Rediscovering the Bible for Involvement and Insights for Spiritual Growth for the Restoration Church Member
AbstractThis dissertation proposes that many individuals in the Restoration Church, an early nineteenth-century American church movement founded by Barton Stone and Alexander Campbell that today includes hundreds of Churches of Christ/Christian Churches, are experiencing spiritual malnourishment, while finding in the tradition a lack of resources, rhetoric, or guidance to stem the hunger. Section 1 describes the influence of contextualization, tracing the history of the Restoration Movement back to its early philosophical and social influences that resulted in a rationalist and Biblicist interpretation of the Bible that focused primarily on conversion and church organization, while distracting attention from spirituality and divine immanence. Section 2 critiques popular spiritual formation literature from the rationalist-Biblicist mindset to determine its ability for both invitation and instruction for spiritual formation for Restoration members. Section 3 argues for a modest movement toward a more authentic Christian spirituality by maintaining a solid hold on two foundational Restoration beliefs of biblical authority and conversion. Moving forward will involve, first, the rediscovery of Scripture to include the entire canon. This will allow, second, the possibility for a richer soteriology that includes a more informed pneumatology. Third, it will be argued that a more robust and experiential understanding of conversion will lead to a more effectual Christian life. Sections 4 and 5 outline a non-fiction book for the church member to rediscover a wider view of the Bible, salvation, and service that will invite and empower the believer to move into a deeper faith and active Christian life based squarely on the familiar foundations of the Restoration tradition. The artifact will be several chapters of the book described in Sections 4 and 5.