Breakthrough Dynamics in Acts and Selected Vineyard Churches: Exploring the Use of Conflict Criticism in Biblical Interpretation

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This dissertation explores the use of a conflict model to interpret Acts as seen in Luke’s consistent use of a “nothing can hinder it” motif. Part 1 deals with barriers preventing the advance of the gospel and identifies five corporate and four personal barriers that need to be overcome. Part 2 deals with numerous breakthrough categories, the first encompassing what might be called the Trinitarian nature of breakthroughs by highlighting God’s sovereignty through things He does, Jesus fulfills and the Spirit empowers. The second set of breakthrough categories is set within the mystery of human responsibility. This section lists five aspects of communicating the Word and another five demonstrating the Works that are done to demonstrate and validate the reality of the Word. After each barrier and breakthrough numerous personal and collective behaviors are listed that flesh out breakthrough dynamics, even though these applications only serve to illustrate the dynamics and are not intended to be repeatable patterns for all time. Luke’s readers are left to contextualize the Jesus culture in new situations. Parts 1 and 2 are summed up by an at-a-glance table in Appendix A that lists barriers and breakthroughs as they are narrated by Luke in Acts.

On this foundation the work turns to the present age and analyzes five Vineyard churches to see if Luke’s breakthrough dynamics apply. The data will show that there are enough similarities to conclude that those churches that attempt to build cultures that emulate the breakthrough dynamics in Acts make forward progress through suffering.

Having shown that Luke was intentional about using a conflict model as a principle lens through which to interpret Luke-Acts, this then legitimizes further study into what might be called “conflict criticism.” Assuming that the bigger story of the cosmic war between light and dark is always sub textual, interpreters should make the exploration of this conflict a part of their hermeneutical toolkit.

Mentor: Tom A. Steffen

Degree Name

Doctor of Missiology (DMiss)

First Advisor

Steffen, Tom A.

Document Type





Acts, Vineyard Christian Fellowship, Suffering, Social conflict in the Bible


Missions and World Christianity


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