Date of Award

2016

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

School

Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary

Program

Religion, Mission and Ministry PhD

First Advisor

Bruce L. Bauer

Second Advisor

Wagner Kuhn

Third Advisor

Denis Fortin

Abstract

In a little over 100 years, the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Brazil has grown to a membership of 1,447,470 (December 2013), becoming the country with the second highest total number of Adventists in the world. Very little academic research has been done to study or analyze the growth and development of the Adventist church in Brazil. In terms of its mission methods, what is the Christian movement ethos that fostered this development in Brazil? How can it continue to foster Adventist church growth in Brazil in spite of contextual changes?

As a missiological study that reflects typical interdisciplinarity crossing traditional boundaries of academic disciplines to borrow methods and insights and apply them toward a better understanding of a specific problem, this study employs Gailyn van Rheenen’s Missional Helix and intertwines theological reflection, cultural analysis, historical perspective, and strategy formation within the context of the practice of ministry. The first part of this research is a biblico-historical overview of the character of Christian movements followed by a socio-religious systematization of the ethos of Christian movements. The third part focuses on the ethos of the Adventist movement in Brazil including a description and analysis of its mission methods. The present study analyzes five major mission methods used by the Adventist Church in Brazil from 1895 to 2007 based on the characteristics of an Adventist missionary movement ethos in order draw lessons to face the contemporary contextual challenges.

A brief analysis of the Adventist movement in Brazil, according to the proposed ethos model (confession of Jesus as Savior, Lord, and Priest; a missional-incarnational impulse of the soon coming of Jesus; an apostolic movement as part of the Great Controversy; communitas as a reflection of the will of God for relationships as described in God’s commandments; organic systems according to spiritual gifts; and disciple making in preparation for eternity), suggests specific findings. Clearly, the Adventist Church has grown and developed as it has relied on different mission methods (literature evangelism, public evangelism, radio and TV evangelism, metropolitan evangelism, and integrated evangelism). And, even after discounting some of the obviously triumphalist enthusiasm found in the church leaders’ reports and official sources of information, one is able to identify signs of a movement motivated by its mission.

In many ways, the overall lesson of this analysis is the importance of fostering mission as a way of living that is at the core of an Adventist movement and developing methods based on a biblical understanding of Christianity that will develop movements with a missionary ethos. In spite of the somewhat positive analysis of the Adventist movement ethos in Brazil, it is clear that there is much room for improvement in each area. This is especially important in face of the realization of the ideal biblical standards and the current contextual changes. A sign that the Adventist movement in Brazil has developed a true Christian ethos and a mature missiological understanding would be its significant missionary-sending activity to the world.

Subject Area

Missions--Brazil, Seventh-day Adventists--Missions--Brazil, Church growth--Brazil, Church growth--Seventh-day Adventists

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