Toward a reformed praxis of Living by the Spirit: practical pneumatology for 21st century Queensland Presbyterians

Lowther, Roland (2013). Toward a reformed praxis of Living by the Spirit: practical pneumatology for 21st century Queensland Presbyterians PhD Thesis, School of History, Philosophy, and Classics, The University of Queensland. doi:10.14264/uql.2016.479

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Author Lowther, Roland
Thesis Title Toward a reformed praxis of Living by the Spirit: practical pneumatology for 21st century Queensland Presbyterians
School, Centre or Institute School of History, Philosophy, and Classics
Institution The University of Queensland
DOI 10.14264/uql.2016.479
Publication date 2013-05-13
Thesis type PhD Thesis
Supervisor Raymond Reddicliffe
Geoff Thompson
Neil Pembroke
Total pages 219
Language eng
Subjects 220401 Christian Studies (incl. Biblical Studies and Church History)
2204 Religion and Religious Studies
Formatted abstract
For Christians, life in the 21st century presents many ethical challenges. Queensland Presbyterians are among those who need an ethical model capable of addressing the challenges of modern life. Presbyterians stand in the Reformed tradition; a tradition that has formally emphasized the role of Old Testament Law as the foundation of ethical life. The 17th century doctrinal standard of the Presbyterian Church, The Westminster Confession of Faith sets forth its position on Christian ethics by appealing to the “binding authority” of the Old Testament Law. However, in the light of the Apostle Paul’s comprehensive emphasis on the Holy Spirit within ethics, this thesis will argue that the Law-orientated model, formally advocated in the Presbyterian doctrinal standards should be reconsidered. For Paul, Christian ethics was not predicated on the “letter” of the Mosaic Law (albeit, empowered by the Spirit), but a new comprehensive understanding of the Spirit. Using Paul’s concept of “Living by the Spirit” as a point of departure, this thesis seeks to move towards the development of a practical pneumatology that will provide Reformed/Presbyterian Christians with a theological framework for understanding ethical life within this new modality of the Spirit.

Whilst challenging some formal beliefs, the proposed practical pneumatology respectfully seeks to uphold The Westminster Confession’s position on the authoritative primacy of Scripture. After establishing the foundational role of the Spirit in epistemology, the thesis develops a model which argues that the Holy Spirit enables Christians to interpret truth though multiple media: personal spirituality, corporate church life, Scripture interpretation and life in the world. Moreover, the model constructed, also argues for a dynamic integration of these Spirit “media”; an integration that is necessary to account for a realistic understanding of “Living by the Spirit” as it relates to ethics. Being more than a purely theoretical project, this thesis draws on the “broad spectrum” discipline of Practical Theology. As such, the thesis methodology moves in a practice-theory-practice orientation. Following a description of the factors that have influenced the Queensland Presbyterian view of the Holy Spirit, a reappraisal of Letter/Spirit relationship will be considered by reflecting on Paul’s ethical perspective in Romans. From this point a model of ‘Living by the Spirit” is developed and then subjected to empirical testing via case studies among selected Queensland Presbyterians. An analysis of the data will provide insights into the usefulness of this model for the ethical lives of Queensland Presbyterians, and its value for ongoing theological reflection in the Reformed tradition.
Keyword Presbyterian

Document type: Thesis
Collections: UQ Theses (RHD) - Official
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Created: Thu, 11 Apr 2013, 20:11:27 EST by Roland Lowther on behalf of Learning and Research Services (UQ Library)