Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Ministry (DMin)



First Advisor

Evan Howard

Second Advisor

Carole Spencer


Liminal space is a place in-between what was and what will be. It is crucial for ongoing Christian formation. However, the Evangelical Church currently has no space for supporting those in liminality. Evangelical theology and practice actively discourage those in liminal space. As a result, Christian maturity is frustrated. Future leaders and contemplatives are endangered. This dissertation explores how the Evangelical Church could acknowledge, support, and educate those in liminal spaces.

The Bible repeats three liminal themes which create a paradigm of ongoing Christian formation. The themes are desert/wilderness, pit/grave, and exile/pilgrimage. The desert/wilderness is a liminal space, the grave/pit is a liminal posture of heart, and the exile/pilgrimage is a liminal mission into the world. Together these themes form a narrative spirituality of the Bible, a way that God changes us and prepares us for mission.

The Church has embraced this paradigm throughout its history with theology and practices. This paradigm is reflected in the liturgical calendar’s recognition of Advent, Lent, Paschal Mystery, and Holy Saturday. It has also embraced liminality in Luther’s theology of the cross, John of the Cross’ Dark Night of the Soul, and Wesley’s sermon on God’s Love toward Fallen Man.

The nineteenth century revivalists and the Keswick movement, through a reinterpretation and synthesis of Luther and Wesley, and an abandonment of many prior practices and theologies, led the Evangelical Church to embrace an imputed sanctification in which one is placed at the pinnacle of faith at conversion. This shift was hostile toward liminality, thus creating a sanctification gap.

By re-embracing liminality as a major narrative spirituality of the Bible, we create hospitality toward those within liminality, which should lead the church to increase education on the purpose and process of liminality. God can again use liminality to transform his people and prepare them for mission.

Included in

Christianity Commons