• Action Research as a Way of Doing Theology (ART): Transforming My Practice of Preaching the Bible with My Congregation

      Boyd, Jason C. (University of Chester, 2015-03-30)
      This thesis explores action research as a way of doing theology (ART). The contours of ART emerged through a collaborative inquiry into my practice of preaching the Bible within the context of congregational worship. It began with a niggling question, “What was happening in the communication space between me and my congregation?” An action research pilot project (March-April 2006) with Cumnock Congregational Church (Minister, 1998 - 2008) prepared the ground for a collaborative inquiry with Witney Congregational Church (Minister, 2009 - present). With the latter congregation we developed Word Café, an adaption of Brown and Isaacs World Café (2005), as a method of creating communicative space (Wicks & Reason, 2009) in which we explored our experience of what happened when I preached a sermon and examined what, if any changes, occurred during the period of November 2010 to July 2011. This is ideographic research and as such engages in first and second person inquiry, weaving together the voices and insights of participants. In the first person I integrate my spiritual formation and academic development with my vocation as a preacher. In the second person I give an account of the way in which I entered into a collaborative relationship with my congregation to research my preaching practice and their experience of it. I have constructed a narrative of a self-reflexive, critical examination of a single case (Gustavsen, 2003; Reason, 2003) of iterative cycles which encompass the process of co-planning and of the Word Café. My intention is to make a wider contribution to the practice of preaching by modelling ART as a dialogical, relational way of being, and to inspire other preachers and congregations to develop their own ways of reflecting on their practices and experiences of preaching the Bible in their own contexts. Arising out of my inquiry into my preaching practice is the concept of ART which has the potential to create and nurture dialogical space in the exploration and transformation of various aspects of congregational life. This is a contextual, emergent, and interdisciplinary account shaped by narratives of learning. The actions we took in attempting to create communicative space yielded the themes of a fresh hearing of the Bible, listening with my eyes, and exploring my own insider-outsider positionality, in particular through narratives of wisdom and power, silence, and affections. Central to the practice of ART is the growth of the qualities necessary for being authentic as a practitioner-researcher. I set out to demonstrate the way in which the development of attentional practices increased my awareness as I navigated the insider-outsider positionality of a preacher and researcher.
    • Beyond Dialogue - An exploration of the Musalaha: Curriculum of Reconciliation model of interfaith dialogue with relevance for the UK context.

      Baker, Christopher T. H.; Rawlings, Philip J. (University of Chester, 2017-07)
      Issues concerning the integration of migrant communities into United Kingdom society have once again become the subject of national debate, with the publication of the Casey Review in December 2016. In the aftermath of terrorist incidents in Manchester and London, as well as the 2016 Referendum vote for the United Kingdom to leave to the European Union, the reported rise in racially motivated hate crimes and an increase in both antisemitism and Islamophobia, the necessity of developing healthy relationships between communities is imperative. When considering the question of whether segregation is on the increase or not Cantle and Kaufman conclude that while minority ethnic communities are dispersing there is significantly less mixing with the ‘White British’ communities, who seem to be withdrawing from mixed areas. The need for integration is vital. This research starts with the premise that religion is part of the solution, not a part of the problem. This qualitative research explores ethnographically the process of interfaith dialogue, by participant observation of three different groups over a five-year period, with intense reflection over the last three years. These groups were made up of Muslims and Christians, and Hindus in one group, all of whom had a deep personal faith in their respective religions. Using Salim Munayer’s Musalaha Six-stage Cycle of Reconciliation, which was pioneered in the Israel-Palestine context of 25 years of dialogue practice among Messianic Jews and Palestinian Christians, the research adapts and builds on this model, for use in interfaith dialogue, developing a fresh definition of ‘interfaith dialogue’ and a method of interfaith dialogue appropriate for the UK context. The thesis makes three main contributions to academic knowledge. First, it presents a new definition and fresh approach to interfaith dialogue with relevance for the UK context, which is particularly relevant for devout believers in their respective religions, to stand alongside other models. Second, the results of the research identify a list of fourteen key themes, including identity, faith and reconciliation, which deserve further analysis. The research methods indicated that there are many more issues that, with further analysis, might be profitably explored. Third, that following the six-stage cycle the path to reconciliation, although remaining hard, is nevertheless achievable, especially for those whose faith provides the motivation and drive to engage at depth with the other.
    • Bonhoeffer: Responsible work - A diachronic approach to a synchronic theme: Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s theology of work

      Plant, Stephen; Greggs, Tom; Fulford, Ben; McCabe, John H. (University of Chester, 2015-01)
      This thesis attempts to highlight in a new way the importance of work to Dietrich Bonhoeffer, both in what he wrote and how he lived, and draws upon history, biography, and theology. It constructs a narrative drawn from the interrelation between these elements in an innovative fashion, seeking to convey a fresh sense of the way in which Bonhoeffer’s theology relates to the context of the time. A central argument of the study is that Bonhoeffer’s engagement with the subject of work and his theology of work is something foundationally important to him and a theme which evolves and develops over time. Proposing work as a central hermeneutical key to the understanding of Bonhoeffer is a task which has not been attempted before. The thesis tracks the theme of work and its development, noting over the course of Bonhoeffer’s life how a fuller understanding of the centrality of work throws up fresh understandings of a number of key transition points in his life and makes sense of them in a new way.The final section argues that Bonhoeffer’s work in resistance in Nazi Germany was good work and that a theological formulation which guided Bonhoeffer towards his role in tyrannicide was present in his work-in-progress doctrine of the mandates, an incomplete doctrine which in the end is a hope-filled one. Methodologically, this thesis tracks the development and articulation of Bonhoeffer’s theology of work from the early days through to his arrest, focussing mainly, but not entirely, on his written output in the Dietrich Bonhoeffer Werke (DBW) series, but not including the prison theology because such an approach appropriately reflects the un-finished nature of Bonhoeffer’s theology.
    • Borrowed silence: A history of the practice of retreat in the Church of England

      Parker, Stephen; Greggs, Tom; Morris, Wayne; Tyers, John H. (University of Liverpool (University of Chester), 2012)
      This thesis, which is the first attempt to write about the growth of retreats, deals with a rather sidelined but important development in the history of spirituality. It states when, how and why the practice of retreat was adopted and adapted in the Church of England after having been a devotion in the Church of Rome since the time of the Catholic Reformation and how it has developed since. It is divided chronologically into three major sections. The first tells the story of its adoption in 1858 by a group of Anglo Catholics in the form of the preached retreat and its subsequent spread to a small number of adherents, despite meeting opposition from Evangelical Christians. The second tells of the influence of a Jesuit brother, Charles Plater, and how after the First World War a number of Diocesan retreat houses were opened, the use of which continued to rise until after the Second World War. The third takes the story up to our present day with its adaptation to the needs of the present search for faith, its decline accompanying the present loss in membership in the churches whilst at the same time its adoption in various forms by non-Anglican groups. In particular it contains a history of the Society of Retreat Conductors. All the time comparison is made with what was happening in the Church of Rome. There are resonances with the history of the Victorian church, the attitude of the established church to the working classes, evangelism, the changing fortunes of Anglo Catholicism, the ecumenical movement and New Age Christianity. It is of interest to all who are concerned about spread of religious faith today.
    • ‘Building Space: Developing Reflection for Wellbeing’ Can a chaplain help healthcare professionals develop reflective practice for wellbeing for themselves and their team?

      Mowat, Harriet; Satterley, Andrew; Graham, Elaine; Pearce, Sacha J. T. (University of Chester, 2019-01-22)
      In this thesis I develop a new, wider and richer understanding of wellbeing, through developing a process of reflective practice, with healthcare professionals within their challenging work culture. As a healthcare chaplain, having witnessed poor staff morale, I conducted a critical examination of NHS wellbeing reports and strategies, which revealed an understanding of staff wellbeing that ironically follows simply a health model. Challenging this, I argue for a broader interpretation of wellbeing that, in addition to focusing on health, is more holistic, relational and contextual. I develop reflective practice to nurture this, the use of which extends in healthcare beyond education and professional development. In my action research, knowledge was generated through ethnographic participation and observation, over a year, reflecting as chaplain with eight teams of healthcare professionals. This used my simple and memorable HELP Wellbeing Reflection Cycle (building on Kolb’s (1984) model of experiential learning) that combines reflection on work and personal development. My project also responds to Rolfe’s call (2014) for greater use in healthcare of Schön’s (1980) “reflection-in-action”. Building on these works, I develop reflection for healthcare professionals to nurture their wellbeing. My encouragement of the participants to self-facilitate their own reflective groups, when familiar with this method of reflection, is also a contribution to reflective practice, healthcare and the chaplain’s role. Thematic data analysis emerged from the reflexive field notes of our shared experience as co-reflective practitioners. The themes include healthcare professionals making the human connection between themselves and with their patients. They also value the space to reflect together, realising their desire for team support and a shared goal, as well as job satisfaction in this demanding culture. These themes, I argue, are consistent with the broader definitions of wellbeing, giving them the opportunity to be both a healthcare professional and human. Further data analysis also reveals consistency with wider wellbeing interpretations (including personal wellbeing measurements and data from the Office for National Statistics (2014, 2015)). I develop the role of chaplain as the healthcare professionals’ co-reflector, sharing their reflective space as a pastoral encounter and a source for learning. This combines the images of “empty handed” (Swift, 2009) “welcoming guest” and “mutual hospitality” (Walton, M., 2012). I offer to national healthcare the wider understanding of wellbeing, and the value of creating provision for reflective space to nurture it, in the care of healthcare professionals. This research offers the potential for exciting further developments in a wider constituency both in and beyond healthcare.
    • The Church in the Eternal Purpose of the Triune God: Toward a Pentecostal Trinitarian Ecclesiology of Theosis drawing on the early theology of the Apostolic Church in the United Kingdom

      Black, Jonathan A. (University of Chester, 2016-04)
      This dissertation examines the ecclesiology of the early writers of the Apostolic Church in the United Kingdom, and seeks to build upon this largely neglected body of Pentecostal thought for the contrastive work of contemporary Pentecostal systematic theology. A particular emphasis is placed on the thought of D.P. Williams as the most significant Apostolic writer of the early years of the movement. Connections between Apostolic ecclesiology and the Pentecostal distinctive of the baptism in the Holy Spirit are examined, as well as the role of Trinitarian theology in early Apostolic ecclesiology. Attention is then given both to distinctive Apostolic themes, including the 5-fold ministry and the Eternal Purpose, as well as their approach to other ecclesiological doctrines including the Totus Christus and the Lord’s Supper, before moving on to a constructive synthesis.
    • Conservative Evangelicalism and the Environment: An Ethnographic Study

      Clough, David; Baker, Christopher T. H.; Morris, Wayne; Crosby, Christopher James (University of Chester, 2016-11)
      While there has been a long running debate concerning the relationship between the Christian faith and environmental attitudes and behaviours, the topic has been neglected empirically, especially in relation to qualitative research. This thesis addresses this gap and presents the results of fieldwork that included participant observation and forty in-depth qualitative interviews. The goal of this thesis is to present findings about the environmental attitudes and behaviours of four conservative evangelical congregations in North Wales, U.K., to further understanding about how Christian beliefs and interpretation of the Bible are formative in this process. To aid in this a modified ‘four voices of theology’ of Cameron et al. (2010) is used as an analytical template and to conceptualise results.
    • Contextualizing Church Planting among the Oromo Society: With particular Reference to the Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus (EECMY)

      Djaleta Djaldessa, Tesso (University of Liverpool (Chester), 2011-06)
      This thesis aims to explore and analyse the success of the Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus (EECMY) strategy for Church Planting among the Oromo community in the wider social and cultural context of Ethiopia in general, and Oromia in particular. Since the 1970s the Church has made considerable efforts to effectively evangelize the diverse unevangelized peoples of Ethiopia and to create new Christian communities in their own cultural and religious contexts by developing what the EECMY calls ‘Church Planting strategies’. I argue that EECMY Church planting has been only partially successful in that, while the EECMY has approximately three million Oromo members, after one hundred and ten years of its evangelism in Ethiopia, the main reasons for this growth have been due to existing Church members having children and through members of other Christian denominations joining the EECMY. The expansion of the EECMY has mostly not been among Oromo people unacquainted with Christianity. This thesis, therefore, carefully examines and analyzes why and how EECMY Church Planting has been ineffective among the vast majority of Oromo people. Findings from my fieldwork demonstrate a number of reasons for the lack of success of Church planting among the Oromo people. Notable examples include: Oromos’ strong preservation of their culture and tradition, fear of the persistent Ethiopian Orthodox Church (EOC), persecution of evangelical Christians and the EECMY mission approach, EOC collaboration with the suppressive Abyssinian colonial system and the Western missionary cultural influence which was adopted and is still being practised by the EECMY. This study argues that a combination of a high regard for traditional Oromo culture and religion and widespread negative experiences of Christianity as a religion of repression and colonization has left many Oromo people feeling alienated from, and afraid of, Christianity. Recognizing the current ineffective nature of the EECMY’s Church planting strategies, this research then seeks to make a response by constructing alternative, contextually informed Church Planting approaches which do not disregard Oromo language, culture or tradition. In order to achieve this, the thesis develops contextual methods of mission, notably a ‘translation’ model of contextualization. A contextually appreciative approach to mission, it is argued, will in turn help to change perceptions of Christianity among the Oromo people and open up opportunities for a more successful mission praxis among Oromos.
    • Cornelius Van Til’s Doctrine of God and Its Relevance for Contemporary Hermeneutics

      Morris, Wayne; Hunt, Jason B. (University of Chester, 2017-03)
      Cornelius Van Til is known for his work in the field of apologetics. His distinctive approach emphasized consistency between methodology and theology in order to defend the Christian faith. Though often neglected, his doctrine of God provided the foundation for his methodology. The nature of who God is informs how we know him and how we interpret his word. The three most prominent contours of his doctrine were: the Creator-creature distinction, incomprehensibility, and the ontological Trinity. The value of these particular emphases is that they are key touchpoints for diagnosing apologetic methods and affirming the Christian system of truth. The nature of his assessment of methodology at the worldview level along these contours has wide-ranging implications for other disciplines, including hermeneutics. The following study explores the relevance of Van Til’s doctrine of God for contemporary biblical hermeneutics in terms of consistency between method and theology proper as revealed in the Bible. Van Til’s doctrine of God is relevant for contemporary hermeneutics both, in how ‘hermeneutics’ has come to be defined and in terms of how its relationship to metaphysics has been understood. In the former, there has been movement toward a more explicitly holistic definition, one that provides a general theory of understanding involving worldview assumptions. In the latter, the relationship between hermeneutics and metaphysics has been unavoidable. It has also been unstable and inconsistent. Van Til speaks to each of these trends from a self-conscious, Christian worldview. His work focused on worldview considerations and presuppositions, including metaphysical and epistemological concerns. It is argued that Van Til’s contributions are not only relevant for evaluating hermeneutical methods, but also contribute to some concerns of recent developments in the field. Two such developments which have influenced evangelical hermeneutics are Speech Act Theory (SAT) and Theological Interpretation of Scripture (TIS). Van Til’s contributions strengthen the effort to give due consideration to the divine author in discussions of meaning and method, but also serve to help critically evaluate and round out both. Lastly, the relevance of his theology proper is seen regarding the contemporary hermeneutical issue of the NT use of the OT. This provides a brief case study concerning a prominent contemporary issue in evangelical hermeneutics. Van Til’s contribution asks deeper questions regarding method and meaning which further the discussion, and detects flaws in some attempts to make sense of how the NT uses the OT.
    • Cur Deus Homo? The Implications of the Doctorine of the Incarnation for a Theological Understanding of the Relationship between Humans and Non-Human Animals

      Hiuser, Kristopher J. (University of Chester, 2014-10)
      This thesis examines the doctrine of the incarnation with particular attention to the implications of this doctrine for a theological understanding of human/nonhuman relationships. To do so, it is guided by two driving questions: Why did God become human in particular in the incarnation?, and what are the implications of the humanity of Christ for the way in which Christian theology construes the human/nonhuman relationship? Each chapter is guided by these questions, and seeks to find and test the answers given by four major theologians from the Christian tradition: Anselm of Canterbury and sin, Gregory of Nyssa and the image of God, Maximus the Confessor and the human constitution as microcosm, and Karl Barth and the human calling to be a representative covenantal partner. Through the use of the guiding questions, and engagement with these four theologians and their respective answers, three theses are developed over the course of the dissertation. First, that God’s motivation for the incarnation extends beyond the human to include the nonhuman creature. Of the various reasons put forward throughout this thesis, each of them is shown to include the nonhuman animal in some way. Second, that God became human in particular due to the unique human calling to be a representative creature. In arriving at this conclusion, various viewpoints are considered and ultimately rejected as being sufficient to account for God’s will to become human in particular. Third, the unique human calling of representation is shown to carry with it ethical implications for humans with regards to nonhuman animals. Given the human calling of representing creation to God, and God to creation, there are necessary ethical implications which such a calling has for what it means to be human.
    • Deconstructing Materiality: A Phenomenological Ethnography of Darśan and Indian Story-Telling Scrolls in Western Museums

      Gamberi, Valentina (University of Chester, 2015-11)
      This study investigates Western curatorial practices towards the darśan, the visual contact established between the Hindu worshipper and the deity who is believed to give life to its material representation, expressed by two sets of Indian storytelling scrolls, the Bengali pats and the Rajasthani paṛs. Whilst the scrolls, especially the Rajasthani ones, are believed to be the temples and the icons of the deity depicted, Western curators appreciate them either as examples of ethnographic theories, or as pure art works. On the one hand, materiality is thus animistically empowered (see Faure, 1998), and, consequently, is treated as an anthropomorphic entity or fetish. On the other hand, materiality is considered as a reified idea, an objectification of a social structure, or of an ideal of beauty. Latour (2010) calls this phenomenon of reification a factish concept, which is revered in a semi-spiritual or post-secular way. Modernity, according to Latour, is characterised by this opposition between self-evident, abstract and intellectual notions –e.g. the categories of the sacred and of the profane –and the concrete and irrational reality. The differentiation between reality and ideas recalls the broader boundary between the human and the nonhuman. According to Merleau-Ponty (2003 [c. 1956]), materiality coincides with nature, one of the fundamental criteria of the categorisation of human/nonhuman. While human characteristics are highly rational, materiality, along with animality, is confined within the irrational realm and is considered as a passive actor, except for Gell’s (1998) theorisation of material agency. However, his conceptualisation depends upon an anthropomorphisation of the artefact by invoking the particular example of children’s play with toys. The present thesis explores the contribution of phenomenology, as the study of embodiments and incarnations, in problematising the role of materiality in its relationships with humans, and so the boundaries between the human and the nonhuman. On the one hand, the study employs phenomenology as a methodological tool, according to which the researcher’s body reveals a particular and intersubjective appraisal of materiality. On the other hand, phenomenology, corroborated by posthumanist studies, is the theoretical approach by which the duality object/subject is problematised. By this logic, phenomenology challenges the ontological idea of the I or human as separated from the Other or the nonhuman, by replacing it with a hybridism and a fusion between the perceiving and the perceived. Fieldwork data problematises this anthropomorphisation of materiality. In fact, visitors’ responses escape from the curators’ control and reveal how museum artefacts possess an agency independent from any human projection. In addition, data emphasises the irreconciliability between epistemic categories and the empiric reality. For instance, the Durkheimian notions of the sacred and of the profane become inapt to describe the phenomenon of the recreation of religious contexts and places, such as temples and altars.
    • Diverse Excellencies: Jonathan Edwards on the Attributes of God

      Rigney, Joseph, J. (University of Chester, 2019-03-03)
      This thesis explores Jonathan Edwards’s view of God’s attributes in light of his Trinitarian theology. In particular, I argue that, contrary to the claims of some Edwards scholars, Edwards clearly affirms the doctrine of divine simplicity throughout his writings as it was held among the Reformed scholastics. Through an exposition of his Discourse on the Trinity in light of its historical and polemical context, I demonstrate both Edwards’s orthodoxy and his distinct innovations in expressing the orthodox view of the Trinity. Notably, I show that Edwards distinguishes the persons of the Godhead by means of a strong psychological account of the Trinity positing that the only real distinctions in God are those of being, understanding, and will, which correspond to the three persons of the Godhead. Additionally, Edwards maintains the unity of the Godhead by appeal to divine simplicity, whereby “everything (real) in God is God.” Finally, Edwards upholds the personhood of each person through the biblical doctrine of perichoresis. This exposition enables me to respond to a variety of criticism of Edwards’s trinitarianism. The second part of my thesis unfolds Edwards’s attribute classification system as it proceeds from his trinitarianism and his account of the God-world relation. Edwards distributes attributes in two primary ways. First, he distributes attributes into real attributes, which simply are the persons of the Godhead, and modal or relative attributes, which are real attributes in relation to creation. Second, he distributes attributes into natural attributes and moral attributes, based on whether they are reducible to God’s being and understanding on the one hand, or reducible to God’s will on the other. Within relative attributes, I demonstrate further distinctions such as capacity attributes, which are sufficiencies in God to certain effects and which are relatively dormant until God wills to create, and negative attributes, which Edwards surprisingly includes within relative attributes on the basis of the fact that they deny some creaturely quality to God and thereby depend upon creation’s existence for their intelligibility. I conclude by bringing Edwards’s taxonomy of attributes to bear on the question of divine freedom and creation’s necessity, showing that while Edwards does differ in some ways from his Reformed forebears, he does not hold, as some scholars claim, that God is essentially creative and that creation is necessary. Rather, Edwards employs the category of “fitness” to describe God’s acts of communicating his glory and the employment of creation as a means to that end.
    • The divine warrior and cosmic catastrophe: the impact of the sibylline oracles on interpretation of Mark 13:24-25

      Middleton, Paul; Angel, Andy; McBay, Susannah E. (University of Chester, 2017-04)
      The meaning of cosmic catastrophe language (CCL) in Mark 13:24-25 is widely contested: both in regards to what type of language is used and to what event it refers, namely the fall of temple at Jerusalem in 70CE or the Parousia of Christ. Recent contributions from Marcus, Shively and Angel have identified the mythological background behind the language, but still interpret this mythology in different ways. In this thesis I elucidate the tradition behind CCL, specifically that of the Jewish Divine Warrior Tradition (DWT), to assess further its development in the Second Temple period and inform interpretations of Mark 13:24-25. Using a historical-critical, criterion-based approach, I demonstrate that the DWT is used in thirteen texts in the Sibylline Oracles and that this use expresses divine opinion and judgement upon political entities and spiritual powers that oppose God and his heavenly host. I also show that the DWT in Sib. Or. 3-5 incorporates elements from Stoic cosmological imagery, which was separated from the Stoic doctrine of ἐκπύρωσις with the advent and rise of Roman Stoicism. The result of this has various implications for navigating the interpretations of Mark 13:24-27 and I conclude that the cosmic catastrophe of vv.24-25 is best understood as describing the cosmic upheaval and demise of spiritual powers that relate to the temple and its leaders at the coming of the Divine Warrior.
    • Ecumenical Mission Communities in the County of Cumbria: An Interrogation of the Impact of Implementation on Chaplaincy Models

      Glynn, Jones (University of ChesterUniversity of Chester, 2020-01)
      In 2014 Anglican, Methodist, Salvation Army and United Reformed churches in Cumbria came together under a formal covenant to form ‘Mission Communities’. The stated intention for these new groupings was to resolve to seek out every opportunity for joint initiatives: to work together to equip both lay and ordained ministry – and to share buildings and resources wherever possible. Mission Communities were to share a common evangelistic emphasis under the banner of ‘God for All’. This thesis identifies that the ecumenical and evangelistic nature of the new, imposed structure has been the cause of a disconnect between chaplains and Mission Communities. The research question addressed throughout is, ‘What is the impact of Mission Communities on chaplaincy models in Cumbria?’ After tracing the historical development of Mission Communities, due to the needs of the research I identified all the chaplains in the county and offered every one of them the opportunity to participate by expressing their perception of how the introduction of Mission Communities has impacted upon their work and ministry. A thematic analysis of responses extrapolates that five significant issues arise: ecumenism, same-sex relations, sacraments, the role of women in Christian leadership and episcopacy. The weight of the collective view on each of these issues is balanced against an alternative view and then synthesised into a summary of the theological and practical impact as a whole. Whilst the purpose of this research was to identify early impact with a view to informing the wider church of the implications of reorganising in this way, the results are mixed and reflect the issues that were uppermost in church conversation at the time the research was conducted. It may provide the foundation for a longitudinal study at the conclusion (in 2020) of the Cumbrian outreach initiative ‘God for All’, when ecumenical Mission Communities in Cumbria will have been established for four years and a second phase of impact can be assessed. Three outcomes were envisaged: 1) To provide denominational leaders with a basis on which to assess the impact that their decisions have made on ordained and lay ministers across Cumbia. 2) To encourage chaplains to assess how they engage and function with Mission Communities after identifying themselves and/or their colleagues in this study. 3) To be of practical use to those of the wider church who may be in the process of exploring similar changes. To this end, the thesis concludes with a clear set of recommendations to enable chaplains and Mission Communities to reconnect.
    • An Examination of an Ongoing Process of Transition of an Older Generation Church to a Narrative Form of Preaching

      Wright, Stephen; Rich, Tony; Ford, Tim (University of Chester, 2017-06)
      Preaching remains central to the Evangelical Church tradition. This research examined whether the style of preaching in one such church could usefully be transitioned into another style which might be more widely helpful for congregants. Analysis of this church’s archives suggested a preaching pattern that tended towards a single style, often in ‘points’ and ‘sub-points’ irrespective of the literary genres of the biblical text preached upon. The style primarily conveyed information to the listeners and in varying degrees offered ‘application’ to their lives. The aim of the research was to examine whether a focus on the narrative of the Bible, from individual texts to the biblical meta-narrative, and setting this within the congregational life narratives, would offer a better and more varied style of preaching. The proposed preaching style emphasises engagement with the text rather than primarily offering information about it. Richard Osmer’s reflective cycle was adopted as the methodological framework for this thesis. The research was conducted within the church community and was largely a qualitative inquiry. Congregants reflected on past and present preaching, and on a series of sermons preached in a narrative style. The congregational research was then examined in the light of established homiletic literature. The main findings were a positive response to the new style, and unexpectedly that there was an interest in congregants being directly involved in sermons through interjections, particularly in offering life illustrations that relate to what the preacher is saying. This moves away from a preacher and hearer framework to that of the sermon being a shared event. As a result of the research a preaching model called ‘threefold narrativity’ is proposed in the thesis. This model allows for variations of the style of individual sermons within the model, and a means by which a preacher may monitor the balance of sermons is offered. Ways of implementing change in order to utilise this model were then considered, and a final meta-reflection of the process is made.
    • Focalization in the Old Testament Narratives with Specific Examples from the Book of Ruth

      Firth, David; Nazarov, Konstantin (University of Chester, 2018-11-22)
      The works in the field of general narratology that have been written since the first introduction of the concept by Genette in 1972 demonstrate a great dynamic in the development of this concept. Unfortunately, the refinements of Genette’s theory often suffer from inconsistency of definitions and remain heuristic, which does not allow the dissemination of the achievements to other types of texts (for example, Old Testament narratives). In the field of biblical narratology the concept of focalization (especially its recent development) was largely overlooked, and the attempts to study the Old Testament narratives in relation to the notion of focalization are generally not accompanied by careful examination of the subject. The purpose of the present research is the consideration of the narratological concept of focalization with regard to the Book of Ruth. To this end, the research examines if recent narrative theories suggest a universal methodology of exploring focalization that can be equally applicable to any narrative texts (including Old Testament narratives) and what are the specifics of applying this methodology to the Old Testament narratives? To answer the question above, the research considers Wolf Schmid’s ideal genetic model of narrative constitution and Valeri Tjupa’s theory of eventfulness and narrative world pictures as universal models for studying focalization. With some modifications and refinements these ideas are transformed into a methodology of studying focalization in the Old Testament narratives. The application of the method to the Book of Ruth shows that on the level of selection of narrative information, the narrator selects sixteen episodes that constitute four narratological events that became the basis of the plot. Then, on the level of composition by the means of reported speech and the play of horizons, those episodes and events were placed in a certain order. Finally, on the level of presentation, these events were presented mainly in the scope of internal focalization, which as demonstrated in the work correlates with the use of the qatal form of the Hebrew verb. Since Schmid’s ideal genetic model of narrative constitution claims to be universal, the method of studying focalization can be equally applied to other Old Testament narratives. Tjupa’s theory of eventfulness and narrative world pictures can help to emphasize narratological events and to blueprint the thread of the narrative and logic of selectivity for those Old Testament narratives that do not have clear division into episodes and events. A subject of special interest is the question if the hypothesis about correlation between constructions with the qatal form of the Hebrew verb and internal focalization remains true to other Old Testament narratives.
    • Forming Ministers or Training Leaders? An Exploration of Practice and the Pastoral Imagination

      Wright, Nigel; Clarke, Anthony J. (University of Chester, 2017-02)
      This thesis is a piece of practitioner research located in the context of the author’s practice as Tutor in Pastoral Studies at Regent’s Park College. It is written from the context of change, both from denominational reviews, university restructuring and government funding and from wider changes in theological education and arises from a sense of dissatisfaction that recent debates have tended to separate out a discussion about the preparation for ministry from an understanding of ministry itself. The thesis explores ideas of ministry and leadership, arguing that, in the face of the challenge posed by leadership language and thought, a historic and contemporary Baptist understanding of ministry is best understood through a dialectical model of ministry, a habitus, rather than through a habitus of leadership. It then charts the history of preparation for ministry among Baptists and explores the contemporary developments in language and suggests that formation is the most appropriate and helpful description of the process.
    • Germain Grisez’s natural law and creation theology as a framework for reflection on climate change and the ecological crisis

      Clough, David; Deane-Drummond, Celia; Turvey, Jacaranda L. (University of Liverpool, 2016-01)
      My thesis is that a recovery of Germain Grisez’s theological ethics in relation to the environment and the application of his conservative Catholic methodology to climate change can yield a novel and significant contribution to Catholic theological reflection on this central challenge in an age of ecological crisis. This thesis argues that climate change and the wider ecological crisis are ‘signs of the times’—and hence are appropriate issues for Catholic theological reflection—both in principle and on the basis of their classification as such within the authoritative teaching of the Church’s magisterium. The scientific evidence for the phenomenon of anthropogenic global warming is robust and the UNFCCC establishes a collective legal obligation to deliver a greenhouse gas abatement strategy rigorous enough to prevent ‘dangerous anthropogenic interference with the earth’s climatic system’. This thesis questions both the assumption of endemic anthropocentricism in the Judeo-Christian tradition and the critical-revisionist methodology adopted by a number of ecotheologians in relation to Vatican teaching on the basis of this assumption. This thesis proposes an alternative approach to reflection on ecological issues employing a conservative Catholic theological method exemplified in the work of Germain Grisez. This thesis proposes a rereading of Grisez’s natural law through the lens of his creation theology that reveals an important and hitherto overlooked resource for environmental ethics. Although Grisez himself does not address the climate challenge in his published work, this thesis shows that his ecological insights are pertinent to the issue and application of his theological method can contribute constructively to the wider project of confronting the climate crisis from a Catholic perspective. This thesis further argues that Grisez’s reconstruction of natural law is viable, in that it represents one philosophically cogent solution to the naturalistic fallacy, and that neither his choice of this solution nor his divergence from Classical Thomism compromise the construction of a ‘Grisez School environmental ethics’. In addition, his natural law has the virtue of catholicity in its capacity to contribute to ecumenical and secular debates necessary to the resolution of the climate crisis.
    • The Gift of Leaven: A new feminist theological praxis for urban church

      Dawson, Claire L (University of Chester, 2019-09)
      This thesis documents my research quest into the post-regeneration community of Bootle, North Liverpool. A Housing Market Renewal Initiative had decimated the area. As a Church of England minister, I was struggling to find signs of life and had no theological paradigm in which to situate my ministerial practice. My argument is that the current arborescent theology and practices of the Church of England have excluded the phronēsis of white working-class women and have failed to deliver a life-sustaining praxis for urban church. I argue for a reprioritisation of the poor and the inclusion of marginalised voices; allowing these voices to shape and define the academy as opposed to letting the academy shape which voices are to be heard. I came to this research holding a feminist and liberative theological standpoint: prioritising and privileging the voices of women and those on the margins. My research design adopts a feminist and narrative methodological framework in its quest to uncover the hidden phronēsis of the Bootle women. The transcripts of their lives are analysed using a thematic network analysis which generates three global themes: hope; placed and particular; and the death space. This thematic network is the main finding of my research quest and is the Gift of Leaven: the distilled phronēsis of the Bootle women. This research project is multidisciplinary. The Gift of Leaven is brought into conversation with voices from social science; public urban theology; feminist theology; and urban geography. Through a spiralling process of theological reflection the strands of a new feminist theological praxis for urban church are defined. What I produce in this thesis is a new feminist praxis for urban church from the underside of life and from voices that are notably absent from academia and ecclesiology. This new praxis is not a carefully-crafted mission action plan of how the Church should engage in urban life. What is offered instead is a new way of seeing and feeling the urban. This is situated within the lo cotidiano and objects of the ordinary and is revealed through fragments; it is new women’s knowledge coming to birth in women’s story and women’s song. It does not readily offer quick social or theological fixes to life’s fissures. It provides a way of flourishing and life from a different paradigm, and that paradigm is the phronēsis of the Bootle women. It is the women themselves who become the heralds of good tidings and the God bearers. They bring the Gift of Leaven for the whole community so that bread may be baked and the wounded body fed. The task is now to make space so their voices can be heard.
    • “The Great Story on Which the Plot Turns”: Cruciformity in C.S. Lewis’ Narrative Spiritual Theology

      Dickieson, Brenton (University of ChesterUniversity of Chester, 2019-05)
      This thesis presses in on C.S. Lewis’ extremely diverse corpus to explore his integrative narrative spirituality of the cross. Chapter one argues that Lewis’ concept of spiritual self-death and resurrection is lacking critical treatment despite the spirituality of the cross that I argue is deeply woven into the fabric of Lewis’ poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and letters. This cross-shaped spirituality, what Michael Gorman calls “cruciformity,” is central to Lewis’ understanding of Christian life. Though neglected because of readings of Lewis that reduce him to the role of an apologist, chapter one surveys occasional notes about this death-and-resurrection motif in Lewis scholarship and provides definitions for methodological approaches to the study. Following definitions of spiritual theology by Eugene Peterson, chapter two turns from systematic theological explorations of Lewis to consider him as a spiritual theologian, a move that is organic to his theological enterprise, his epistemology, and his fiction. Chapter three explores Gorman’s biblical-theological approach to Pauline cruciformity, arguing that there is a six-point Logic of Cruciformity in Lewis’ so-called apologetics writings that moves past and refocuses Thomas à Kempis’ Imitation of Christ. As Lewis’ spirituality is embedded in narrative form within poetry, fiction, and nonfiction, chapter four explores “The Shape of Cruciformity” in Lewis’ œuvre, using Northrop Frye’s narratology and J.R.R. Tolkien’s theory of eucatastrophe to argue that there is a comedic, U-shaped pattern of cruciform imagery in Lewis’ fiction, poetry, and nonfiction. Chapter five interrogates Lewis’ integrative, normative narrative cruciformity with feminist theological critique, provoked by Anna Fisk’s concerns about cross-shaped spiritualities in women’s experiences. A response to this problematisation reveals an inversive quality inherent to Lewis’ thought that is itself U-shaped, comedic, and eucatastrophic. Chapter six explores this inversive U-shaped thinking central to Lewis’ theological project, arguing that the shape of cruciformity in Lewis is the shape of his spiritual theology. I conclude the thesis with “sacred paradoxes” in Lewis’ thought that invite further work and deepen our understanding of Lewis’ concept of spiritual life, thus inviting a prophetic self-critique for Christian believers.