Lori Wagner

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Ministry (DMin)



First Advisor

Gregg Borror, DMin

Second Advisor

Antipas Harris, DMin

Third Advisor

Leonard I. Sweet, PhD


Metaphor studies have become vogue in postcritical culture among the scientific and socio-scientific communities, in advertising and in the political arena. In fact, advertisers and marketers for years have known the power of a resonant metaphor to change minds and hearts. Once relegated to the realms of literature and linguistics, metaphor studies today represent the cutting edge of research in nearly every discipline. However, the church and the Biblical Studies academy have essentially ignored this trend, still engaging predominantly in close critical analyses of texts and refusing for the most part to engage in popular culture.

This dissertation agrees with theorists Lakoff and Johnson, and others, that metaphors are the DNA of meaning, identity and therefore the necessary catalysts for visioning and change. Because metaphors are inherent in every human thought process, they are also creative, relational, multi-dimensional and interactive. When metaphors are transported from closed literary systems into cultural systems, they take on roles as change agents. I call this kind of open system metaphor theory in my dissertation, “field theory.” Metaphors exist powerfully within fields. They are prismic entities containing depth and breadth. They relate not linearly but in networks and webs. Field theory in the sciences and social sciences has educated us in the way fields behave, and I will draw on scientific and interdisciplinary definitions of “field” in order to explain the way that metaphor can function and contribute powerfully to both the theory and praxis of ministry and in contemporary postcritical culture.

Metaphor field theory can help bridge divides inherent between theory and praxis, between church and culture and within and between individuals and can provide the tools for identity building, visioning and mission within postcritical culture. The artifact for this dissertation therefore will introduce a new kind of nonprofit cross-cultural society that transcends boundaries and creates new field space for communication, creativity and an integrated synergetic vision.

Included in

Christianity Commons