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Title: The changing theological functions of corporate worship among Southern Baptists : what they were and what they became (1638-2008)
Author: Sheehan, Stuart L.
ISNI:       0000 0004 6498 2728
Awarding Body: University of Aberdeen
Current Institution: University of Aberdeen
Date of Award: 2017
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Baptists in America (later Southern Baptists) have made various claims about the theological functions of gathering for corporate worship. Testing how these were expressed in practice has not, heretofore, been possible. This thesis does so over a period of 370 years. The enquiry begins in the seventeenth century with Baptists in America. In the nineteenth century, the focus moves exclusively to Southern Baptists. The various assertions these Baptists made about the purpose of corporate worship are compared with their actions, making it possible to identify congruity and incongruity between profession and praxis. Baptists (later Southern Baptists) generally avoided liturgies. Thus, the songs voiced by the congregation comprised the largest component of active participation in worship. Analysing the texts of psalms and hymns they used revealed the theological functions present within their worship services. The findings were compared with their assertions about the purposes of their gatherings. An innovative method was developed to test this thesis. Over 17,000 psalms and hymns were subjected to a detailed analysis. The method and the findings are original contributions. Early Baptists in America formulated corporate worship along two axes, the doxological and the communal. This was consistent with their doctrinal statements. Thereafter, they experienced three major transitions. Firstly, in the nineteenth century, evangelism was added as a function of worship. Even so, they resisted a synergistic view of conversion and maintained doxology and community as key constructs. In the twentieth century, a second transition was evident: the theological functions of worship changed. Doxology declined, giving way to a dominant, communal focus. They concurrently embraced synergism. Thirdly, a people-first orientation advanced toward individualism. As of 2008, Southern Baptists existed in a significant state of discontinuity between what they professed the purpose of worship to be and that which they did in practice.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Baptists ; Public worship