Date of Award
Doctor of Ministry (DMin)
David Robinson, DMin
Mary Laymon, DMin
Chronic pain sufferers can find themselves on the margins of evangelical culture in the United States. Evangelicals are largely guided by a paradigm of power, an ethos that finds little room for the hurting and disabled. Pain sufferers do not fit into such a paradigm; their physical limitations can prevent them from contributing to the evangelical church’s efforts to extend their influence. It is not that pain sufferers are ignored by evangelicals; many churches have some type of ministry function to assist them. The issue is that they are not valued in their current state of suffering.
Spiritual formation for many evangelicals is centered around community activities that can be challenging for people with chronic pain to participate in. An over-emphasis on communal expressions rather than personal devotion places spiritually formative experiences outside the reach of some chronic pain sufferers. This dissertation considers various solutions within the church to meet the spiritual and emotional needs of chronic pain sufferers.
Section One states the problem. Section Two looks at the current cultural/theological landscape within evangelicalism and how its paradigm of power excludes chronic pain sufferers. I then extract some ideas from Job’s account of personal suffering. I also look at the solutions offered by the contemporary signs and wonders movement among some Pentecostal churches, and finish with some of the thinking within contemporary Eastern Orthodoxy. Section Three is my thesis, that chronic pain sufferers embrace their thorn in the flesh as Paul does in 2 Corinthians 12. Section Four describes the artifact, a book entitled Spiritual Help for Chronic Pain: Three Phases of Spiritual Transformation. Section Five describes the specifications for the artifact through a book proposal. Section Six is the summation of what I have learned through my dissertation process.
Golden, Michael, "Through the Valley of Darkness: Spiritual Formation for Pain Sufferers Within the Context of Evangelicalism Today" (2019). Doctor of Ministry. 317.