Telling Stories: Applying Feminist Writing Strategies to "Emerging Church" Theologies

Open Access
Author:
Wyble, Erin Theresa
Graduate Program:
Curriculum and Instruction
Degree:
Doctor of Philosophy
Document Type:
Dissertation
Date of Defense:
October 16, 2006
Committee Members:
  • Dr Marnina Gonick, Committee Chair
  • Patrick Willard Shannon, Committee Member
  • B�n�dicte Monicat, Committee Member
  • Dr Jack Selzer, Committee Member
Keywords:
  • emerging church
  • evangelicalism
  • feminism
  • feminist poststructuralism
Abstract:
In my dissertation, I apply feminist frameworks and feminist writing strategies to an evangelical Protestant phenomenon called the “emerging church.” The “emerging church” arises from a conservative theological background and uses postmodern principles to call into question many of the taken-for-granted truth claims common to evangelicalism. I investigate four concepts generally accepted as critical markers of evangelical subjectivity—worldview permeated with Christ’s stories, belief in spiritual transformation, acceptance of Scriptural authority, and call to witness on Christ’s behalf—and assert that these positions need not be held with absolute certainty or truth to sustain Christian faith. Further, I contend that shifting paradigms from evangelical truth-claims to evangelical faith-stories provides more space for equitable gender relationships, awareness of the mystery of God, and more loving and responsible interactions with non-evangelicals. Attending to the embodied and fragmented qualities that shape our life-stories of faith, I believe, grants us a posture of humility that focuses less on correct doctrine and more on performing life-stories that account for faith and God’s beautify reflected in all humanity’s imago Dei. My work speaks to multiple disciplines but is grounded in three critical convictions: first, that scholarship needs to address epistemologies of faith in serious and respectful ways; second, that gendered-inquiry needs to account for complex and contradictory subject-positions and stories that we live; third, that literacy acts of reading, writing, and interpreting can assist in showing the contingencies, boundaries, and possibilities of discourses and subjects. demonstrate the social and political necessity of grappling with questions of faith, gender, and sexuality through respectful and ethical treatment of believers and non-believers. My dissertation derives from these convictions as I assert that investigating faith-claims matters for the kinds of communities, subjects, and stories we can be, tell, and imagine.