NOMINATIONS are now requested for the 2019 Michael Ramsey Prize for contemporary theological writing. While most nominations are made online, you can also submit your pick for the award by posting the form below to SPCK, who administer the Prize on behalf of the Lambeth Trust. Readers have until 30 April 2018 to put forward their favourite new titles of the past three years (published between 1 January 2015 and 31 December 2017).
Designed to celebrate the most promising contemporary theological writing from the global Church, the prize applauds books that help the Church to think more deeply, act more wisely, and witness more effectively. By shining a spotlight on emerging authors, the prize seeks to encourage a wider readership of theology, and greater engagement and discussion of theological ideas.
Previous winners include John Swinton, for Dementia; Luke Bretherton, for Christianity and Contemporary Politics; and Fr Timothy Radcliffe OP for What is the Point of Being a Christian? The winner will receive £10,000; shortlisted authors will each receive £1000.
The award, which is sponsored by the Lambeth Trust, commemorates Lord Ramsey, Archbishop of Canterbury from 1961 to 1974, who was well known as a theologian, educator, and advocate of Christian unity. His own books include The Glory of God and the Transfiguration, published in 1949, which he declared to be his favourite of the books he had written.
The purpose of the Michael Ramsey Prize is to celebrate and encourage both the writing and reading of theology, with a special focus on emerging theological authors. The hope is that publicity surrounding the award, and especially the shortlist, will inspire people to include more theological works among their reading.
The competition has a global reach, and accepts nominations of works by non-British authors, as long as they have been translated into English. The organisers hope that this will help to bring new and previously unknown authors to the forefront of contemporary theological debate.
All eligible nominations will be read by a team of readers, and the shortlist for the award will be announced early in 2019. A team of judges, appointed by the Archbishop of Canterbury, will review these books and announce the winner at the Greenbelt Festival in August 2019.
The Church Times encourages its readers to make a nomination. If you are not sure what to nominate, why not challenge yourself to read one or two theological books between now and the deadline at the end of April? Look back over our review of 2017 books for ideas (Books, 22 December 2017).
For more information and a full list of regulations, visit www.michaelramseyprize.org.uk.
The Church Times is the Michael Ramsey Prize media partner.
The Revd Dr Isabelle Hamley, who found her questions reframed by theologians
‘I grew back into faith’
Isabelle Hamley writes she learnt that theologians’ work matters
I NEVER thought that I would study theology, let alone write it myself. I liked art and music and creative pursuits. And debating. I was always full of questions, and my church got fed up with not having all the answers. Why all the violence in the Old Testament? Why are women so badly treated? How can a God of love possibly let children suffer? How do we translate texts from thousands of years ago into something relevant today? Is God vengeful and vindictive?
After a while, unanswered questions sapped my enthusiasm and started draining my faith. Questions about justice, gender, and race became so strong that I withdrew from church and arguments. That is when I had an unexpected encounter.
I read Walter Brueggemann’s Theology of the Old Testament (Fortress Press, 2005), and things started to make (some) sense. As I read more of his work, I discovered the beauty and depth of the Old Testament, its raw struggle with the reality of a broken world. I read Jürgen Moltmann, and was caught up in the picture of the crucified God.
My questions were not “answered”, but they were reframed, refined, and, at times, corrected. I grew back into faith, which was now more mature, more solid, and very differently shaped.
This is why theological writing matters. The way we speak about God, and the underlying assumptions behind what is preached and taught and prayed in every church, shape our relationships to God and to one another. It stretches our imaginations, and encourages us to think beyond the boundaries of our own little corner of the universe.
Theological writing, at its best, brings together insights from tradition and cultures, from places and times far away, and from the insistent questions of our contemporary experience. It unlocks the riches of scripture, of tradition, and of the universal Church.
This is what we are celebrating with the Michael Ramsey Prize.
We are looking for deep, embedded theology, which is, at the same time, accessible: the kind of theology that will bring healing, shape faith, and transform lives; the kind of theology that will bring the treasures of the universal Church to bear on the great questions of today.
We will be looking for new and diverse voices that can speak into our world and change the way we pray, the way we share, and the way we love.
The Revd Dr Isabelle Hamley is Chaplain to the Archbishop of Canterbury.
Nominations for the Michael Ramsey Prize 2019 are now open.
The Archbishop would particularly welcome writing that highlights one of his three personal priorities: prayer and the renewal of the religious life, reconciliation, and evangelism.
How to nominate an author.
IF YOU have read a book published between 1 January 2015 and 31 December 2017 which has furthered your understanding of theology, prayer, or the Christian life, you can show your thanks to the author by nominating him or her. Please take a minute or two to submit your nomination online — www.michaelramseyprize.org.uk/nominate — or on the form, right, and post it to: The Michael Ramsey Prize Co-ordinator, SPCK, 36 Causton Street, London SW1P 4ST.
You are welcome to nominate more than one work. Any enquiries about the competition should be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org. Further details can be found on the website.
Closing date for nominations: 30 April 2018.
Nominations should meet the following criteria:
• The book must have a living author.
• It must have been published between 1 January 2015 and 31 December 2017.
• It must have been written in, or translated into, English.
Works by more than three authors will not be considered.