From churches in cultural captivity to the church incarnate in a culture: Ecclesial mediation after the dissolution of the Southern Baptist subculture

Date of Award


Degree Name

Ph.D. in Theology


Department of Religious Studies


Advisor: William L. Portier


This dissertation is an analysis of how my tribe of moderate Baptists arrived at a state of theological paralysis, unable to go forward together but unwilling to critically assess their own history or constructively engage with the broader Christian tradition, and a proposal for how they might seek consensus and renewal. It resembles quite a few recent Baptist projects in that it attempts to make sense of the past in order to be faithful in the future, but it is distinct in that it focuses on the roles of southern culture and especially the Southern Baptist subculture in shaping theology and ethics. It argues that the dissolution of the subculture has distanced moderates from one another and the universal church, thereby impoverishing their thought and action and deepening their captivity to culture. However, it also argues that by exposing flaws in their conception of freedom, the dissolution of the subculture presents an opportunity to develop a robust ecclesiology and theology of tradition with the goal of again incarnating their faith in its own culture, one that both inhabits and transcends American culture.


Southern Baptist Convention, Christian sociology Baptists, Baptists Theology, Theology, Southern Baptist Convention, James McClendon, E Y Mullins

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Copyright © 2014, author