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The discourse of "Belonging" and Baptist church membership in contemporary Britain: historical, theological and demotic elements of a post-foundational theological proposal

Jackson, Darrell Richard (2009)
Th.D. thesis, University of Birmingham.

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During the late twentieth century Baptist church membership declined whilst church attendance increased. An investigation of these phenomena references Stanley Grenz’s post-foundational theology and Anthony Giddens’s sociological theory of structuration. An historical overview of Baptist church history reveals the continuities and discontinuities in the theology and practice of church membership. Attention is focused on the covenantal discourse of professional theology from the early 1980s to date, on the denominational discourse informing a sample of 120 church membership materials, and on the relational discourse of twenty interviews with church members and attenders. Interview data shows that membership discourses have two forms: formal and relational. The latter is found to reduce distinctions between members and nonmembers for which ‘belonging’ provides a validating framework enforced by four features: experientially-validated subjectivity; post-denominationally conceived identity; de-structured relationality; and practical immediacy. Scripture, church tradition and the contemporary context are the sources for Grenz’s post-foundational theology and point to the trialectical tension between the covenantal, denominational and relational discourses of membership and belonging. A discursive theological methodology is proposed that is located within the congregation, rooted in a trialogue, requires deeper scriptural engagement, and is focussed on discussion of an additional Core Value: ‘relational communities’.

Type of Work:Th.D. thesis.
Supervisor(s):Kirk, Andrew (Rev) and Stringer, Martin D.
School/Faculty:Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Arts & Law
Department:Graduate Institute for Theology and Religion
Subjects:BX Christian Denominations
Institution:University of Birmingham
ID Code:378
This unpublished thesis/dissertation is copyright of the author and/or third parties. The intellectual property rights of the author or third parties in respect of this work are as defined by The Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 or as modified by any successor legislation. Any use made of information contained in this thesis/dissertation must be in accordance with that legislation and must be properly acknowledged. Further distribution or reproduction in any format is prohibited without the permission of the copyright holder.
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