The child in American evangelicalism and the problem of affluence : a theological anthropology of the Affluent American-Evangelical Child (AAEC) in late modernity
This thesis presents an evangelical theology of the child in the context of American evangelicalism and affluence. Employing an eclectic theological- critical method, a theological anthropology of the AAEC is developed through an interdisciplinary evangelical engagement of American history, sociology and economics. The central argument is that affluence constitutes a significant impediment to evangelical nurture of the AAEC in the 'discipline and instruction of the Lord' (Eph 6:4). Thus, nurture in evangelical affluence is the theological- anthropological problem addressed in the thesis. The issue of 'lack' raised by Matthew’s rich young man (Mt 19:20) provides the biblical-theological focal point for developing an evangelical theology of the AAEC in chapter 5, the heart of the thesis. The conclusion reached is that nurture in the cultural matrices of the evangelical affluence generated by technological consumer capitalism in the U.S. impedes spiritual and moral formation of the AAEC for discipleship in the way of the cross, risks disciplinary formation of the AAEC for capitalist culture, cultivates delusional belief that life consists in an abundance of possessions and hinders the practice of evangelical liberation of the poor on humanity's underside. This constitutes the AAEC's spiritual-moral 'lack' in late modernity. Following chapter 1’s introduction and overview, chapters 2 and 3 provide a diachronie lens for the theological anthropology of the AAEC through critical assessment of the theological anthropologies of the child in Jonathan Edwards, Horace Bushnell and Lawrence Richards. The synchronic perspective of the thesis is provided by chapter 4's evangelical sociology of the AAEC, drawing upon William Corsaro's theory of 'interpretive reproductions', and chapter 5's evangelical theology of the AAEC developed through theological critique of John Schneider's evangelical theology of affluence. Chapter 6， 'Whither the AAEC?', concludes with a recapitulation of the thesis and a forecast of possible futures for the AAEC in the twenty-first century.