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This book studies the development of a pattern of education for ministry within nineteenth-century English evangelical Nonconformity. This development played a major role in the emergence of discussions on the nature of ministry while also influencing thought on religious authority, theological reconstruction, and religious identity. Johnson argues that too many interpretations of this facet of Nonconformity's history (especially those concerning the Congregationalist, Baptist, Methodist, and Presbyterian traditions) have tended to regard such development as a decline from earlier pinnacles of religious vitality and appeal. His book instead considers this phase a serious and necessary effort on the part of Nonconformity to come to terms with modernity while also retaining a responsible understanding of what it meant to be evangelical.
Dale Johnson is Professor of Church History at the Divinity School of Vanderbilt University and editor of the quarterly journal Religious Studies Review. His special area of interest is modern religious history, and his previous books include Women in English Religion, 1700-1925 (1983) and Women and Religion in Britain and Ireland: An Annotated Bibliography from the Reformation to 1993 (1995).