The Deep in the Burbs Research Project is a story of a particular place in Midwest suburbia. It was necessary to pursue this research in a specific location, through participatory action research within three neighboring congregations, because it is my assumption that a reasonably adequate Christian theology is done in, with, under, against, and for the local congregation.1 To know anything truly, especially how God is at work in the world, is to study the particularities of it.2 This research project asks how an increased awareness and understanding of the social Trinity might impact the ideation and praxis of spiritual formation in suburban ELCA congregations. This implies, and I assert, that it might have far different effects on people in different contexts. Therefore, I must limit my inquiry to a specific group of people in a specific place. There are two classifications in which I will describe the people in this study and frame the question.3 The first is suburban. The second is Lutheran.
- I am indebted to Dr. Patrick Keifert for this important understanding of the nature of theology. This is his modification of David Kelsey’s assertion that theological education—To Understand God Truly—is done about, against, and for the local congregation. Kelsey. [↩]
- This asserts an Aristotelean vs. Platonic approach to knowledge. It also denotes the nominalism of Jon Scotus Duns who believed that we can only know the incarnation within the particulars of creation, not in the abstract universal ideals. Further, it takes a phenomenological understanding that all knowledge is bracketed by the experience of the perceiver and communicatively interpreted. [↩]
- In spite of the particularist nature of this inquiry, classifications are still helpful for communication. [↩]