Article of Faith? An Empirical Study of the Tract Journey Into Life

PhD Thesis by Rev Dr Christopher Noble

Posted By Rev Dr Christopher Noble on 21/02/2020

Article of Faith? An empirical Study of the Tract Journey Into Life in the development of British Evangelical Identity between 1963 and 1989.

Thesis available free from KCL ethesis - For free access click on  https://kclpure.kcl.ac.uk/portal/en/theses/article-of-faith(91e4ee23-ba46-40d3-9507-b8d3447ec4f9).html Empirical research into the Christian tract called Journey Into Life that has sold over 30 million copies in the UK. Findings of the study offer unique insight into the evangelical communication of the Gospel.

Abstract

This empirical research into the iconic evangelical artefact and object of faith in the form of the tract Journey Into Life offers a new angle of perception in the study of late twentieth-century evangelicalism in the United Kingdom between 1963 and 1989. As part of the ethnographic turn in contemporary ecclesiology, this research employs a material culture research methodology that provides a distinctive new gaze upon the formation of British evangelical identity. This study engages in depth with the everyday theology and practice of evangelism by focussing on the signifying practice of tract usage amongst evangelical Christians. A significant theological disclosure was identified as taking place within the details of practice and belief that surrounded the gifting of the tract Journey Into Life, a small booklet that dominated the Christian book market for over three decades. This research subjected the iconic road sign tract and signature artefact of the British evangelical movement to critical analysis in a threefold strategy that employed the tools of material culture gift exchange theory, the discipline of contemporary practical theology, and the techniques of qualitative social research. The findings of this study offer a unique and fresh insight into the lived and embodied faith of evangelicals, demonstrating the way in which the exchange of this humble evangelical article of faith played a previously unrecognised but significant role in the construction and development of an influential evangelical identity in the United Kingdom. The research concluded with its findings being offered for innovative engagement with contemporary evangelical communication through the development of digital media for evangelism in the rapidly changing social context of Britain today.

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