Towards a practical ecclesiology for urban Scotland

Johnstone, Harry Martin John (2005) Towards a practical ecclesiology for urban Scotland. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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This research is praxiological in nature, arising out of committed action and leading to more informed urban ecclesiological practice in Scotland. It acknowledges the current haemorrhaging of membership and influence facing the Church of Scotland - felt most acutely in the poorest parts of the country - and seeks to plot a practical urban ecclesiology which takes seriously both the urban context and also the gospel priority towards the poorest and most marginalised. Chapter One provides an autobiographical backcloth to the research and highlights the three core principles underlying it: a preferential option for the poor; an understanding of knowledge as situated; and a commitment to an abductive research process. Chapter Two outlines the research methodology and, in particular, justifies the use of Case Studies, with Focus Groups and semi-structured Interviews, as an appropriate research model. Chapter Three focuses on the nature of the post-industrial city. It highlights globalisation, environmentalism and the collapse of western-style democracy as three of the key issues in the current urban context. It considers post-war urban regeneration, highlighting the failings of a model substantially dominated by buildings and a top-down strategy. Chapter Four is concerned with the nature of poverty in Scotland today, including how such poverty can be defined and measured. The causes of poverty are understood structurally and a particular critique of New Labour's social inclusion policies is offered, based on an analysis of their underlying political philosophy of communitarianism and the Third Way. Chapter Five draws on the different theological and ecclesiological responses to the urban and to poverty and, in particular, upon Latin American Liberation Theology and Urban Theology in Britain since 1985. Through an exploration of Pentecostalism, it highlights the need to develop appropriate ecclesiological models which take the nature of rooted hybrid spirituality more seriously. In Chapter Six the focus of the research narrows down to look at Glasgow, giving consideration to both the effectiveness of the city's place-marketing strategy and also some of the patterns of church life in the city. Chapter Seven focuses upon four Case Studies. These affirm and inform the conclusions reached in previous chapters, highlighting the failure of urban policy to adequately address poverty and the need of the Church to move beyond a 'project-based' response. The research also highlights the importance of church buildings as places of sanctuary and of the 'cultural sectarianism' which continues to pervade the culture of west central Scotland. Chapter Eight represents an attempt to return to informed practice, highlighting how some of the key concepts and findings within the research are informing the developing strategy and practice of the Church of Scotland's Priority Areas Committee.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BR Christianity
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BV Practical Theology
H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts
Supervisor's Name: Supervisor, not known
Date of Award: 2005
Depositing User: Mrs Marie Cairney
Unique ID: glathesis:2005-40998
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 05 Feb 2019 09:23
Last Modified: 23 Jul 2021 14:31

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