appearances in Latin meditations, legendaries, and vernacular verse. Whitehead reveals the coherence of these texts as one tradition, exploring the way that ideologies and literary strategies persist across generations. An innovative addition to the literature of insular spirituality and hagiography, The Afterlife of St Cuthbert emphasises the related categories of place and asceticism. It charts Cuthbert’s conceptual alignment with a range of institutional, masculine, northern, and national spaces, and examines the distinctive characteristics and changing value of his ascetic lifestyle and environment – frequently constituted as a nature sanctuary – interrogating its relation to his other jurisdictions.

*** Which of these December 2020 theology books do you want to read first?

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C. Christopher Smith is the founding editor of The Englewood Review of Books. He is also author of a number of books, including most recently How the Body of Christ Talks: Recovering the Practice of Conversation in the Church (Brazos Press, 2019). Connect with him online at: C-Christopher-Smith.com


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