Biblical and Theological Perspectives
Key theological themes and/or lenses that frame the social science research from a theological perspective
In the previous chapter we highlighted the interdisciplinary nature of this research and highlighted two key theoretical frames. The first is the field of Adult Learning Theory. The second is the field of sociology and urban studies with a special focus on suburban studies. In this chapter we highlight four key theological lenses that frame the research in this dissertation. The first is the doctrine of the social Trinity. The second is the study of spiritual formation, or Christian spirituality. The third is missional ecclesiology. The fourth is Religious Education, specifically focused on the education of adults in the church. Finally, we will highlight two key Biblical passages from which the core theology is informed.
It’s crunch week for Bible Mania. This Saturday I will present a six-hour workshop/experience called Bible Mania where I will lead a group of people through the big story of the Bible from beginning to end. It is like a post-Evangelical, missional, neo-Lutheran version of the Walk Thru the Bible event that I attended and hosted a few decades ago.
I’ve taught the Bible A-Z class for years. Bible Mania is basically a one-day version of that class. However, I’m rolling out two new pieces with Bible Mania. First, the opening session is called “The Story of Five Bibles.” I will use five Bibles that I own to mark the significant eras of my theological life and ministry. This will be a narrative way to introduce the Fundamentalist, Evangelical, and Lutheran perspectives on scripture (since I have lived in all three of these tribes throughout my life).
One of my goals throughout the process of getting a PhD has been to always keep the people in the local congregation in mind. It is painful to see someone’s eyes glaze over when I start to talk. That’s when I realize I’ve slipped into academic-speak. I don’t want to be that guy. If the people in the local church can’t understand what I’m saying, then what’s the point of saying it?
This is a difficult balance to maintain, because the deeper one goes into the academic world, the more one realizes that big words are more efficient to communicate complex ideas. This process, however, creates an elitism–whether intentional or unintentional–within the academy that creates an unfortunate gap between professional theologians and lay theologians (after all, we are all theologians, right?)
The Deep in the Burbs Research Project is, first and foremost, God’s story. That sounds presumptuous, I know. What gives me the right to assume that (a) God has a story, and (b) that I, a finite creature, could know God’s story? I argued earlier that life is story, as opposed to the idea that life is a story. The same can be said about God. God does not have a story to tell. God is story and the life we live is animated within that story.
Any story is communicated through the symbols we call language, or the word. God’s story is the Word of God. Therefore, the first frame we must discuss for this research project is The Word of God frame. This frame is not explicitly found in the question itself, but is an important frame in which the question and the research methodology was pursued.
Toward a Missional Spirituality in the Suburbs