A SUMMARY OF MY MASTER DISSERTATION

For those who were wondering what it was all about, here is the ‘Abstract’ or summary and then the contents of the dissertation.  Thanks to those who encouraged me to finish it.

THE SELF-IDENTITY OF THE ESCHATOLOGICAL CHURCH:

THE PAULINE THEOLOGY OF ALBERT SCHWEITZER
AND SUCCESSORS IN THE RESURFACING OF
A MISSIONAL ECCLESIOLOGY

ABSTRACT

The Pauline Theology of Albert Schweitzer and the developments in this field of study a century on from him forms the core of this current Masters dissertation.  The subject of the investigation is the extent to which Schweitzer was a catalyst in steering the conversation toward a self-identity of the Church which can be described as a participation with Christ in His mission.  The motivation for this investigation is the growing interest and development in what has become known globally as, ‘Missional Ecclesiology’, with its claim to be a more faithful understanding of Paul and a true description of the nature and identity of the earliest Church.

The dissertation concerns itself mainly with the work written in the early part of the 20th century by Albert Schweitzer called, The Mysticism of Paul the Apostle. The present work attempts to highlight and briefly describe Schweitzer’s Pauline theology on key themes such as eschatology, Christ-mysticism, the law, justification, and more.  It then takes a fair selection of New Testament scholars who have been more influential than most in this field and demonstrate how and where they have contributed to the main thesis – that of the self-understanding of the Christian, the Church and her mission.  These include such scholars as: Rudolf Bultmann; CH Dodd; Oscar Cullman; WD Davies; EP Sanders; Lesslie Newbigin; NT Wright, and others.

The investigation is set within the changing context from a Christendom to a post-Christendom environment in Europe with South Africa following close on the heals of these changes.  We are introduced to the statistical data in South Africa with its present situation of change, focussing particularly on the Church of England in South Africa as the Author’s personal context at the time of writing.  After the core work on Schweitzer and his successors is completed with sufficient evidence of Schweitzer’s influence especially in eschatology, the dissertation analyses the post-Christian environment of England and Scotland.  It quite deliberately focuses on the theological responses of the two large National Churches of these countries – the Church of England and the Church of Scotland –  and not on the smaller missional initiatives from newer, independent church groups in order to observe the sense of urgency for change despite the long and historical complexity of these organizations.

The dissertation concludes with an attempt to determine any detectable similarities between the theological response of these national churches in a post-Christian environment and the Pauline conversation of Schweitzer and his successors over the preceding century.  The conclusion shows an overall eschatological orientation in both as well as a similar emphases on a corporate participation in the mission of God in Christ that determines the shape and life of the Church as a foretaste of the Kingdom.

CONTENTS

INTRODUCTION

1.                     Problem Statement and focus

2.                     Theoretical point of departure

2.1.                  Church trends in South Africa

2.2.                  The Church of England in South Africa (CESA)

2.3.                  Concluding remarks

3.                     Plan of research

CHAPTER 1

THE ALBERT SCHWEITZER FACTOR

1.1.                  The Theological Fabric at the Time of Dr Schweitzer

1.2.                  Gathering The Threads Of The Theological Fabric

CHAPTER 2

HOW SCHWEITZER UNDERSTOOD PAUL’S THEOLOGY

2.1.                  Great Expectations of Redemption

2.2.                  Defining ‘Christ-Mysticism’ or ‘Being-in-Christ’

2.2.1.               As a general concept

2.2.2.               As uniquely Pauline

2.2.3.               As unique to attaining a homogeneous humanity

2.2.4.               As uniquely Jewish in eschatology

2.3.                  The Law

2.4.                  Justification / Righteousness by Faith

2.5.                  The Mystical doctrine of Dying and Rising with Christ

2.5.1.               The ‘Community of God’ Concept

2.5.2.               Dying with Christ Manifested in Suffering

2.5.3.               Being-Risen-With-Christ Manifested in the Possession of the Spirit

2.6.                  Ethics

2.6.1.               Inner Freedom from the World, not Outer Withdrawal

2.6.2.               The Fruit of the Spirit, not that of Repentance

2.6.3.               Love, the highest expression of Christian ethic

2.6.4.               A Self-Consciousness assists Paul and believers in Ethics

CHAPTER 3

DETERMINING SCHWEITZER’S INFLUENCE:

CONVERSATIONS AND VARIATIONS ON THEMES

3.1.                  A Conversation on Paul: his thought-world and theology

3.1.1.               Albert Schweitzer: salient points

3.1.2.               Immediate Opposition: Rudolf Bultmann

3.1.3.               Thy Kingdom Come?

3.1.4.               Paul’s Influences and Battles: Judaic or Hellenistic?

3.1.5.               ‘Controversy is the breath of life’: Debating the ‘Center’

3.1.6.               Schweitzer Revivus  – The Sanders Revolution

3.1.7.               The New Perspective On Paul – A Current Conversation

3.2.                  Pauline themes: detecting Schweitzer’s influence

3.2.1.               Paul’s Thought Judaic or Hellenistic?

3.2.2.               The ‘Centre’ Of Pauline Theology

3.2.3.               Justification By Faith

3.2.4.               Salvation History

3.2.5.               The Overlap Of The Ages

3.2.6.               The Corporeity Of The Church ‘In Christ’

3.2.7.               Our Participation In Christ

3.3.                  Gathering the Thematic Threads of the Conversation in Eschatology

Together for the Church And Mission

3.3.1.               A Summary of our findings

3.3.2.               An Implication for Church and mission

3.3.3.               In Conclusion

CHAPTER 4

THE GROWING SENSE OF UNEASE IN THE UNITED KINGDOM

4.1.                  A Timely Observation

4.2.                  British Church Statistics

4.2.1.               Statistical Sources and Methods

4.2.2.               The statistics

4.3.                  Some Given Reasons for the Decline

CHAPTER 5

THE THEOLOGICAL RESPONSE OF TWO NATIONAL CHURCHES

WITHIN A POST-CHRISTIAN ENVIRONMENT  (CASE STUDIES)

5.1.                  The Church of England

5.1.1.               The Prelude to Change

5.1.1.1.            The Five Marks of Mission

5.1.1.2.            Called to Live and Proclaim the Good News

5.1.2.               The Mandates For Change

5.1.2.1.            The ‘Measure for Measures’ Mandate

5.1.2.2.            The ‘Mission-Shaped Church’ Mandate

5.1.3.               A Theology For Change

5.1.3.1.            The Theology Behind the ‘Measures’ Report

5.1.3.1.1.         A Theology of the Interim

5.1.3.1.2.         The Importance of Ecclesiology

5.1.3.1.3.         One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church

5.1.3.1.4.         Anglicanism

5.1.3.1.5.         Mission and the Changing Church

5.1.3.1.6.         Incarnation and Atonement

5.1.3.2.            The Theology Behind the ‘Mission-Shaped Church’ Report

5.1.3.2.1.         God Speaks Clearly, So Must The Church

5.1.3.2.2.         The Work of Christ as pattern

5.1.3.2.3.         The Spirit of Christ

5.1.3.2.4.         The Church’s Missionary Posture

5.1.3.2.5.         Salvation History and the Missio Dei

5.1.3.2.6.         The Nicene Nature of the Church

5.1.3.3.            The Supporting Theology of the Arch-Bishop of Canterbury

5.1.3.3.1.         Did Jesus start a Church?

5.1.3.3.2.         First Principle of a Missionary Theology: understand the Church

5.1.3.3.3.         What is the Essential Nature of the Church?

5.1.3.3.4.         How do we best Ensure a Continuing Encounter with Jesus?

5.1.3.3.5.         What if it is not particularly Anglican?

5.1.3.3.6.         Second Principle of a Missionary Theology: Be patient

5.1.3.3.7.         How do we Structure a Missional Church?

5.1.3.3.8.         Concluding Concerns

5.2.                  The Church of Scotland (C of S)

5.2.1.               The Mandate from the General Assembly

5.2.2.               The Theology Behind the ‘Church Without Walls’ Report

5.2.2.1.            The Primary Purpose of the Church

5.2.2.2.            The Shape of the Church

CONCLUSION

1.                     An Overall Eschatological orientation

2.                     Mission Belongs to God – The Missio Dei

3.                     Mission Creates and Shapes Church, while Church is Key to Mission

4.                     The Corporate Nature of the Church

5.                     Participation in Christ and His Mission

6.                     Christ as pre-existent Church: A pattern of Church life

7.                     Salvation History and the present Age

8.                     The Church Embodies the Gospel and is a Foretaste of the Kingdom

9.                     Mission is Universal and Restorative

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~ by Colin on August 27, 2010.

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