Curtis Freeman gives Hughey Lectures
IBTSC Amsterdam hosted Hughey Lectures 2014 at the Protestant University oval room at Free University. The event brought together scholars from IBTSC, Free University, Dutch Baptist Seminary as well as international guests. The speaker this year was Dr Curtis Freeman from Duke University. The lectures focussed on an intriguing topic: how dissent may lose its vigour and become ’domesticated’ and how creativity and visionary dimension may help to give new dynamic to dissenting spirit. Hence the title of the series: „Undomesticated Dissent“.
Curtis Freeman, a renown Baptist theologian and author of a recent major volume titled Contesting Catholicity, used three historical persons to present his topic: John Bunyan, Daniel Defoe and William Blake. All three have memorials in Bunhill Fields cemetery. The cemetery, where many other dissenters have been buried, locates an identifiable tradition, which is more about ’the living faith of the dead’ than ’the dead faith of the living’. „But for that living faith to be kept alive, it must be remembered,“ said Freeman.
The aim of the lectures was well summarised by the speaker: „These lectures focus on three narratives of dissent: Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress, Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe, and Blake’s Jerusalem. … The structure accounts for a diversity of voices… By telling the story in this way it will become clear that the voices of dissent are always subject to the forces of domestication, … by becoming „hand-tamed“ to the powers that be. At times the radical spirit slumbers away in uncomfortable dreams while the nations rage or becomes gentled to the touch and taste of polite culture, only to rise again unexpectedly in all its undomesticated fervor. Perhaps by remembering these stories of those memorialized in stone, the slumbering saints may be awakened and the voices of undomesticated dissent may arise yet again.“
The Hughey Memorial Lectures was the idea of professor Wayne Pipkin, an influential historian and a leading figure in Anabaptist research at IBTS in Rüschlikon during the 1980s. However, it was only in the 1990s when the idea was taken forward. The lectures honour the work of John David Hughey (1914-1984) who served as the president of IBTS, Rüschlikon, in 1960-1964, and who taught practical theology and church history. Since 1994 the Hughey Lectures are taking place every second year, constituting an important event in the IBTSC academic life, and exploring topics related to Baptist life and witness. Hughey Lectures 2014 will be published as a separate volume in Baptistic Theologies, a publication of IBTSC Amsterdam.