Professional Dissertations DMin

Date of Award

2020

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Ministry

College

Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary

Program

Doctor of Ministry DMin

First Advisor

Larry Lichtenwalter

Second Advisor

David Penno

Third Advisor

Richard Davidson

Abstract

Problem

Based on feedback from members of the Hillside O’Malley Church through personal conversations, theological polarization threatened to paralyze the local church and keep it from fulfilling its mission of ministering to its members and reaching out to the community with the gospel message. The theological polarization stemmed from divergences on the presuppositional, macro-hermeneutical level that are revealed visibly in how members interpret the biblical text.

Method

The methodology that was employed was to derive biblical principles from an exegesis of the book of Acts specifically related to theological reason, which included an understanding of how presuppositions worked in the minds of individuals described in the book of Acts. The principles were applied towards a dialogical model at the Hillside O’Malley Church. The literature review examined seminal and contemporary Christian thinkers concerning theological reason; the dialogical model was informed but not determined by the literature review as the foundational principles were intended to come from Scripture. The participants in the dialogical model were members of the Hillside O’Malley Church and engaged in a preparation process prior to dialogue through intellectual and heart preparation, which was an application of principles derived from an exegesis of the book of Acts. The participants engaged in a series of three dialogues, which were applications of the principles derived from the book of Acts. The dialogues were preceded by an initial interview and followed by a final interview. The interviews were examined qualitatively to see whether the dialogue had lowered negative interpersonal feelings in the minds of the participants stemming from theological polarization and whether the participants sensed possible shifts on a presuppositional level as a result of the dialogue.

Results

Eight participants took part in the implementation process. All of the participants expressed that the dialogue implementation had slightly improved the relational dynamics between the participants; however, after the dialogue, half of the participants still expressed anxiety about the potential issues stemming from theological polarization as they looked towards the future. Seven out of the eight participants conveyed that they perceived that there was no change in the ideological frameworks of the participants as a result of the dialogue. Those participants sensed that everyone was set in their theological positions, which indicated that there was no notable change in the participant’s presuppositions as a result of the dialogue implementation.

Conclusion

Although there was minimal change in the relational dynamics between the participants, the dialogue implementation did not cause ideological shifts that affected theological polarization. The theological reflection of the book of Acts revealed that individual human volition surrender to Scripture and the Holy Spirit’s illumination, and that conversion is the determiner of whether there are changes at a presuppositional level. Although methodology can potentially provide the environment for the Holy Spirit to work and the opportunity for engagement with Scripture, there is no human formula or method that can change the mind of others.

Subject Area

Dialogue--Religious aspects--Seventh-day Adventists; Conflict management--Religious aspects--Seventh-day Adventists; Theological dialogue; Hillside O'Malley Seventh-day Adventist Church (Anchorage, Alaska)

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