Narratives of Holiness Identity: the "Sanctified Person" in the Church of the Nazarene


This dissertation is an exercise in practical theology, which investigates and responds to the problem of changing holiness identity in the Church of the Nazarene.

The first part of the study is an empirical investigation into the social context of contemporary Nazarene holiness identity and practice among Nazarenes in three congregations located in the Northeast United States. Previous research relied too heavily on secularization and sect-church theory to understand the dynamics of religious identity change among Nazarenes. The theological result was a pessimistic appraisal of the future possibilities of holiness identity and practice in the Church of the Nazarene.

This study employs an alternative theory—Nancy T. Ammerman’s theory of narrative religious identity—to understand the dynamics of lived religious life within these congregations and to identify the various holiness narratives at play. Ammerman’s theory facilitates an empirical description of the multiple holiness identities emerging out of the social contexts of these Nazarene congregations and offers a way to account for identity change. At the heart of this research is the theoretical notion that a particular religious identity, in the case of the Church of the Nazarene, the “sanctified person,” emerges out of a particular ecclesial context characterized by religious narratives and practices that shape this identity.


(from the introduction)


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