One of the fundamental expectations in the New Testament is that every Christian will become more and more like Jesus Christ. This transformation is characterized by a growing capacity to love as the believer takes on the character of Christ. This change process is life-long, is referred to as progressive sanctification, and is the essence of discipleship. However, research indicates that many believers living in North America are not experiencing a high degree of personal transformation into the image of Christ. Despite trying harder and utilizing the plethora of good discipleship material that is available, change for many believers is largely unrealized. This is a problem that some refer to as the “sanctification gap.”
This project addresses the sanctification gap by identifying unresolved emotional pain as a barrier to Christ-like transformation. Specific to this project is a six-week curriculum for discipleship that addresses both the spiritual and emotional aspects essential for spiritual growth. Emotion is powerful and influences thought and behavior. Unresolved emotional pain often promotes distorted thoughts and feelings of shame and fear that in turn influence sinful behavior as a means to cope with or numb the pain. Sadly, this sinful behavior hinders the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit and consequently creates the sanctification gap. Therefore, to understand how emotion and thought work together to influence behavior will assist the believer in his or her discipleship to Jesus.
The curriculum for this project was pilot-tested with a group of male and female adult participants living in Orange County, California. The Emotionally Healthy Spirituality Personal Assessment by Peter Scazzero and Warren Bird was administered before and after this six-week program and revealed that participants experienced discernible growth in the areas of spiritual and emotional maturity that helped them bridge the sanctification gap.
|Advisor:||Wilkins, Michael J.|
|Commitee:||Seymour, D. Bruce|
|Department:||Talbot School of Theolgy|
|School Location:||United States -- California|
|Source:||DAI-A 78/04(E), Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Religion, Clinical psychology|
|Keywords:||Discipleship, Integration, Neuroscience, Psychology, Sanctification, Spiritual formation|
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