Date of Award
Doctor of Ministry (DMin)
Leonard I. Sweet
Our awareness of mortality motivates us to subconsciously act in ways that are damaging. This dissertation engages the problems to individual and communities generated by our unexamined awareness of death. This awareness motivates us to attempt to flee death's grasp—even though we know there is no escape. The flight from death robs us not only of our ability to live full lives but also robs us of our ability to faithfully follow Jesus into the world. At times, we even distort religion and use it to shield us from death. Faith practices can be manipulated to draw us away from death rather than help us confront it in a healthy way. Utilizing the best of psychological and sociological research, combined with a Christian semiotic, this dissertation advances a contemporary understanding of the human condition. The deep wisdom in our faith tradition allows us to authentically confront the reality of our mortality. Moreover, when we ground this conversation in Scripture, we find new insights into biblical interpretation. With a powerful articulation of the human condition we are more fully able to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ to the world around us: Our words of good news correlate with the contemporary human experience. The good news then becomes relevant to those with whom we seek to share our faith. Further, this dissertation examines the reactions of individuals and faith communities to poverty and homelessness. Death awareness causes us to shy away from these marginalized communities, but prepared by our psychological and theological understanding, we will be better able to follow Jesus into the world to love and serve our neighbors.
Griffith, G. Mark, "Our Flight From Death is Killing Us: Applying a Psychological Framework to a Christian Understanding of the Human Condition" (2016). Seminary Doctoral Programs. 130.