Global Perspectives in Doctoral Research: Showcase of Recent PhD Theses Across Disciplines

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We are delighted to present recently completed PhD theses that showcase not only the breadth of academic inquiry but also the depth of research across various disciplines. These theses, ranging from theological studies in Nigeria, educational dynamics in South Sudan, local theology in Italy, to interfaith relations in Kenya, and more, reflect a mosaic of cultural, religious, and social perspectives. Each thesis is a testament to the rigorous scholarship and dedication of the researchers who have delved into complex and often under-explored topics, offering fresh insights and contributing significantly to their respective fields. This collection is a celebration of academic diversity and a tribute to the relentless pursuit of knowledge here at OCMS.

Emmanuel Ndikumana

‘Transforming Destructive Ethnic Violence: An Exploration of the Role of Forgiveness in Political Reconciliation in Burundi’

Using Burundi as a context where Hutus and Tutsis have experienced repetitive ethnic violence of genocidal proportions, the thesis considers how forgiveness meets the demands of justice and ends the cycle of violence by enhancing the process of political reconciliation. After locating the ethnic violence between Hutus and Tutsis in its historical context, the thesis considers how survivors remember and analyses the meaning they give to their experience. The thesis concludes by demonstrating why and under what conditions forgiveness is necessary to restore the dignity of both the survivors and perpetrators and to promote reconciliation. To place these findings from Burundi in wider context, the similarities and (importantly) the differences from other post-conflict societies are considered to inform what unique contributions are made by this analysis.

Alfred Cooper

‘‘‘A Gem in the Water”: A Contribution to Contemporary Pentecostal Theology on Baptism of the Holy Spirit from a study of Willis Hoover’s Chilean Methodist Pentecostalism’

Alfred defines and categorises the theology of Willis Hoover, with particular emphasis on his understanding of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit and his theological transition from sanctification Methodism, through an Azusa style Pentecostalism, to his eventual Methodist Pentecostal position. He offers a solution to the problems related to Hoover’s subsequentialist Pentecostal teaching and formulates a pneumatological theory of ‘Pneuma plasticity’.

Read more about the scholar and his work here.

Wondimu Abebe Kediso

‘‘Curriculum for Ministerial Education: A Critical Appraisal of the Curriculum of Amharic Bible Schools of the Ethiopian Kale Heywet Church (EKHC)’

In this thesis Wondimu explores selected theories of curriculum development and investigates how these assumptions influenced the way curriculum and education was perceived and managed in the Ethiopian Kale Heywet Church Bible schools. His findings suggest that the curricular thinking of the West (European and American) and East (Russian) has heavily influenced the Ethiopian education system since the outset of the 20th century. As products of the work of SIM missionaries and institutions subject to the impact of the national education system, this study indicates that EKHC’s Bible Schools’ curriculum is not free from foreign influence. It also shows that curricular initiatives are hugely hampered by an over-emphasis on the top-down approach, failure to maintain a sense of ownership, and a lack of teachers’ empowerment and involvement in the formation and implementation of the curriculum. Consequently, the curriculum under consideration could not integrally address the needs of students and the church. On the positive side, the thesis proposes a new approach – the integral development theory as the best model to fill the gap and facilitate the provision of theological education holistically.

Kunle O. Ogunkolati

Mobilization of Lay Persons for Christian Mission: A Case Study of Selected Pentecostal Churches in Southwest Nigeria’ 

The thesis shows how the clergy and lay persons transmit and proclaim the gospel in specific and diverse ways using a multi-faceted strategy and a polycentric mission model. The thesis distinguishes theology as Spirit-engagement rather than intellectual-engagement through lay Pentecostal mission articulation from Christo-pneumato centric and sodality-modality orientations. It shows that the understanding of mission theology underpinning praxis recognizes lay persons’ uniqueness and strategic position for advancing mission in Southwest Nigeria.

Lubari Stephen Elioba

‘The role of parents and community in the education of their children in Episcopal Church schools in Yei County in the context of a “post-independent conflict” South Sudan (2011-2022) with an emphasis on the issues of role, context, and policy’

The study shows through an analysis of observations, qualitative interviews, thick description and use of documents that the role of parents has emerged as critical, but it is a role not given formal recognition. Modernization theories and a bottom-up approach in this research reveals that the support of parents, from 1980s to date, holds the parents and communities together and enables the education system to function under significantly reduced government spending. The Episcopal Church is highlighted as a significant driver for building local democracy and decentralisation. In the ‘post-independent conflict’ context both ‘bottom-up’ and ‘top-down’ approaches are needed with significant space for parents and local communities (especially churches) and not just national (government) and international ownership/partnerships.

Melissa Baccarella

‘Italians Doing Local Theology: A Multisite Empirical Inquiry in Piedmont Towns with Special Reference to Antonio Gramsci’

It is a multisite empirical inquiry in two distinct phases of fieldwork with 64 contributors in nine Piedmont towns. The study concludes that local theologies are the products of deliberate (even methodical) guided and co-responsible processes of doing theology. A body of Christians, often native to where they reside and implement their theological insights, articulates them. Doing Local Theology (DLT) is a tool available to ecclesial groups who want to learn the art of theological discussion and pursue reciprocity between their leaders and laypersons. Though not a cure-all, it shows, DLT can stimulate ecclesial groups to renew their minds, metabolize the Gospel, and acquire shared clarity on vital everyday issues pertinent to their Christian witness.

John Perminus Wega

‘Conflict and Cohesion: The practice of giciaro and its significance to the Christian-Muslim relations in Igembe, Meru County, Kenya’

The author argues that Giciaro (ritual rebirth) is key to understanding intra- and inter-ethnic relations in Igembe. In context where researches on interfaith relations have been dominated by textual, theological, philosophical, and historical approaches, this study involves data from participant observations, 246 interviews, and focus groups to generate qualitative data supplemented with sources obtained from archives and backed up with sound theory. It concludes that Giciaro can help Christians and Muslims to interact, enjoy their dialogue of life, and in case of misunderstanding use it to as a traditional ‘philosophy’ for managing conflicts.

Lynette Shu Yin Teagle

‘Community, Word and Wonder: Discerning Key Elements in the Faith Inquiry of Chinese International Students’

Contributing to the field of Practical Theology, Lynette’s study revealed the wider motivating factors behind Chinese students’ involvement in Christian activities organised by multi-ethnic British churches, beyond socio-cultural and linguistic interests. It showed that within the faith inquiry process, students’ emerging beliefs were shaped by participation in Christian community groups, study of Bible texts, and numinous experiences. It also showed that Chinese students are active agents in a process of theological construction, which has hitherto remained under-examined. Beyond socio-cultural motivations, their nascent theologising – including conversion, for some – leads to clarity of inhabited Christian beliefs, despite internal dissonance and expectations of interpersonal conflict.

Stephen W Steddom

‘Giving Alone: Towards an Understanding of the Practices and Motivations of American Evangelical Millennial Philanthropy’

Stephen’s findings identify three major motivational factors (proximity to need, community of practice, active accountability) that contribute to the development of a moral reasoning framework leading to a moral imagination critical for sustained charitable financial giving. However, the majority of the millennial research subjects displayed proclivity toward privatization, resulting in a physical and emotional distance from social need, and a belief structure disconnected from behaviour. The conclusions from this study suggest that Evangelical Millennials may lack the ability and disposition for making choices or exercising practical moral judgement in line with proximate and ultimate ends. This research points to several areas for further scholarly reflection, especially within a broader set of faith traditions. Local congregations and faith-based non-profits will benefit from a richer understanding and connection to Evangelical Millennials, thereby increasing the level of stewardship and informed generosity, potentially making a global difference for the Church and the common good.

David Ro

‘An Emerging Missions Movement in Urban China: From the Perspective of Four Beijing Pastors’

David examines here the characteristics, factors, and trajectory of a new missions phenomenon in the unregistered house churches of urban China called Missions China (originally Mission China 2030). Several distinct missiological concepts emerge from the four pastors including the ‘Cross Missiology,’ the Back to Jerusalem movement, a ‘City on a Hill’, the Recovery of the Great Commission, and unity with Global Evangelicalism through the Lausanne Movement. Besides focus on China, this work’s broader relevance is evident in the adoption of the Missionisation Cycle developed by Las Ekström, Andrew Walls’ translatability principle and Paul Hiebert’s notion of ‘self- theologising’.

Elisama Daniel

‘Combatting Grand Corruption alongside State-Building: The Role of the South Sudan Anti-Corruption Commission and the Episcopal Church of South Sudan in Defence of the Common Good’

In this thesis, Elisama investigates ‘grand corruption,’ a critical phenomenon as the country undergoes nation-building. It involves different actors and institutions both in the interim and post-independent South Sudan. Two institutions tasked with holding the government to account are especially examined as cases: the South Sudan Anti-Corruption Commission (SSACC), a state actor, and the Episcopal Church of South Sudan (ECSS), a non-state actor. The outcomes of this examination are thus applicable to both the state and the church in South Sudan and may be extrapolated more widely.

David Lin

‘Missionary-Self and Mission Others: The Identity of Chinese Missionaries from a Trinitarian Perspective’

This thesis explores the key factors in Chinese missionaries’ identity construction as they engaged in cross-cultural missions and uses Trinitarian traits to respond to identity construction among Chinese missionaries. The thesis shows that social class and a Han-centric ethnocentrism, which led to nationalism, influenced Chinese missionary identity. In the religious sphere, there was a strong emphasis on suffering for the gospel, their conservative theology focused on following tradition, and Pentecostalism explained conflicts as due to power encounters. The thesis ends by presenting ‘Tridentity’ as a new paradigm in the expectation that it will enable future Chinese Missionaries to overcome identity challenges in cross-cultural service.

Matthew Reifsnider

‘Integration and Minority Fiqh: The Ḥalāl to Ḥarām Ratio’

Minority Fiqh, (fiqh al-‘aqalliyyāt), has been theorised by Taha Jabir al-Alwani to assist minority Muslims, particularly in a Western setting, to be able to integrate in society, as in the maxim, “integration without assimilation.” This thesis examines how a selection of Muslims in America interprets and practices Islamic jurisprudence and whether there are similarities to the theoretical fiqh al-aqalliyat. It highlights the purposes (maqāṣid al-sharī‘ah) of such interpretations as these directly relate to the interpreters and their integration in the wider community.

Mehri Zarifikolyane

‘Toward a Contemplative Cyberspace: Contemplation, Social Media and Peace-building: A Co-operative Inquiry’

The question she sought to address was: how sharing the effects of contemplation changes the formation of new networks in peacebuilding. The study combined a transdisciplinary approach with action research. It started with a first-person inquiry into inner peace through contemplation, expanding it to include wider participation of net users. The study showed that sharing the effect of contemplation results in the formation of networks that could play a crucial role in peacebuilding.

Sosthene Jean-De-Dieu Maletoungou

‘Schooling as a Field of Practice: exploring teacher pedagogy and student learning in private secondary classrooms in the Republic of Guinea’

The thesis examined classroom interactional practices through adopting a sociocultural perspective and drawing from the theories of Bourdieu and Bernstein. The data was collected from sixty-one participants in three secondary schools and two teacher’s colleges in the regions of Labe and Conakry. The results build upon the work of Bierschenk in ‘State at work in West Africa,’ and suggest that teachers act more as interface pedagogical agents in negotiating with the pressure of multiple tensions inherent to their practices. It shows that teachers could be better partners in closing the gap for successful LCE pedagogical experiences if trained and empowered as interface pedagogical agents in light of the field’s realities. The wider implications of these findings include certain conditions for the applicability of Bernstein’s concept of competence pedagogy in Guinea and similar contexts, and the international policy imperative of learner-centred education.

Kyle Wisdom

‘State, Religion, and the Public Good: An Examination of Nurcholish Madjid in Constructing Civil Religious Pluralism as Political Philosophy’

His thesis addresses the chronic tension between religion and the state by constructing a dialogue between the writings of Nurcholish Madjid and classical political theorists. Framed around the development of the modern nation-state, civil religious pluralism is presented as an important contribution to political philosophy. It proposes that Madjid’s understanding of the religious self, the religious moral order as a part of multiple modernities, and the religious pluralism made possible by civil society can support a strong and just state. In this way, public religious goods can inform the articulation of political goods, which in turn informs the state’s administration of justice.

 

Eric Tuls

‘Ethno-nationalism of the Ahiska (Meskhetian) Turks: A diaspora perspective of their response to change in multiple locations, with a particular emphasis on Turkey’

This thesis addresses Ahiska Turks’ current situation with particular emphasis on their relationship with Turkey and draws on Anthony D. Smith’s cultural approach to nationalism (Smith 2010) to help understand how their ‘Turkish nationalist’ expression is displayed and fits in the wider study of nationalism. The conclusions reveal how their oral ethno-history both maintains their Turkishness held and protected in the Soviet period, while also beginning to integrate itself into official Turkish nationalist narratives. Their ‘homeland’, ‘Ahiska’, continues to be central to group solidarity, but the group also stresses Ahiska’s Ottoman (Turkish) roots in order to integrate with the ‘imagined’ homeland of Turkey.  

 

Usha Reifsnider

‘Reclaiming British Gujarati Hindu Culture after Conversion to Evangelical Christianity’

The thesis explores how multidimensional social spaces and multiple identities are used to navigate relational networks and contribute to the adaptation of transcultural practices. It provides a unique exploration and understanding of the impact of Christian conversion on the British Gujarati diaspora. It also explores the complication of self-identity and the problems incurred through the imposed binaries of identifications by others. By investigating the idea of multiple identities, the thesis unmutes British Gujarati converts’ experiences of family roles, places of belonging and decision making.

 

Worku Mohammed

‘”Travellers in Faith”or “Stealthy Legions”?: The Gurāgē role in the rise of Tablīghī Jamā‘at in Ethiopia’

Worku Mohammed has been awarded PhD for his ethnographic research which deals with the Tablīghī Jamā‘at, an Islamic preaching movement in Ethiopia. The thesis generated primary sources through live participant observation, oral history, interviews, and country visits, including India where it began. The thesis shows that even though it is a transnational movement, Tablīghī Jamā‘at in Ethiopia manifests local identity and also maintains global connections.

 

Kathleen Marie Holley

‘Christian Contemplative Prayer (CCP): A Grounded Theory Exploration of Well-Being and Embodiment within Christian Spirituality’

Her thesis examines the lived experience of long-term CCP practitioners, within their prayer practice. Drawing on participant semi-structured interview data, it utilizes a grounded theory methodology to generate a conceptual framework that integrates CCP practice, well-being, and embodiment. This framework suggests an integrated aspect of embodiment within this prayer practice related to: Embodied Self, Embodied in Christian Community, Embodied Space, and Embodied in God. The findings emerged with greater understanding of the diversity found within the actual practice of silent, embodied CCP. Each of these aspects help to develop a substantive grounded theory integrating CCP practice, well-being and embodiment in the lived experience of long-term CCP practitioners.

 

Stavan Narendra John

‘The Risen and Ascended Humanity of Christ in Thomas F. Torrance’s Holistic Christology’

This thesis examines Thomas F. Torrance’s theology of the ascension. It demonstrates that Torrance developed it holistically by taking into account the ontology, spatiality, and present ministry of the ascended Jesus. It concludes that Torrance has propelled the discussion on the ontology, spatiality, and present ministry of the ascended Christ away from generic affirmations to specific declarations; namely (1) Jesus’s ascended humanity has an ontology that is a composite of body-soul, gender, and ethnicity, and he lives an immortal life in creaturely dependence upon God; (2) Jesus’s ascended humanity has a spatiality that is defined by a duality, which is a corporeal, human existence as well as a ubiquitous divine existence that cannot be defined by human characteristics; and (3) Jesus in his ascended humanity has a present ministry that is active, dynamic, and one that will last into eternity, even when sin and evil have been dealt with.

 

Michio Ogino

‘A Study of Kierkegaard as a Missionary and the Possible Applications in Japan’

This thesis interprets four published works and unpublished works of Søren Kierkegaard (1813-55) from the perspective of Kierkegaard as a missionary and applies the Kierkegaardian mission to the Japanese context. It demonstrates that Kierkegaard recognized himself as a missionary writer and considered being a missionary an integral part of being a Christian. Kierkegaard’s strategy can be identified as an incarnational mission that attempts to proclaim Jesus Christ after the manner that Jesus had done on the earth. 

 

Eva Wong Suk Kyun

‘Contextual Pentecostalism from a Classical Pentecostal Movement to a Contemporary Pentecostal Church Movement: A Study of the Assemblies of God of Malaysia with Special Reference to Joel 2:28-32’

This research examines how the Assemblies of God of Malaysia (AGoM) evolved from a Classical Pentecostal Movement (CPM) to a ‘Contemporary Pentecostal Church Movement’ (CPCM). It demonstrates that the espoused theology of the AGoM is classical Pentecostal in nature being derived from Joel 2 – Acts 2 and field research analysis shows its significance in AGoM’s missiological, ecclesiological and ministerial practices. In analysing changes over time, it offers also a theological interpretation of AGoM’s development from classical to contemporary movement and proposes a view of its future trajectory based on the research findings.

 

Jeffrey Thomas

‘Religious Spatiality and the Public Sphere: The Spatial Theory of Michel de Certeau and Religious Space’

Jeffrey argues that the spatial theory of Michel de Certeau is an appropriate starting point and underestimated framework for the study of religion, allowing us to account for the presence of religion in everyday life, beyond the categories of private and public.

He demonstrates that a spatial approach to religion can highlight religious practices as embodying particular ways of inhabiting the world and that de Certeau’s spatial concepts of lieu-espace and strategy-tactics provide a clear theoretical framework for identifying varieties of religious phenomena in religious and ostensibly non-religious places.

 

Jun Kim

‘A Historical and Theological Investigation of the Healing Movement in Korea: With Special Reference to Ik-du Kim, Seong-bong Lee, and Yong-gi Cho’

This thesis explores the theological foundation of the healing movement in Korea based on the works of three Korean theologians: Ik-du Kim, Seong-bong Lee, and Yong-gi Cho. It brings to light continuities and discontinuities in their theologies, the contextual factors which enabled them to develop their ideas and the theological core of the movement formed by them. This work adds to works the wider theology of divine healing, especially in the  Pentecostal/Charismatic traditions.

 

Jonathan Bornman

‘American Murids: Muslim proponents of nonviolence open alternative conversations about Islam, jihad and immigration’ 

This ethnography of a Senegalese religious community in New York, the Muridiyya, brings into conversation a nonviolent Sufi Muslim witness with an American discourseon Islam, violence and immigration. This study generates a new theoretical framework for understanding Bamba and the transnational Muridiyya through the lens of nonviolence. It argues that Murid space making is a social mechanism for peaceful relations with non-Muslims. This thesis reveals the emergence of American Murids committed to the spiritual and ethical values of Bamba and capable of adapting these to the American context. 

Read more about the scholar and his work here.

 

Daniel C. Button

‘Toward a New Heaven and New Earth: A Scientific, Biblical and Theological Exploration of Continuity and Discontinuity’

This is an interdisciplinary exploration of the level of continuity and discontinuity in the transition from creation to new creation. It brings into dialogue the perspectives of scientific, philosophical and biblical theology, examining several key issues independently in order to synthesise those conclusions into an overall assessment of continuity. It shows that a vigorous Christian environmental response demands a theology of creation which includes an eschatological vision not only for humanity but for the whole earth.

 

Melody Joy Wachsmuth

‘Understanding Identity and Social Change through Narrative: With Special Reference to Roma Pentecostalism in Croatia and Serbia’

Grounded in Anthropology of Christianity, this ethnographic work investigates two Old Romanian speaking Roma communities. It makes use of life stories, participant-observation, and extensive field work to identify several prominent themes: suffering, hardship, and trauma on the one hand and miraculous healing and tangible experiences with God on the other. It shows how identities can be transformed through connecting experiences to reinterpreted stories as part of a localised Pentecostal theology. 

 

Terence William Garde  

‘Mining God’s Way: Towards mineral resource justice with artisanal gold miners in East Africa’ 

This thesis examines the daily livelihood practices of artisanal gold miners, how these practices are impacted by bigger forces and the impasses caused.  This is the very first study of its kind which adopts an explicitly Christian (theological) perspective whilst also engaging the social science (theoretical) and technical (practical) framework. The findings inform a new understanding of artisanal mining and offer a new perspective on Christian mission as Mining God’s Way. 

 

Joan M Wise

‘Seeking Christian Enculturation among Vietnamese Evangelicals’

This thesis seeks enculturated traits which show potential for Christian enculturation in the larger Vietnamese culture through the voices of  Vietnamese Evangelical Christians and those adhering to indigenous ancestral worship practice.   The enculturated traits are said to be in the Evangelical ritual of the Lord’s Supper which, the thesis argues, helps in bridging the cultural gaps between Evangelical beliefs and indigenous pre-Christian practices.

 

Christian Tsekpoe

‘’Local Species’ in African Soil: The Development of James McKeown’s Mission Models and their Implications for The Church of Pentecost, Ghana’

This thesis examines the mission models of the Revd James McKeown, a British missionary who became the first chairman of The Church of Pentecost (CoP), Ghana. It argues that the IGMA’s emphasis on context and social change, promises its potential to prolong the mission of the Church in Africa into the foreseeable future. This thesis is, therefore, a vital contribution to the growing body of knowledge in the field of missiology.

 

Edwardneil A. Benavidez

‘Appropriation, Translation and Transformation of Institutionalised Development Discourses: The Case of Faith-based Organisations Doing Development Work in the Philippines’

This study looks into the experiences of five Evangelical faith-based organisations that are doing development work in Metro Manila, Philippines. It also explains how and why those who lead such organisations improve the use of the models they work with often through critical interactions with their peers.

 

Akintayo Sunday O. Olayinka

‘Peace research in non-violent contexts: A case study among the Southwest Nigerian Yorùbá’

This research examines how a widely acknowledged peaceful community (the Southwest Nigerian Yorùbá) maintains harmony. It also takes a close look at the potential of Yorùbá Christians and Muslims to manage their disputes, crises, and conflicts and maintain peace as part of the Yorùbá religion, culture, and values.

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