Dr Robert Cotter - student profile

Robert Cotter - PhotoDR ROBERT EDMUND COTTER

Supervisor 1: C. Scott Dixon

Supervisor 2: Prof. Crawford Gribben

 

Subject area: History

Profile

Graduated in German in 1980 (QUB) and then completed the PGCE at QUB from MFL. Spent three years at Pembroke College, Oxford University working on a D.Phil. in German Literature. Thesis on ”Aspects of Philisitinism in 19th century German Literature’. Taught French and German at two NI grammar schools from 1984-2012.

Trained for ordained ministry in the Church of Ireland from 2002-2005 (part-time) at the Church of Ireland Institute of Theology, Dublin. Ordained June 2005. Served as assistant in Mossley Parish, Broughshane Parish and was in charge of St Mary Magdalene, Belfast, 2013-16. Currently on study leave to complete History PhD (full-time).

Also completed M.A. in French (Ulster, 2001) with thesis (in French) on the Taizé movement, an M.Ed. (OU, 2003), an M.Th. on The Psalms in worship (QUB, 2005) and a B.D. (London, 2016).

PhD thesis entitled ’John Cennick: the education of an evangelist’. Interested in the circumstances and context of the eighteenth-century revival in Britain and Ireland and Cennick’s role in these events. My thesis will trace his apprenticeship to John and Charles Wesley, to George Whitefield, and finally to Count Zinzendorf and what later became known as the Moravian Church, or Renewed Church of the Brethren (Unitas Fratrum). I also aim to elucidate the nature of his ministry as an evangelist in Ireland from 1746 until his death in 1755. In addition I will explore a number of key theological topics which often feature in discussions of Revivalism and Evangelicalism: Christocentricism; Eschatology, and Ecumenism, as touchstones of Cennick’s spirituality, doctrinal understanding, and religious praxis.

I am interested in exploring the dynamics of Revival in the broadest sense. This will involve an investigation of the factors which may have contributed to the great flowering of the religious life in various parts of Europe and the New World in the middle of a century which is so often characterised by other great historical forces such as the Enlightenment, the ideas of John Locke and a ’latitudinarian’ resistance to religious enthusiasm. The interaction between local revivalism and the great exchange of ideas, information, and religious experience which enable us to trace parallels between events in Saxony, County Antrim and New England is of particular interest. Above all, I am intrigued by the disproportionate role that the miniscule Moravian Church played in so many places and projects between 1732 and the death of Zinzendorf in 1760.

My field of interest encompasses all events of a religious character in the long Eighteenth Century, the principal protagonists, and those who at first sight may have been accorded a subsidiary role, but sometimes emerge as having been more significant and influential than previously thought. It is a glittering array of star performers such as John and Charles Wesley, and George Whitefield as well as lesser known luminaries which include John Cennick.

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