The relational phenomenological pneumatology of James E. Loder : providing new frameworks for the Christian life
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The theological writings of James E. Loder, Jr. (1931-2001) require a wider audience. For more than forty years he developed and exercised an interdisciplinary methodology that identified patterns of correlation in the fields of fields of psychology, educational theory, phenomenology, epistemology, and physics producing a powerful theological vision that centers around the person and work of the Holy Spirit engaging and transforming human life. At his untimely death in November, 2001, Loder was the Mary D. Synnott Professor of the Philosophy of Christian Education at the Princeton Theological Seminary, Princeton, New Jersey (U. S. A.), where he lectured primarily in the areas of human development and the philosophy of education. If Loder is known at all, he is recognized for his work in the area of practical theology, especially among church educators. Even in the discipline of practical theology his work is largely unknown and has yet to receive the recognition it deserves from systematic theologians, biblical scholars, as well as clergy and laity. It is my hope to help change this. The purpose of this thesis is to introduce and examine, explore and decipher the complexity of Loder's thought in order to make it more accessible to a wider public. This important task is done in service to the broader goal of demonstrating that Loder's work, particularly his pneumatology, is of inestimable value to the discipline of theology and theology's service to the work of the church. At the core of Loder's work is an epistemological, psycho-spiritual framework that I characterize as a relational phenomenological pneumatology. The Christian life is preeminently relational, distinguished by a relationship with God constituted by Jesus Christ, and sustained by the Holy Spirit. The relation, Loder claims, takes place in and through the life of the Holy Spirit who operates within a complementary relationship with the human spirit, in what he describes as the analogia spiritus: an intimate, transformational interrelation of the Holy Spirit and the human spirit. The Holy Spirit, intimately connected to the person and work of Christ, takes up and extends the work begun in the incarnation by enfleshing the presence of Christ in the life of an individual in ways that are transformationally Christomorphic. What makes Loder's work unique is the way he articulates a theology of the Holy Spirit that incorporates a firm grasp of the way the self participates in and comes to have a knowledge of itself, the world, and God. It is precisely the logic of this dynamic, I would argue, that has extraordinary implications for the way we articulate the Christian experience. My thesis, therefore, is that Loder's relational phenomenological pneumatology contains rich and principally unrecognized resources for providing new frameworks for the Christian life.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
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