Upcoming

Molly Worthen, Assistant Professor of History, University of North, Chapel Hill

All evangelicals say that their primary — if not sole — source of religious authority is the Bible. Yet their inability to agree on what, precisely, the Bible means tells us that evangelical engagement with this text is not uniform or simple. A host of mediating influences and authorities intervene: scriptura is never, truly, sola. In recent years, scholars of American evangelicalism have focused on this question of what is really happening when their subjects say that they simply “believe the Bible.” (Worthen)

Response by David Hollinger, Preston Hotchkis Professor Emeritus of History, University of California, Berkeley.

Workshop participants are asked to read Professor Worthen’s paper, “The Bible Alone: The Sola Scriptura Problem in the Study of American Evangelicalism.” To receive the paper, please contact info.bcsr@berkeley.edu by Wednesday, April 16.

The Berkeley Public Forum on Religion is a program of the Berkeley Center for the Study of Religion (BCSR). Co-presented by the History Department’s New Voices in American History Series.

Religion in California is a two-day symposium discussing the diverse religious history of the State of California.

California has increasingly displayed a remarkable range of religious expression through its people, places, institutions, movements, and theologies, and at times when religion in the rest of America has waned. Bringing together leading scholars of religion, historians, and other academics, graduate students and practitioners, this symposium at UC Berkeley and the Graduate Theological Union provides explorations through the critical contours that have comprised the shape of Californian religion on California’s vast canvas.

Hosting a series of panel presentations and open forum discussions, plus a special lecture by Edward J. Blum, this symposium features keynote roundtable discussions with Matthew Avery Sutton (author of Aimee Semple McPherson and the Resurrection of Christian America), Lois A. Lorentzen (co-editor of On the Corner of Bliss and Nirvana) and Joy Moore (Associate Dean of African American Church Studies, Fuller Theological Seminary).

Co-sponsored by UC Berkeley’s Religion, Politics, and Globalization Programs (RPGP), the California American Studies Association (CASA), the Theological Engagement with California’s Culture Project (TECC), the Berkeley Center for the Study of Religion (BCSR), and the Graduate Theological Union (GTU).

Symposium Schedule

Continuation of a two-day symposium discussing the diverse religious history of the State of California.

California has increasingly displayed a remarkable range of religious expression through its people, places, institutions, movements, and theologies, and at times when religion in the rest of America has waned. Bringing together leading scholars of religion, historians, and other academics, graduate students and practitioners, this symposium at UC Berkeley and the Graduate Theological Union provides explorations through the critical contours that have comprised the shape of Californian religion on California’s vast canvas.

Hosting a series of panel presentations and open forum discussions, plus a special lecture by Edward J. Blum, this symposium features keynote roundtable discussions with Matthew Avery Sutton (author of Aimee Semple McPherson and the Resurrection of Christian America), Lois A. Lorentzen (co-editor of On the Corner of Bliss and Nirvana) and Joy Moore (Associate Dean of African American Church Studies, Fuller Theological Seminary).

Co-sponsored by UC Berkeley’s Religion, Politics, and Globalization Programs (RPGP), the California American Studies Association (CASA), the Theological Engagement with California’s Culture Project (TECC), the Berkeley Center for the Study of Religion (BCSR), and the Graduate Theological Union (GTU).

Symposium Schedule

Alexander Wragge-Morley, Postdoctoral Fellow, California Institute of Technology

In this talk I offer a reconsideration of the workings of one of the key claims made in the canonical physico-theological texts published in England between 1650 and 1720. These include works by Robert Boyle, William Derham, Nehemiah Grew and John Ray. It is well known that the physico-theological authors, most of whom were also practising naturalists, urged that physico-theology was distinct from other varieties of natural theology because it depended upon the evidence of the senses to help lead people to a better knowledge of God, and an improved moral disposition. My aim is to reconsider this fundamental claim in the light of a range of different types of evidence, internal and external to physico-theology, showing that this embodied theology was bound up with concerns about the affective mechanisms of sensation and cognition. Ray and his contemporaries urged that pleasure followed naturally from the apprehension of God’s beautiful and purposeful designs. At the same time, however, they recognised that many people simply failed to experience the pleasures that they found so obvious.

I will explore the responses offered by Ray and his contemporaries to this difficult dilemma, arguing that physico-theology invoked standards of taste, grounded in contemporary discourses about (what we would now call) aesthetic and stylistic judgments. I would also like to explore the possibility that the emergence of aesthetic theorizing in early eighteenth-century England owed something to the aesthetic-moral claims of physico-theology. (Wragge-Morley)

Alexander Wragge-Morley is a historian of Britain and Europe in the early modern period. Most of his research is about the history of medical and scientific ideas in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. The themes that particularly interest him include the history of the nervous system, senses and emotions; the uses of vivid imagery in scientific representations of nature; the roles of ethics and religion in scientific discourse and early modern debates about design in natural and human-made things. His sources include illustrated anatomical atlases, works of neuro-anatomy, treatises on nervous illnesses, works of rhetorical and art theory and books about architectual design.

Co-sponsored by the Department of English and the Berkeley Center for the Study of Religion.