The Exclusive Brethren ‘Doctrine of Separation’: An Anthropology of Theology

Joseph Webster

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review

Abstract

Why do the Exclusive Brethren attend church ten times a week? Why do they shun excommunicated members, including immediate family? Why do they refuse to eat with outsiders? Why will they employ outsiders in their businesses, but never be employed by them? Why do they reject modern media as “pipelines of filth”? Why do they refuse to vote, while simultaneously campaigning for Conservative Party candidates? Why do they only live in detached houses, and build churches entirely without windows? How, in other words, do the Exclusive Brethren try to live good lives? And what can we learn anthropologically from these models of ‘the good’, and from the objections they provoke? Drawing inspiration from Keane’s (2014) suggestion that ‘we shouldn’t decide in advance what ethics will look like’, this paper seeks to critically contribute to new scholarship within the anthropology of morality and detachment by constructing, in a very literal sense, an anthropology of theology via an analysis of the Exclusive Brethren ‘doctrine of separation’.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationTheologically Engaged Anthropology
PublisherOxford University Press
Chapter18
Pages315-335
Number of pages20
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2018

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