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Durham e-Theses
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Spiritual Borrowing: Appropriation and Reinterpretation of Christian Mystic Practices in Three Emergent Churches

WIGNER, DANIEL,EVERETT (2015) Spiritual Borrowing: Appropriation and Reinterpretation of Christian Mystic Practices in Three Emergent Churches. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

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This thesis investigates the process of spiritual borrowing between the emergent church (EC) and the Christian mystical tradition. From its inception, the EC has displayed interest in mystic practices, but the exact nature of this interest or how these practices are appropriated and reinterpreted in the EC context has not been researched. My research shows that the emergent church is appropriating Christian mystic practices by investing these practices with their own theological content. After introduction to areas of inquiry and the historical development of the EC in the USA, I proceed to prove my point through literary and empirical strategies. Close scrutiny of EC literature shows a lack of connection with historical provenance of mystic practices. Rather than a historical connection, mystic practices are viewed as neutral containers which can be invested with a great range of theological content. Consequently, EC authors tie the appropriation of practices to the theological content which they are also investing into the practices. Several theological values, or ‘anchors’, are evident as primary investments in EC literature. Empirical research through phenomenological case studies displays less of a tidy relationship than the literature portrays. Principally, spiritual borrowing of mystic practices is tied to a high theological value on experimentation with lesser value tied to other anchors. The practices themselves are changed to fit in their new context with new theology, showing that EC belief shapes EC behavior. My study contributes notably to the sociological examination of the process of spiritual borrowing, especially through close inspection of how a spiritual practice changes to fit a new theological context. Additionally, my thesis contributes to the study of the complex relationship between belief and behavior.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:mystical, mystic practice, contemplation, Christianity, Emergent Church, spirituality, spiritual borrowing, religious borrowing
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Theology and Religion, Department of
Thesis Date:2015
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:06 Jan 2015 15:01

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