These students have completed departmental honors through rigorous research on various topics in the disciplines of biblical studies, Christian ministries, or theology. Their theses may be found in the Jenks Library and in the Biblical Studies and Christian Ministries Department office suite in MacDonald Hall.
Foundations of Biblical Justice: God's Holistic Ethic for Life in Community
Abstract: This paper seeks to understand justice in the Pentateuch. The lack of integrative biblical scholarship and clarity necessitated drawing together formerly disparate areas of study to take a new look at how Scripture presents justice. Our exploration utilized legal, socio-contextual, ethical, narrative, and covenantal approaches to identify justice as an extension of God’s holy character, derived from His covenants with Israel, and holistic in its permeation through Israel’s social structures, groups, and laws. Justice is the overarching ethic that guides and regulates relationship among people and is understood and pursued according to the rubric of prescriptive, proscriptive, punitive, instructive, illustrative, and imaginative.
A Faith that Performs or a Faith that relates?
Abstract: This article describes the need for Christian churches and youth ministries to teach rising generations to recognize and respond to God’s presence. After examining the current narrative taught to young people about who God is and how God interacts with them, Moses serves as a model for recognizing and responding to God. A vision of community emerges and a new leadership is proposed, such that young people can recognize and respond to God’s presence with one another.
An Exploratory Scramble up the Tree of Life in the Prophets
Abstract: The tree of life looms large at the bookends of the biblical narrative, introduced in the opening chapters of Genesis and resurfacing in the last chapters of Revelation. However, this substantial symbol (both biblically and in the wider ancient Near Eastern milieu in which Israel belonged) is conspicuously absent after Eden from nearly all the Old Testament. Nevertheless, the arboreal imagery employed by some of the writing prophets in the context of messianic expectation provides an avenue for exploring subtle connections to the tree of life in an unconventional place.
God’s not an Eagles’ Fan: A Holistic Understanding of the Christian Faith in Sport
Abstract: Inspired by participation in varsity athletics at Gordon College and through research, this paper evaluates the current emphasis for Christian athletes to use their faith to evangelize through the Practical Theology method. Does this simplify the correlation between faith and athletics? Could it even tend toward commodifying individuals? Through the lens of sociology and using the works of the Desert Fathers in their ascetic lifestyles, this research will show the emphasis of discipleship in spiritual formation to argue that discipleship is also vital to the lives of Christian athletes.
After Modesty Culture: Living into the Hope of Our Redeemed Bodies
Abstract: Using the Practical Theology methodology, this paper examines Christian modesty culture and the accompanying narrative taught to teenagers about who they are and who they are becoming. Through engaging with Pauline new creation themes, Beth Felker Jones’ description of bodily resurrection, and John Zizioulas’ interpretation of “sacramental beings,” a new theology of embodiment is proposed, such that young people gain a greater understanding of the essential goodness of their own bodies and how to relate to the bodies of others.
The Role of the Woman Pastor in the Contemporary Church
Abstract: This paper examines what the role of the woman pastor is in the contemporary church. Operating under the assumption that women can be pastors, this research explores the past and present experiences of women in pastoral positions to imagine future roles. This study was conducted using the Practical Theology method. Interviewing women in ministry in evangelical churches across the United States led to a deeper understanding of what ministry in practice looks like for women. Further, exploring women’s place in business leadership through studying organizational behavior and the stories of women in leadership outside of ministry broadened this exploration of women’s experiences.
Bridging the Catholic Protestant Divide
Abstract: The Reformation Era created a deep divide between Catholics and Protestants that reverberates among us centuries later. In my ways, this division largely comes from misunderstanding, which breeds fear and discord, making unity appear impossible. This curriculum is written for Gordon College’s Protestant student body. It is assumed that those participating do not have a significant knowledge of Catholicism as a faithful expression of the Christian faith. The curriculum's shared praxis approach, utilizes a generative theme with a focusing activity and five movements. This structure intends to begin with a person’s present understanding, provide new information, and enable participants to appropriate the material for lived Christian faith.
Equine Facilitated Christian Learning for At-Risk Adolescents
Abstract: The developing field of equine assisted activities and therapies, including equine facilitated learning, has much to offer the field of religious education. Equine facilitated learning is already being used in classrooms through curricula such as Cowboy Poetry and Marvelous Minis developed by Strides to Success. While further research needs to be done on equine-assisted activities in order to have quantitative measures of success as a result of these programs, the qualitative evidence suggests that these programs do change the lives of the adolescents involved in them.
Assessing the Spiritual Formation Factors That Have Been Most Effectual in the Sanctification and Renovation Process of Adolescents in New England
Abstract: This research study is a qualitative and quantitative approach to discover which spiritual formation factors are most effective in the sanctification process of adolescents in New England. The study focuses on which practices (spiritual disciplines), experiences (camps, conferences, etc.) and relationships have the greatest impact for transforming students into life-long followers of Jesus. The goal of this research is to analyze what is most effective in nurturing the spiritual growth of students as well as to make recommendations for changes in the way we approach spiritual formation in youth ministry.
Christian Formation Examined: Christian Education within the Contemporary Church
Abstract: Christian education must be concerned with the formation of Christ-like character within individuals of all ages. It is evident, throughout scripture, that God's will for his people is to be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ. Similarly, the mission of Christian education within the church must seek to mature people in the process of salvation. Presupposing that salvation is a process, Christian education must be concerned with a two-fold task: evangelizing the unjustified and disciplining the believer.
Youth, Sex, and Family Life
Abstract: In light of the nature of the father/daughter relationship, the goal of this study is to discover if there is a positive correlation between the impact a father has on his daughter, and her self-esteem and level of physical/sexual intimacy she attains in relationships with men. The study surveyed students ages 11–22 at Christian colleges and churches in New England and California. Personal interviews were also conducted as a follow-up to the surveys.