Ecclesiology and Christian Identity in Consumer & Secular Culture


I've taught a couple of times at Fuller Seminary, in the extensions department.  I've now been asked to put together a module for D.Min students to have as an option.

My first stab at a draft outline for it is below.

Ecclesiology and Christian Identity in Consumer & Secular Culture. (8 units) Jason Clark


This course introduces students to a diagnosis of Consumerism, Secularism and the Market as analogous religious systems, and explores the implications for concrete missional ecclesiology for Christian identity and formation in our current emerging context, with specific application and assessment of current ‘state of the art’ Emerging Ecclesiologies.  These course seeks to answer several questions: What is the relationship and nature of the western evangelical ecclesiologies, to Consumerism, Secularism and the Market and how does this affect Christian conversion, identity and formation?  Does the Emerging Church attend to any inherent problems within this relationship or continue to perpetuate them?  What alternatives are available for Ecclesiology in light of this examination for Christian conversion and formation?

In terms of method the main course elements are an investigation of the nature and history of Evangelicalism within Consumer and Secular Culture, the production of a theological, philosophical and social theory based account of the Christian identity and formation within that context, an examination of the resources of the Christian tradition for application to that account and any arising problems (in particular the Augustinian/Reformed tradition), and the use of that account for an assessment of current emerging church ecclesiologies.


*  Understand the nature of western evangelicalism's ecclesiological relationship to Consumerism and the Market, and affects on Christian conversion and formation, in relation to the student’s own context.

*  Produce a ‘thick’ theological, philosophical and social theory based critique of that relationship and ecclesiology, and of students own ecclesiology

* Locate traditioned resources for Ecclesiology that attend to these problems

* Apply the theological skills learned from these accounts by making assessment of Emerging Church Ecclesiologies, and relevance for the students own context

* Produce accounts for concrete missional ecclesiologies that might be more effective for the students own context


Many Christian leaders in churches, Christian organizations and various mission communities recognize that the world is rapidly becoming interconnected economically, technologically, culturally and politically. Increasingly our consumer-oriented market-based society, people often regard churches of all stripes as a matter of personal preference and convenience, and are forming new ecclesiologies around these changes, uncritically.

At the same time, leaders are often culturally aware, yet they lack any confidence and grounding in Scripture, church history and theology. Consequently, they find themselves struggling to adapt in order to fruitfully and effectively proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ in this context.  This course is designed to attend to these problems and challenges.


This two-week intensive course will feature dialogical lectures, personal and small group reflection, guest presentations, various media (web – research, PowerPoint presentations, videos), and the practice of interpretive skills. Students will continue to implement research and participate in moodle activities throughout the year, and engagement with other social media tools, such as twitter.


Bebbington, D. W. Evangelicalism in Modern Britain : A History from the 1730's to the 1980's: Unwin Hyman, 1989.

Cavanaugh, William T. Torture and Eucharist : Theology, Politics, and the Body of Christ Challenges in Contemporary Theology. Oxford: Blackwell Publishers, 1998.

________. Theopolitical Imagination. London ; New York: T & T Clark, 2002.

________. Being Consumed : Economics and Christian Desire. Grand Rapids, Mich.: William B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., 2008.

Chan, Simon. Liturgical Theology : The Church as Worshiping Community. Downers Grove, Ill.: IVP Academic, 2006.

Haykin, Michael A. G., and Kenneth J. Stewart. The Emergence of Evangelicalism : Exploring Historical Continuities. Nottingham: Inter-Varsity Press, 2008.

Hütter, Reinhard. Suffering Divine Things : Theology as Church Practice. Grand Rapids, Mich. ; Cambridge: W.B. Eerdmans, 2000.

Long, D. Stephen. Divine Economy : Theology and the Market Radical Orthodoxy Series. London ; New York: Routledge, 2000.

MacIntyre, Alasdair C. After Virtue : A Study in Moral Theory. London: Duckworth, 1981.

Miller, Vincent Jude. Consuming Religion : Christian Faith and Practice in a Consumer Culture. New York: Continuum, 2003.

Noll, Mark A. The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind. Grand Rapids, Mich.: W.B. Eerdmans, 1994.

________. The Rise of Evangelicalism : The Age of Edwards, Whitefield and the Wesleys A History of Evangelicalism. Nottingham: IVP, 2004.

O'Donovan, Oliver. Resurrection and Moral Order : An Outline for Evangelical Ethics. 2nd ed. ed. Leicester: Apollas, 1994.

________. The Desire of the Nations : Rediscovering the Roots of Political Theology: Cambridge : Cambridge University Press, 1996 (1999 [printing]), 1999.

Polanyi, Karl. The Great Transformation : The Political and Economic Origins of Our Time. 2nd Beacon Paperback ed. ed. Boston, MA: Beacon Press, 2001.

Taylor, Charles. Sources of the Self : The Making of the Modern Identity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989.

________. Modern Social Imaginaries. Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press ; Chesham : Combined Academic, 2004.

________. A Secular Age. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2007.

Weber, Max, and Talcott Parsons. The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism. Mineola, N.Y.: Dover Publications, 2003.



*  4500 pages (12 units) or 3000 pages (8 units) from reading list.

*  A reading log will be due the first day of class.


*  Finish required and recommended materials to total of 4500 pages

*  Write a 5,000 word academic paper that assesses current emerging ecclesiologies in light of the learning from this course and makes application to the students own ministry context.