The purpose of this dissertation is to address the confusion and lack of agreement that pervades the understanding of the gospel of Jesus Christ among persons within the Episcopal Church by elucidating significant worldview presuppositions that are often present but not often acknowledged. Promising developments in the Episcopal Church and postmodern theology will be highlighted that suggest ways forward for greater unity leading to more fruitful gospel mission in a postmodern world.
This dissertation is about rediscovering the gospel of Jesus Christ amidst a sea of confusion about what that word means, especially within the Episcopal Church. The gospel is the central message of Jesus Christ that summarizes His teachings, and yet in the Church today the gospel is quite often not a topic of discussion; instead, debates focus on other more prominent issues. A wide variety of gospel understandings are often derived in large part from worldview assumptions rather than from careful consideration of the commonly accepted Episcopal sources of Scripture, reason, and tradition. A rediscovery of the gospel message in the Episcopal Church, where division abounds, offers potential for a greater unity that transcends the current theological divisions that plague the church.
This dissertation has three parts. Part One focuses on the gospel in Holy Scripture. Chapter 1 considers the gospel in the four canonical Gospels and Chapter 2 explores the gospel in the remainder of the New Testament. It will be argued that persons within the Episcopal Church often perceive the gospel in ways inconsistent with the New Testament.
Part Two addresses the concept of gospel in tradition through a brief review of the gospel in church history in Chapter 3 and then by examining how the gospel is portrayed in the Book of Common Prayer in Chapter 4. The broad gospel of Scripture will be revealed as the gospel of the early church and the prayer book.
Part Three will explore the gospel in reason in the context of the Episcopal Church of the postmodern era. This section will discuss elements of both modern and postmodern worldviews entwined within various understandings of the gospel message. Chapter 5 focuses on the postmodern context. Chapter 6 examines postmodern theologies that are emerging in that context, while Chapter 7 connects these with the present state of leadership in the Episcopal Church by means of a survey of diocesan bishops’ view of the gospel conducted for this dissertation.
It will be demonstrated that the gospel of Jesus Christ revealed in Scripture, upheld in theological tradition, and affirmed by reason of contemporary theology is more broadly defined than is often acknowledged, and that substantially more unity is possible.
Theological Mentor: Kurt Fredrickson, PhD.
Material is subject to copyright.
Walley, Kent R., "The Gospel of Jesus Christ in the Episcopal Church: Hope for Unity and Fruitful Mission" (2012). Doctor of Ministry Projects. 94.