, who teaches theology and church history at Oak Hill College, London, has written what must be one of the most startling accounts of religion in mid-seventeenth-century England. His new book, Orthodox Radicals: Baptist Identity in the English Revolution
(Oxford University Press, 2019), argues against several centuries of historical interpretation of the new religious movement that emerged in London in the late 1630s and now numbers around 35 million adherents worldwide. Matt’s argument is that – during the English revolution, at least – there was no such thing as “Baptists,” and that historians who have used that term as a tool to investigate religion within this period unwittingly replicate the assumptions of later denominational polemicists. Orthodox Radicals
is a bold and compelling argument about the power of labels, and the necessity of our understanding our subjects on their own terms. The churches that became known as Baptists existed for three generations without any denominational label. Matt’s powerful new book shows how little we understand the new religious movements of early modern England when we rush towards classification.
Crawford Gribben is a professor of history at Queen’s University Belfast. His research interests focus on the history of puritanism and evangelicalism, and he is the author most recently of
John Owen and English Puritanism (Oxford University Press, 2016).