Sewanee: School of Theology Theses 2018


Recent Submissions

Now showing 1 - 5 of 6
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    Preaching Baptism Year Round
    (University of tthe South, 2018-04) Shumard, James Bradley
    This paper both advocates and provides impetus and resources for preaching Baptism and The Baptismal Covenant throughout the year. People need to hear sermons on baptisms more often than when baptisms occur because first of all most Episcopal Churches are so small they do not have many baptisms and secondly, our service of Holy Baptism conveys far more meanings for baptism than can be covered in one or four sermons or one class. There is also a significant diversity of theological understandings of Baptism (See chapter on “Theologies of Baptism.”) which reinforces the need to cover many bases over many Sundays, seasons and years. Preaching Baptism on Easter, Pentecost, All Saints and The Baptism of Our Lord are BCP appropriate Sundays can cover much of those bases and sermons for those Sundays are included. Preaching on Baptism more often will also enhance the people’s understanding of the importance of baptism and its meanings. Resources such as the sample sermons, theologies of baptism and suggested times and seasons and reasons for preaching Baptism are provided.
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    Music as a Tool for Spiritual Formation
    (University of the South, 2018-04) Keyse, Andrew Carl
    This project is about music and, specifically, how singing music in the Episcopal Church can be a tool for spiritual formation. I set out to see if others had been formed by music in the church in the same way I had been formed. I looked at both psychological and pedagogical aspects of music on childhood development to show how music helps us learn any subject, but particularly learn scripture and theology. I interviewed seven people connected to music and the church to see what impact music has had on them and how they use it as a tool for spiritual formation. I surveyed clergy to see if music was important to them in their own parishes and how they view it as a tool for formation. I found that those I interviewed agreed with music being a tool for spiritual formation. It was fascinating to hear examples in their own ministries of how they had experienced this and, also, how they taught it to their choirs or parishes. The results of the surveys were mostly positive about the importance of music both to those in the choir and to the congregation. Some negative results showed that not everyone views music in the same way. I came to the overall conclusion that I was not alone in my experience, and that many of us who have been formed by music in the church see it as a tool for spiritual formation. I also concluded that I now have the tools and resources to start a music program in a parish should one not exist, so that others may continue to be formed.
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    For all the Saints: The Funeral Homily as Revelation of God Embodied
    (University of the South, 2018-04) Brown, Nathan C.
    The following project aims to address a prevailing homiletical problem in funeral preaching today. The endeavor of funeral preaching is practiced most commonly in one of two ways. The funeral sermon is completely doctrinal, articulating an eschatology only accounting for that which happens after death, devaluing the life lived. Conversely, the funeral sermon is predominantly biographical, speaking only of the deceased’s life, without any eschatological—and very little theological—reflection. Therefore, this paper explores the cultural, historical, and theological influences which have led to these practices. While there are many factors which have had an impact on the funeral and funeral preaching over the last 100 years, it is the Church itself, most notably well-intended clergy, who have had the greatest influence. In the midst of a great deal of cultural change, clergy have allowed the funeral ritual and, subsequently, the funeral homily to morph into what is experienced today. Building on Thomas Long’s recent work, Accompany Them With Singing: The Christian Funeral, which encourages the Church to reclaim the funeral service as worship, this project seeks to move the church toward a corrective in funeral preaching, reclaiming the funeral homily as proclamation of God’s Word. Using the Anglo-Catholic tradition of feast days for saints as a model, I argue that for Protestants, who claim all people are made in the image of God, every funeral is an occasion to reflect on the life of a saint. By doing so, the saint’s life becomes primary for the preaching occasion, while scripture plays a secondary role, interpreting that life. The sermon, then, is not an obituary or eulogy; nor is it a means of converting others to Christian faith. Instead, the funeral sermon becomes a reflection on the ways in which God is revealed through the life and death of the individual being remembered. Such an approach is more balanced, integrating both the theological and biographical, which can reveal the many and varied ways in which God is embodied in humanity. The conclusion of the project includes four sermons, with commentary, which serve as examples for the homiletical model this project proposes. Each sermon provides one possible approach, given the particular circumstances of the person’s life and death. An effort is made at offering a variety of sermons given the diversity of life and the varied circumstances surrounding death. My hope is that this project is a continuation of those efforts being made to place value back on the rituals and traditions of the Church, which are increasingly being devalued as the Church declines. Specifically, it attempts to be part of the ongoing conversation regarding the significance of the role of the Church at a time of death and its potential to facilitate healing in the midst of loss and brokenness.
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    Deification as an Argument for the Consubstantiality of the Son with the Father in the Writings of Athanasius of Alexandria
    (University of the South, 2018-04) Stepp, Jonathan Leon
    Athanasius of Alexandria defended the innovative “homoousion” language in the Nicene Creed by means of his understanding of deification as God’s telos for humanity and twenty-first century theology in the United States should follow Athanasius’ approach and give greater emphasis to deification. There are three background issues to the thesis: Alexandrian theology as exemplified by Origen (Origen and Athanasius both emphasized the importance of God as Father, but disagreed about the use of the words “homoousios” and “hypostasis”), the influence of Irenaeus on Athanasius, and Athanasius’ exegetical technique. Deification is both central and assumed for Athanasius. Athanasius argued for the Son’s status as Son and God “by nature” in part by using the idea of our adoption and deification as God’s soteriological goal in the Son. His argument can be summarized as follows: adoption and deification was God’s teleology for humanity and since that is true it must follow that, for this goal to be achieved, the Son must be Son and God “by nature.” His argument for the Son’s consubstantiality is an exegetical project driven by the theology of deification. The best way to define the gospel message and better appreciate the significance and value of the language of the Nicene Creed is by following the pattern established by Athanasius and using deification as an assumption for the construction of our own theology. An Athanasian understanding of the gospel allows us to move beyond theological dead ends, while at the same time rooting us firmly in the fullness of the Christian tradition of the last two millennia.
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    Epistemology and Authority: The Problem of the Criterion and the Primacy of Scripture
    (University of the South, 2018-04) Caccese, Nicholas Michael
    Determining the ultimate authority for Christian doctrine is both an issue of fundamental importance and can be seen as a particular manifestation, in the field of theological inquiry, of a more general epistemological problem, namely the problem of the criterion. After articulating this philosophical problem in theological terms, the main candidates for sources of authority in matters of doctrine – Scripture, tradition, reason, and experience – will be examined. Some major problems associated with taking any of the latter three as the ultimate source of authority will then be discussed, noting especially their inability to provide an adequate solution to the problem of the criterion. It will then be seen that Scripture fares better through a discussion of the notions of inspiration and self-authentication and their relationship to the internal witness of the Holy Spirit, drawing especially on contemporary work in theology and religious epistemology. The paper will close with a brief and selective look at some proponents of the primacy of Scripture from within the Anglican tradition. This paper will argue that Scripture is uniquely suited to act as a final authority for Christian theology in that, through the work of the Spirit, it brings its own evidence with it, avoids the serious philosophical and theological problems that result from taking another source as final, and fits seamlessly within the larger theological framework of God’s self-revelation in the economy of salvation. As such, it is my contention that Scripture should be regarded as the ultimate source of authority for Christian doctrine.