Christian life

Comparison of Luther and Calvin on Sunday observance

Author
Harry Buis
Abstract
How should a Christian sanctify the Lord's Day? What principles should direct him in making use of this day according to the will of God? This problem has become increasingly perplexing in our nation today. It is a problem which is especially acute for many people in the Reformed Church in America. Many of these people came from a background of strict Sunday observance. Is this observance primarily cultural or is it biblical? If it is a combination of the two, on what basis can one untangle these
strands?

This problem is especially critical because today, as never before, the Reformed Church in America is reaching out into the typical American community with an evangelistic approach. As she does so, she must not lose her rich heritage; rather she must share it. On the other hand, she ought not to impose upon others any part of that heritage which is culturally conditioned rather than essentially Christian. Even those aspects of that culture which are commendable ought not to be made requirements for membership in the Church of Jesus Christ.

In dealing with Americans of many different cultural and religious backgrounds, one finds no greater variety of viewpoint than that toward the proper use of the Lord' s Day, for America itself is undergoing a great change in its attitudes toward the use of Sunday. In a few generations, this day has been changed from one largely used for rest and worship to one used largely for work and leasure. The Puritan Sabbath, which had a large influence in earlier American history, has given way to a far different viewpoint. The result is confusion of thought on the subject, and therefore prevailing practices are based on expediency rather than on definite principles.

Standing in grace : a relational overview of Christian life

Author
Benjamin Zandstra
Abstract
This project is designed to provide average readers with a relational overview of Christian life. it reflects a Reformation perspective or the centrality of grace and is presented with the hope of increasing the reader's clarity in understanding and living a complete Christian life. The Context is described by means of a summary of selected aspects of the research done by the United Church Board for Homeland Ministries and the Search institute. The contents were used in the adult education program of the Surprise Valley Parish, United Church of Christ, in rural, northeastern California.

The introduction is intended as an invitation, to pull the reader into considering a comprehensive view of their faith. The Conclusion provides the reader with a summary along with a sense of commission that suggests directions for further exploration and implementation.

The four Chapters describe standing in grace with ourselves, others, the world, and God. The approach begins with the reflexive relatlonship and moves continuously outward until it culminates with one's ultimate relationship. Throughout, God's grace in Jesus of Nazareth is the point of reference for understanding the nature of these relationships. This is done with a view toward describing how a maturing Christian faith might manifest itself in these relationships in the ever-changing temporal context. Also, basic resources for growth are suggested along with questions for reflection and discussion.

Abide in me : a proposal for covenant-renewal in Mennonite Church Manitoba

Author
Henry Kliewer
Abstract

Having walked with the Mennonite Church in a pastoral capacity for over 40 years, the last six as conference pastor of Mennonite Church Manitoba (MCM), I sensed a growing need among its member congregations for renewal of relationship with God and with each other. The concept of " covenant" became a vehicle for testing the potential for meeting such a need. Research in various disciplines — biblical, historical and sociological — broadened the understanding of the term and provided the basis for the doctor in ministry project.

Using the research and participatory methodologies in the project, I took a sample group through a real life experiment with covenant-renewing. The responses of the participants and my analysis sought to answer the hypothesis that a renewed covenant with God is foundational to other relationships in Christian community; it enables the MCM community to grow in faithfulness to God and each other amidst the issues of faith and life, and to discern together through the Holy Spirit the Way of Jesus.

Idolatry, the powers, and cultural formation

Author
Travis D. Else
Abstract


My ministry project is comprised of a literature review and Appreciative Inquiry qualitative study at First Reformed Church to explore the practices and skills needed to live against idolatry and toward faithfulness.

The thesis of my ministry project is that we are surrounded by idols in our communities and in the local church, and must find ways of developing patterns of resistance against the powers that entice us into idolatry. The purpose of my project is to identify practices that will equip and empower the church to resist idolatry and live in faithfulness toward God. The findings of my project will amplify how Christian worship and mission, fueled by Holy Spirit power, are a vital means by which patterns of faithfulness are cultivated and resistance to idolatry and the powers are developed.

The food of God for the people of God : reconnecting food to the Eucharist

Author
David Ryan Boes
Abstract
There is an old saying that “you are what you eat.” But I think it goes further than that. We aren’t just defined by what we eat but who we eat with, where we eat, and how we eat. All of it says something about us. Food is cultural as well as biological—it’s spiritual as well as physical. Food is a ritual, communal, and relational act. All living things are part of what we call the food chain: all things are eating or being eaten. For Christians, the Table of the Lord, the Eucharist, should be the height of our eating. It is the apex of our interaction with food. At the Table, we enter the mystery of provision as we are fed by our good and gracious Father.

However, many of us have lost this connection of table to Table. The Western diet has stolen our diverse and bountiful diet and replaced it with the tepid slop of a fast food nation. Our theology of the Eucharist as been boiled down to individual memorialism of Jesus’ death, instead of a robust and hearty theology of remembrance, communion and hope.

So how might we go about reconnecting table to Table? I started with scripture where the Apostle Paul reminds the Church about its identity at the Table and how every table that we gather around forms us. Then I followed this thread through the theology of John Calvin to discover this connection within the Reformed tradition. Additionally, I use the voice of Jean-Jaques von Allmen to demonstrate how every meal that we eat is the prelude to and an echo of the meal that we eat at the Table of our Lord. Finally, I invite the gathered Church and households to engage in some practices of reconnection.

Ecclesiology and discipleship : rediscovering an effective communal approach

Author
Robert Edwin McAndrews
Abstract
I love what the Reformed Church in America adopted in 2013 as its 15-year vision for ministry (condensed to this phrase), “Transformed and Transforming.” It is both “life change” and “life changing.” There’s a considerable amount of time, effort, and growth that occurs between those two very different terms. These two basic endeavors are what disciples of Jesus should be doing with their lives. We have been transformed, redeemed through the work of Christ on the cross; it begins here with God’s grace and salvation, imparted by the Holy Spirit. Then it must continue by daily taking up our cross and dying to self, or transforming; the life-long process of sanctification. Our church leaders have recognized that it’s not about creating programs, nor one size fits all, but it does involve discovering and rethinking how we can best carry on the work our Lord Jesus commissioned us to be doing.

Walking in water : nurturing baptismal identity through congregational worship

Author
Catherine E Smith
Abstract
How can congregations prepare our young people for the challenges of an unknown future? I came into this project with three assumptions: the key to preparing our young people for the future lies in identity formation; the identity that will sustain them in the unknown is the one given to them in Baptism; and the best opportunity for churches to shape and nurture this identity is through the ongoing, life-long experience of congregational worship. Thus, this project questions how identity is shaped, what identity the young people of our congregations are currently being shaped in, what the content of Baptismal Identity is, and how congregations can best shape and nurture that identity through congregational worship. Identity, the project finds, is shaped as practices and liturgies of the various cultures in which we live, work, learn, play, and worship inform our understanding of who we are, who our people are, and what our hope and purpose are. The project investigates the various cultures in which our young people dwell and the faith our churches are largely teaching them; and then claims that the identity these cultures and faith instruction are shaping and nurturing in our young people will not sustain them in the unknown challenges of the future. Following a broad study of Biblical covenant history, creation in the imago dei, new creation in Christ, the covenant family of God, and the call to live out God’s relational purposes and redemptive plan; I propose a definition of the identity our young people receive in the waters of baptism which will provide the solid ground on which they will need to walk in the unknown future.

Unplugging to connect : reimagining Christian identity formation in the digital age

Author
David N Parrish
Abstract
Screens are here to stay. With their myriad uses, screens have found a permanent place in our lives. We reap many benefits from our screens, but thoughtful observers cannot help but wonder, “Are screens delivering on their promised purpose in our lives?” There is good reason to consider thoughtfully how we use them. Overstimulation and constant connection are taking a toll on our souls. We have seen a significant decline in mental health since the invention of the smartphone. Overuse of screens, especially social media, leads to lower levels of happiness and higher levels of anxiety. We do well to be intentional about how we use screens and to implement practices that will mitigate their negative effects. This paper explores the shadow side of screen use. It also looks into relevant Christian practices that help develop one’s identity as a beloved child of God. My project invited families into a six-week experience with imaginative prayer. While my focus is on kids and screens, I believe this project offers something for everyone who wants to be released from screen’s grip into glorious freedom as beloved children of God.

An Examination of Lee Rutland Scarborough's Influence on the Southern Baptist Convention From 1918-1925

Author
Ronald D Rucker D.Min.
Abstract
This dissertation examines the life and works of Lee Rutland Scarborough to determine his influence on the Southern Baptist Convention from 1918-1925.

Chapter 1 introduces the study and includes a thesis statement and an examination of the biographical factors, which influenced Scarborough’s life. This chapter includes Scarborough’s family background, call to ministry, education, pastoral experience, summary, and timeline.

Chapter 2 examines Scarborough’s influence as general director of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Seventy-Five Million Campaign, which was a program intended to raise 75 million dollars over a five-year period from 1919-1924, to help finance Baptist efforts in missions, education, and other benevolent work. This chapter presents his influence in development and implementation of a strategy to execute the campaign.

Chapter 3 examines Scarborough’s influence as a committee member of the Future Program Commission, which recommended adopting the Southern Baptist Convention’s Cooperative Program [CP] in 1925. This chapter presents his influence related to the theological convictions he maintained in the area of cooperation.

Chapter 4 examines Scarborough’s influence as a member of the Baptist Faith & Message committee, which framed the first Southern Baptist convention-wide confession, entitled the Baptist Faith & Message in 1925. Prior to the 1925 confession, they used the New Hampshire Confession of Faith (1833) and the Abstract of Principles (1858).

Chapter 5 provides a conclusion for the entire dissertation and centers on one of the most important concepts espoused by Scarborough during his lifetime. The concept of cooperation was redefined by Scarborough in a way for Southern Baptists that still marks a distinguishing feature of the denomination today. This chapter solidifies the thesis of the dissertation by an examination of how Scarborough utilized his influence to engineer a new direction for Southern Baptist through his efforts on the Seventy-Five Million Campaign, formation of the Cooperative Program and the Baptist Faith & Message.

Researching the Spirituality of Sex Addicts Anonymous to Develop a Pastoral Guide to the Sexually Addicted

Author
Dedrick J. Minor
Abstract
The purpose of this project was to research the spirituality of Sex Addicts Anonymous (SAA), a twelve-step program for individuals who desire to stop their sexual compulsive behaviors, to develop a pastoral guide for spiritual caregivers to sex addicts. Due to the contentiousness of the concept of sexual addiction, few pastoral care guides exist to reach sex addicts and this project addressed that need. The project director utilized both primary and secondary sources related to the fields of pastoral care and counseling while researching the spirituality of SAA, adapting his findings to the specific spiritual needs of sex addicts. This project culminated in the development of a pastoral care guide to be utilized by spiritual caregivers in the provision of pastoral care to the sexually addicted. The final state of this project was the completion of a pastoral care guide for spiritual caregivers to assist them in ministering to sex addicts.
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