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Durham e-Theses
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The Participative Self: An Enquiry into the merits and limits of a Theological and Postmodern Anthropology

FANCOURT, GRAEME (2010) The Participative Self: An Enquiry into the merits and limits of a Theological and Postmodern Anthropology. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

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This project began with a concern that research into Emerging Church and Fresh Expressions groups had too great a focus upon ecclesiology and missiology. Not only did this approach miss a great deal of what the groups were attempting to do, but it also resulted either in sycophantic or scathing caricatures of the participant groups. This thesis argues, however, that through their practises these groups are exploring a much broader and deeper question that is also active within academic literature: the extent to which postmodern and theological discourses can be considered to be appropriate dialogue partners. This research analyses this question in both the practical and theoretical contexts, beginning with an engagement with prominent approaches within philosophical and theological literature. In addition to this, four leaders of ecclesial groups who claim to be engaged with postmodern culture are interviewed, and a grounded theory analysis carried out upon the transcripts. Anthropology emerges from both practical and theoretical streams of enquiry as an important way of speaking of the possibility of postmodern and theological dialogue. The analyses from both contexts are then brought together, questioning whether a coherent and suitably rigorous anthropology can emerge from postmodern and theological dialogue. It is argued that ‘the participative self’ is just such a concept, emerging from a dialogue between constructivist-Lyotardian postmodernism and open-narrative theology. This suggests that postmodern and theological discourses, when carefully defined, are both suitable and important discourses to hold in dialogue. Furthermore, the method of bringing together practical and theoretical resources demonstrates two final points. First, that Fresh Expressions and Emerging Church groups should not be patronised as ecclesial novelties, but rather groups who offer a serious consideration of theological discourse in its socio-cultural context. Second, that holding practical and theoretical resources in conversation is vital to the development of theology.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Theology and Ministry
Keywords:"postmodernism";"postmodernity";"theology";"practical theology";"anthropology";"selfhood";"personhood";"Lyotard";"David Tracy";"John Milbank";"Stanley Hauerwas";"NT Wright";"narrative";"Fresh Expressions";"Emerging church"
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Theology and Religion, Department of
Thesis Date:2010
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:12 May 2011 13:31

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