Investigating Contemplative Christian Spirituality as Christian Formation through a Process Hermeneutic: an analysis of History, Evolution, and Neuroscience in Christian Meditation
“Investigating Contemplative Christian Spirituality as Christian Formation through a Process Hermeneutic: an analysis of History, Evolution, and Neuroscience in Christian Meditation” argues that a contemplative approach to contemporary Christianity may serve to deepen the formation and discipleship of Christians in a manner that endeavors to shape the worldview and the epistemological lens through which followers of Jesus experience life in this world. This thesis offers a social and theological critique that addresses a failure in Christian formation by considering obstacles to intimacy with God created by common ecclesial pedagogical approaches that neglect the experiential and the intellectual dimensions of the faith journey due to outmoded cosmological models and a lack of dialogue with neuroscientific research on the human brain. Considering theologians in the early, medieval, and modern church who have cultivated approaches to experiential understandings of faith through meditation, this thesis argues that contemplative practice in dialogue with a theology of process may provide a necessary vocabulary for the future vitality of Christian discipleship. Rooting a theological methodology in the ‘evolutionary’ perspective proposed by Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, in concert with findings at the intersection of religion and neuroscience, this thesis finds that convincing biological and theological warrants exist for incorporating meditation into paradigms for Christian formation.
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