I often get asked how things are going on writing my thesis. I am so blessed that people are interested in what I am doing. So I thought it may be time for an update on my progress. Since I rejoined my PhD program in 2015, I have been writing in various chapters but none of them were complete enough to submit. Last year I concentrated on completing chapter one and in November I submitted it.
In March, I stepped down from my position as Pastor because I felt like the Lord told us it was time. However, I didn’t know exactly what I was supposed to do next. All I knew to do was to write. So that’s what I have been doing. The last two months have been a sovereign gift to my life. I have made tremendous progress. Since I left the church, I have been able to work full time on writing while we have been waiting on God for what he wants me to do next. Turns out, for now, this is what he wants me to do. He wants me to make progress. I have been able to spend most of my days and many of my nights writing. It has been a wonderful gift. It hasn’t been easy and sometimes its quite lonely. But truly, I have enjoyed it all. It feels like a true sabbatical.
I have to say, that without Amonda, none of this would be possible. She has been amazing. She has been willing to sacrifice to allow me this time to work toward completion. She has steadied me when I get nervous and re-assured me of God’s plan and showed faith even when I have doubted. Most of all, she has supported me and the call on my life and for our family. I am so grateful for her. I am so blessed. There is no greater gift in my life than she is. Since we are not pastoring we have been able to worship together as a family for the first time in our married life. We also have been able to visit different churches of some of my pastor friends. I even got to be a guest speaker a few weeks back.
The past two months have been a tremendous season of grace and progress. Since March I have completed chapter 2 and chapter 3 and submitted them to my supervisor. Now I am working on chapter 4, which is mostly written, and hope to submit it later this month. Also, Chapter 5 is about half way written. This leaves only my final chapter to be written. So in total, I have about 4 1/2 of 6 chapters written, 3 of which have been submitted. My page total is somewhere around 230 of 250 pages. I can see the finish line! Praise God!
Since I have made so much progress I wanted to share a brief synopsis of each chapter for those who want to know more about what I am researching.
Chapter 1: This is the introduction chapter where I outline the scope of the study and the question I am trying to answer. My main research question is why did the Assemblies of God chose the particular positions on eschatology that they chose. Four out of the sixteen doctrines in the Statement of Fundamental Truths has to do with eschatology. Why is that? And is the eschatology they chose reflective of their Pentecostal Spirituality or was it just adopted from the primary evangelical positions of the day.
Chapter 2: This is my literature review. I look at all of the scholarchip pertaining the the AG and to the topic of Pentecostal eschatology. You might be surprised to know that Pentecostal eschatology is a popular topic among scolars today. This chapter helps paint the picture of what they are saying.
Chapter 3: In this chapter I look at the rise of Pentecostalism and the influences that were present in 19th Century Evangelicalism that gave rise to the Pentecostal movement. Here I trace back all the language of the Holy Spirit and the eschatological metaphors, such as the Bride of Christ and Latter rain, into the movement. I look at the eschatology of Darby, Scofield, Parham, Seymour, and Durham. From there I build a narrative of what type of theology and eschatology contributed to the forming of the AG. I conclude by discussing the role of the AG as part of the Finished Work Stream of Pentecostalism and how that influenced their theology.
Chapter 4: In this chapter I discuss the origin of the AG Statement of Fundamental Truths. I go through each of the eschatological truths and trace the ways in which they have been revised and changed over the past 100 years. (There is whole lot of misunderstanding about what the AG actually believes!). I also chart all of the doctrinal controversies the AG has responded to over the years and how that effected the AG positions.
Chapter 5: IN this chapter I go through 100 years of articles on eschatology in the Evangel. I also outline the eschatological positions in the various doctrinal books published by the AG. The goal is to chart the way in which the AG has expressed eschatology and the nuances of how they have seen it function as a part of their Pentecostal theology.
Chapter 6: This is my concluding chapter where I will summarize my findings and make some suggestions for areas in which AG eschatology needs to develop. The final goal is to provide a comprehensive understanding of AG eschatology.
Keep me in you prayers as I continue to make progress. If I keep my current pace, I feel like I could potentially complete my writing by the end of summer. Its an ambitious goal but one I am working hard to try to accomplish. The rest I am leaving in God’s hands. He has a place for me. Until then, we will continue to wait on the Lord.