PLNU is pleased to have visiting scholar Bryan Stone and his wife, Cheryl, on campus this summer, where they will utilize PLNU’s residential facilities and the resources offered through the Wesleyan Center. Currently a faculty member at the School of Theology at Boston University, Stone is on sabbatical for the summer to conduct research for two projects.
The first project is a nationwide study called “Finding Faith Today” that, according to Stone, seeks to learn how people come to faith and answer questions such as: Do people adopt a religious faith as their own or does the faith adopt them? Is it a journey or more like a sudden conversion? Are friends and relatives most important to the process, or do other factors such as clergy, books, television, and films play a significant role? What sorts of values, practices, and lifestyles tend to change for those who newly come to faith? What, if any, are the substantial differences in how one comes to faith among Christians, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, and persons of other religious traditions?
“Finding Faith Today” is an expansion and follow-up of a study by the same name that was conducted on Christian populations in the U.K. over 20 years ago by Bishop John Finney. Unlike its predecessor, Stone says this study will include an interfaith component to compare those who become followers of all major religious traditions in the U.S. To do this, the study will survey adults age 18 and over who have made a new declaration of faith or have adopted a faith as their own since Jan. 1, 2012. This includes those who have converted or become a member of a faith, or those who have returned to faith from an earlier commitment.
Stone’s second project is a book tentatively titled “The Ethics of Evangelism,” a follow-up to his previous book “Evangelism After Christendom,” that will focus on “evangelism in the context of empire, the marketplace, the nation-state, and religious pluralism.”
Stone attended Southern Nazarene University and Nazarene Theological Seminary before earning his Ph.D. in theology at Southern Methodist University. He currently serves in multiple capacities at Boston University’s School of Theology, including associate dean for academic affairs, E. Stanley Jones professor of theology, and co-director of the Center for Practical Theology. His research, publishing, and teaching interests are in the areas of evangelism; congregational development; urban ministry; ecclesiology; theology and popular culture; Christian pacifism; and Wesleyan, liberation, narrativist, and post-liberal theologies. He has also authored several books, such as “A Reader in Ecclesiology,” “Evangelism After Christendom: The Theology and Practice of Christian Witness,” and “Sabbath in the City: Sustaining Urban Pastoral Excellence.”