To Be in the World But Not of It: American Evangelicals and the Dilemmas of Being Christian in a Secular World
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In this thesis I explore how evangelical Christians in two different churches in the US relate to the society they live in, which they regard as secular. I will give insight to their narratives on how they see their lives changed after converting to Christianity and also how they think that a Christian shall live in order to glorify God. The church as a collective has great impact on my informants' personal faith and how they approach the world outside of the church.I argue that their goal of being true believers" is a life-long project and that this transformation is not completed in this mortal life", which thereby places them in a constant liminal situation. By identifying as Christians in the US and trying to be in the world but not of it", they are moving across a border of the profane and the sacred; between the World and the Church which creates dilemmas and a tension that needs to be dealt with. In this thesis I identify mechanisms of dealing with this tension which keep themselves in the faith and therefore also within liminality.I also give a broader perspective on the evangelical spectrum in the US by bringing in a third church and thereby contrasting the churches within this spectrum. This third church has been infamous in the history of evangelicals, especially for their role in the so-called culture-war". The positioning within the evangelical spectrum is resulting from the different approaches the churches have to the secular and non-Christian discourses in the society they live in. I discuss their idea of a fallen culture" and if there is boundary that my informants maintain between themselves and non-Christians. The churches' different approaches to culture also affect how the churches try to make the world morally better, by using evangelism or politics as a tool.
PublisherThe University of Bergen
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