Introducing the Cambridge Papers Writing Group

The Cambridge Papers

Cambridge Papers has maintained a consistently high standard of Christian reflection on contemporary issues. Rev Dr John Stott

Thinking about contemporary issues

The aim of Cambridge Papers is to make clear the relevance of biblical teaching to a range of contemporary issues and to equip Christians to respond to the ideas which are shaping our society. Cambridge Papers seeks to make a strategic Christian contribution to public debate at a time of rapid social and cultural change.

The choice of subjects is influenced by intellectual currents and important developments taking place nationally and internationally, both inside and outside the church. The titles of past papers show that difficult topics have not been avoided. Written from a Christian perspective, each paper presents a carefully argued case relating to an important topic, providing material to stimulate further thought and discussion.

Cambridge Papers is reaching a wide audience and having an impact. For example, the paper on blasphemy law reform is known to have influenced the UK parliamentary debate on this issue. The paper on cloning had a direct influence on a policy paper produced by the Anglican Synod of Canberra for the Australian Government. A civic chaplain in the UK circulates Cambridge Papers to relevant departments in his Borough Council and considers the Cambridge Papers to be an important ‘tool for engagement’ that has ‘promoted the cause of the church as a contributor to policy and serious discussion.’ The Cambridge Papers are currently sent to 43 countries across six continents.


Non-profit making

Cambridge Papers is a non-profit making quarterly publication. We are funded exclusively by donations from our readers. Income from donations is used for production, administration and distribution costs. Any surplus income is used to advance the work, particularly to extend the readership to as wide an audience as possible.

Find out more about the history of the Papers, who is in the Writing Group, or browse the Papers and other readers’ comments online using the links in the sub-menu to the left.



How Cambridge Papers began

There is no longer a Christian mind. The Christian mind has succumbed to the secular drift with a degree of weakness and nervelessness unmatched in Christian history. It is difficult to do justice in words to the complete loss of intellectual morale in the twentieth-century Church. Harry Blamires, The Christian Mind.

‘Originally things were very impromptu,’ writes Michael Ovey in his introduction to Christianity in a Changing World by Michael Schluter and the Cambridge Papers Group. ‘We would meet at Michael Schluter’s house (he was the convenor) and one of us would bring in an idea which the others would run with, develop and test as best we could, but always aiming to think Christianly. That was prompted in part because we each felt the force of Blamires’ challenge.’

The participants were Christians from various denominations and academic disciplines, but they shared a ‘nagging suspicion’, as Ovey puts it, that distinctively biblical thinking was not being brought to bear upon their respective fields. They also shared the conviction that if Jesus is Lord, he is Lord of all creation. Every sphere of knowledge and every human activity should be considered in the light of God’s communication to us in the Scriptures. Ovey concludes, ‘We perceived a genuine need here for a distinctive, biblically-based contribution from Christians.’

As time went on, the meetings became more structured: it was decided that a paper would be presented at each discussion. Later, the writing group became aware of others who wanted to consider similar questions. This encouraged them to begin publishing their work, after multiple drafts and frank discussions, under the title Cambridge Papers.

Although they had originally called themselves the Jubilee Centre Think Tank, the writing group settled on the existing name because the meetings were held in Cambridge and also because they were conscious of a concern in Cambridge, dating back to the Puritans and before, to relate the Bible to the whole of life. The first Cambridge Paper was published in March 1992, about four years after the group was first convened.


The Writing Group

Current members of the writing group meet in Cambridge every month, discussing and redrafting each Paper several times before publication. Members of the group each contribute as individuals, and not as representatives of any church or organisation. Occasionally, a guest author is invited to write a Paper.

Dr Denis Alexander is Director of the Faraday Institute for Science and Religion and Fellow of St. Edmund’s College. He was previously at the Imperial Cancer Research Laboratories in London (now Cancer Research UK), and prior to that spent 15 years developing university departments and laboratories overseas, latterly as Associate Professor of Biochemistry at the American University of Beirut, Lebanon. Dr Alexander is the author of the book Rebuilding the Matrix – Science and Faith in the 21st Century (2001) and has published numerous papers and reviews. He is the editor of the journal Science & Christian Belief, serves on the committee of Christians in Science and lectures widely on the subject of science and faith.

Professor John Coffey is the Professor of Early Modern History at Leicester University. His research focuses on religion, politics and ideas in early modern Britain and America. In particular, he has worked on aspects of Puritanism, the English Revolution, and the development of ideas of toleration. He is the author of Politics, Religion and the British Revolutions: The Mind of Samuel Rutherford (1997), Persecution and Toleration in Protestant England, 1558-1689 (2000), and John Goodwin and the Puritan Revolution: Religion and Intellectual Change in Seventeenth-Century England (Boydell and Brewer, 2006). He trained as an historian at Cambridge University.

Caroline Eade studied theology at Cambridge University before working at the Evangelical Alliance as an assistant in its social action projects. She went on to qualify as a solicitor and now works in a commercial law firm in Cambridge, specialising in charity law.

Dr Paul Mills is an international economist specialising in finance. He worked as a researcher at the Jubilee Centre between graduating from Cambridge University and returning there for his PhD.

Professor Julian Rivers is Professor of Jurisprudence at Bristol University. His research interests lie mainly in the area of legal and constitutional theory, with a particular interest in the interplay between law and religion. He was awarded a doctorate in 2004 on the basis of his published work and is a member of the Editorial Advisory Board of the Ecclesiastical Law Journal. He studied law at the Universities of Cambridge and Göttingen.

Dr Michael Schluter CBE is founder of the Jubilee Centre and is developing the International Jubilee Network. He is also chairman of the Keep Sunday Special Campaign and works closely with the Relationships Foundation. He has a PhD in agricultural economics from Cornell University and worked in East Africa for six years as a consultant for the World Bank and the International Food Policy Research Institute. Dr Schluter co-authored The R Factor (1993), The R Option (2003) and The Relational Manager (2009) and contributed to Relational Justice (1994), Building a Relational Society: New priorities for public policy (1996), and Christian Perspectives on Law and Relationism (2000).

Christopher Townsend read economics at Cambridge University and now works as a solicitor specialising in corporate tax law and employee share schemes. He has previously spent four years at the Jubilee Centre, assisting the Keep Sunday Special Campaign, and examining biblical and theological issues underlying the Centre’s work. He co-authored Political Christians in a Plural Society (1994).

Dr Alison Watkin is a Research Fellow in International Law at St John’s College, Cambridge. Her research and teaching interests include International Human Rights Law (especially the rights of non-citizens, counter-terrorism, and human rights) and International Legal Theory.

Dr Christopher Watkin is Senior Lecturer in French Studies and Honours coordinator for the school of Languages, Cultures and Linguistics at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia.  His doctoral thesis was on the relation between deconstruction and phenomenology.

Margaret Wilson read fine art and art history at Reading University, followed by a London University Diploma in Theology. She taught art (with art history) at Itchen Sixth Form College, Southampton. Subsequently, she lectured in art history in the Adult Education Departments of Southampton University and Oxford University (OUDES) (1979-1984), and more recently has lectured at the Institute of Continuing Education, University of Cambridge since 1986. Prior to that she held the Centenary Schoolmistress Fellowship at Girton College, Cambridge, researching into the origins of modern art. She is a Life Member of Clare Hall College, University of Cambridge. In her own artwork she has specialised in drawing, water colours, and printmaking (mainly lithography).

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Category: Cambridge Papers

April, 2010

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