Larry Taylor

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Ministry (DMin)




The problem addressed in this paper concerns how large, charismatic-type churches practice their ecclesial epistemology. It is the position of this paper that the typical hierarchical approach to leadership has hindered the epistemological process by placing too much responsibility on one person, the senior leader, and too little responsibility on the congregation as a whole. Covenant Epistemology is a response to this problem, by calling on the whole church to function in unity in the discernment process. Its core feature is the covenant that bonds members of a faith community together to a unique commitment to seek collectively knowledge and discernment. Chapter 1 sets the stage by establishing the claim and explaining the connection between the development and content of subsequent chapters. Chapter 2 presents the biblical materials to establish the background and the reason why charismatic churches often look to a single, senior leader for prophetic like vision and exclusive knowledge, and to show further how God implemented a new plan in the New Testament. Chapter 3 supports another major thread by illustrating three distinct Christian traditions, exhibited particularly in the lives of lgnatius Loyola, George Fox, and Dietrich Bonhoeffer, each illustrating the importance theology and tradition has placed on the inclusive knowing community of faith. Chapter 4 provides historical and philosophical materials that further support the thesis by discussing the failure of the Modem Period with its emphasis upon the individual, autonomous knower. A recent trend, "Social Epistemology," warrants another major component by showing the strength of community discernment. Chapter 5 reiterates the basic meaning and application of a Covenant Epistemology, the core of the thesis. In this final chapter, potential challenges and lasting benefits are addressed, concerning churches that are willing to apply the concept of a covenant epistemology to their particular congregations.

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