Date of Award
Master of Arts in Reconciliation and Intercultural Studies (MA-RIS)
First Advisor/Committee Member
Brenda Salter McNeill, D.Min., Associate Professor of Reconciliation Studies
Bible. Amos, V, 21-24; Church work with the marginalized; Contemporary Christian music; Evangelicalism—United States; Freedom—Religious aspects—Christianity; Individualism—Religious aspects—Evangelicalism; Liberation theology; Liturgy—Political aspects; Liturgy—Social aspects; Marginality, Social—Religious aspects—Christianity; Nationalism—Religious aspects—Evangelicalism; Reconciliation—Religious aspects—Christianity; Sacred music—Evangelicalism; Social justice—Religious aspects—Christianity; Solidarity—Religious aspects—Christianity; Worship
In the Evangelical church, there is a disparity between the worship of the church and a lack of care for the marginalized and oppressed in American society. Though their worship proclaims freedom, chains being broken, and captives set free, the church does little to advocate for the actual poor and disenfranchised. Because of these and other reasons, the American evangelical church has come to resemble something other than both its heritage and the Body of Christ described in Scripture. Instead, it has become a cloistered, segregated, echo chamber for those who agree on orthodoxy to retreat into and sense the warmth of their own beliefs reflected back to them in comfort and security. These disparities can be acutely examined through the worship and liturgy of the church, which forms Evangelicals into individualistic worshipers focused on spiritual renewal over partnering with the Missio Dei in the world.
Importantly, the prophet Amos declares that God “hates” and “despises” the worship of the people of Israel because they do not seek the justice of the disenfranchised (Amos 5:21). This project posits that part of repairing this disparity and engaging the white Evangelical church in caring for the marginalized is found in reconciliation theology. Embodiment of worship that is pleasing to God, that which upholds God’s justice and righteousness, requires embodying God’s spiritual process of reconciliation. If the white Evangelical church desires to engage more fully in God’s mission to reconcile all of creation to one another and Godself, then it must reshape its worship to form its people into agents of reconciliation who embody worship in ways that lead to God’s just and righteous Kingdom in society.
Therefore, this research will offer a theological framework of worship for the white Evangelical church, by which it may see its historical and current complicity with injustice in American society and participate in the spiritual process of reconciliation mandated in Scripture that justice may truly “roll down like water and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream” (Amos 5:24). To accomplish this, this project will seek to answer the question: How can worship be used to help evangelical churches in America recognize and repent from their complicity with injustice in society and advocate for reconciliation in their local communities?
Harmon, Kyle Joseph, "Chains Shall He Break: A Vision for Reconciling Worship" (2023). Seattle Pacific Seminary Projects. 17.
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