Andrew Bradstock

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Andrew Bradstock


Andrew Bradstock holds the Howard Paterson Chair in Theology and Public Issues and is Director of the Centre for Theology and Public Issues. He arrived from Britain in January 2009 to take up this appointment.[1]

As well as developing and teaching papers on public theology Andrew is creating the Centre for Theology and Public Issues at Otago. This will be networked with similar centres in the UK, USA, South Africa, Australia and elsewhere, and will seek to raise the profile of public theology in New Zealand and make a significant contribution to public discourse and policy. In developing the Centre, Andrew is meeting with a wide range of people, organisations, churches and networks in New Zealand.

Education

Dr Andrew Bradstock has an MA in Political Theology from Bristol, a PhD in Political Theory from Kent and an MTh in Church History from Otago.[2]

Writing

His publications include Asylum Voices (with Arlington Trotman), a Reader of Radical Christian Writings which he edited with Christopher Rowland and Saints and Sandinistas: the Catholic Church in Nicaragua and Its Response to the Revolution (1987).[3]

Pro Sandinista article

In 2004 Faith, the journal of the International League of Religious Socialists, published a pro Sandinista article by David Haslam and Andrew Bradstock entitled "God who sweats in the streets";[4]

Twenty-five years ago the world witnessed a new kind of revolution. In July 1979 the people of Nicaragua said basta, 'enough', to repression and effected radical regime change. Led by the Sandanista Front they laid the foundations of a new society, one where ordinary people mattered and access to education, health care and land were prioritised.
Much to the fore in this process were Christians and churches. Priests, pastors and lay-people actively mobilised and conscientised the people, several becoming leaders in the new administration. Christians put their energy into a campaign to teach adults to read and write, so successful it won a UN award. Liberation theology was much in vogue then. Writers like Gutiérrez and Boff inspired people to read the Bible out of their own situation and discover that God not only promised to free people from oppression but delivered on that promise — as in the exodus from Egypt.
God was seen to be in solidarity with the poor, biased towards justice for the weak and the downtrodden. Hannah and Mary had sung of God bringing down the powerful from their thrones, lifting up the lowly and filling the hungry with good things. Here was inspiration for the struggle to overthrow tyranny and fashion a just society.
A version of the Mass echoing these themes was popular in Nicaragua at the time. Known as the 'Peasant Mass' it spoke of God identifying with a suffering people...
You are the God of the poor,
the ordinary human God,
God who sweats in the street,
God with the weathered face
it began, seeing God walking hand in hand and struggling with the people in field and town. In the Kyrie, Christ was implored to
join us, be one with us...
be in solidarity with us,
not with the oppressor.
The Credo acknowledged God as creator, engineer, builder and bricklayer, and affirmed 'Christ the worker' who rises again 'each time we raise an arm to defend the people'.
The work of Ernesto Cardenal, minister of culture in the Sandanista governmen, also helped give the Bible new relevance...
Lord who do you think is going to
liberate us
if you don't?
The Peasant Mass is little used now, and few remember what Nicaragua might have achieved had it been left in peace with its Christian, socialist project and not undermined by folks in Washington (some now involved in Iraq) convinced all revolutions were Communist and atheistic. But as we work for justice in different contexts we still need the nourishment of Scripture and Eucharist, finding in both a God alongside us, speaking, struggling and yes, even sweating with us.

Career

From 1990 to 1991 he was a Postdoctoral Fellow in Church History at the University of Otago. He then returned to England and taught Theology in several institutions before becoming Secretary for Church and Society with the United Reformed Church from 2000 to 2005. From 2006-8 he co-directed the Centre for Faith and Society at the Von Hűgel Institute, St Edmund’s College, Cambridge. He has extensive experience of working with UK politicians to develop links between Parliament and the churches and other faith communities.[5]

Christian Socialist Movement

The Christian Socialist Movement , an organization affiliated to the British Labour Party to promote "values-based socialism and faith-based social action" appointed leading theologian Andrew Bradstock as its new General Secretary in 2004. He succeeded Graham Dale, who left CSM to join evangelical development agency World Vision in August 2004.

Bradstock was working as Secretary for Church and Society with the United Reformed Church at the denomination's London headquarters. Besides campaigning on issues like international debt and editing Christian Socialist magazine for three years, he taught theology and wrote widely on faith and politics.

Andrew Bradstock said, CSM has many roles, and one is to be a link between UK churches and the Labour Party: "I look forward to helping to keep a conversation between the two going - which will be particularly important in the run-up to a General Election."[6]

More radical direction

In 2007, members of the Christian Socialist Movement voted for a substantial change of direction for the Movement - "one which they say will involve arguing for more radical policies in the Labour Party, a substantial challenge to the religious right, and greater efforts to explain to other Christians what they stand for".

CSM director Dr Andrew Bradstock, a theologian and a parliamentary candidate at the last general election, said that he saw the move as an "interesting and very positive" development.

The Christian Socialist Movement has been in existence since 1960, created out of two other Christian socialist bodies. It affiliated to the Labour Party in 1986, since when critics say that it has increasingly accommodated to the Labour establishment - a charge denied by others. It abandoned an explicit commitment to common ownership, along with the Labour Party, in 1995. The Christian Socialist magazine was also eventually renamed The Common Good.

In a keenly-fought ballot at CSM's annual meeting, members voted overwhelmingly in favour of candidates seeking 'Renewal and Change' within the Movement. A majority of votes were cast decisively in favour of a new team of largely younger members and for Cardiff MP and former Cabinet minister Alun Michael as the new chair.

Identifying a "need for a fresh vision" within CSM, 'Renewal and Change' candidates called for the Movement to be "the prophetic conscience of the Labour Party and a prophetic voice to the churches". They pledged to make CSM 'fit for purpose' and a "more democratic, accountable and Christian organisation".

An architect of the 'Renewal and Change' agenda and CSM executive member , Jonathan Cox said CSM's inertia has "worked to the benefit of the Christian right"...."There has never been a greater need for a strong Christian voice on the left", he said. "We need to make a bold stand against the religious right and emphasise poverty, social justice and the environment as mainstream Christian issues."

CSM director Andrew Bradstock told the AGM that he detected "the beginning of a new era for the Movement," and urged all who believed in Christianity, progressive politics and social justice to get involved in the 'Year of Renewal'.[7]

References