Pauline theology

THE INDICATIVE / IMPERATIVE CONSTRUCT IN PAUL’S WRITINGS AS A PASTORAL TOOL FOR SPIRITUAL FORMATION

Author
Christopher Allen Oliveri D.Min.
Abstract
A distorted view of the gospel leads to distorted Christian lives. This is particularly true when believers try to live the Christian life without an awareness of what the gospel says about their union with Christ. In this condition they become vulnerable to two grave spiritual dangers legalism and licentiousness. The Indicative / Imperative construct can bring clarity and help against the debilitating effects of these two detrimental spiritual conditions. This construct is found especially in the Pauline epistles (Eph. 4:1ff.; Rom. 12:1ff.) as the Apostle boldly declares to the recipients who they are in Christ (indicative) and then how they must live anew on the basis of this new spiritual identity (imperative).

This project utilized qualitative research techniques to explore the use of the Indicative / Imperative Construct as a pastoral tool for spiritual formation. The researcher preached a series of seven sermons highlighting the Indicative / Imperative construct in the writings of Paul. A focus group of twelve participants gathered weekly following each sermon. A pre and post focus group survey was utilized along with weekly homework assignments. A group interview was conducted during the eighth and final focus group gathering. Four weeks after the final focus group meeting, each participant took part in an individual interview. A trained participant observer recorded field notes throughout each focus group session. These notes, in combination with the researcher’s observational notes, provided a multilayered data set for evaluation as the project progressed.

After evaluating the data results, trends towards spiritual growth in connection with a deepening grasp of the Indicative / Imperative Construct became apparent in the lives of several project participants. There were other trends in the data that were not overwhelmingly conclusive however, the researcher learned several lessons from this project that will impact his ministry for years to come.
Subscribe to Pauline theology