Guns and the American Christian : a practical theological study
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This dissertation is a practical theological study of American Christian gun owners. It seeks to answer the question “How do American Christian gun owners understand their gun practices theologically?” It argues that they do so in a range of ways, and that their practices are a complex blend of faith, culture, and experience. That blend both shapes their theologies and comes to be shaped by those theologies. Its central contribution is its close attention to how American Christian gun owners talk about guns and faith and in its clear demonstration that the two are closely related for many. It establishes this through a series of focus groups and individual interviews with Christian gun owners that were conducted for this study from various locations across the United States, with a particular emphasis on the similarities and differences between white and Black gun owners. The study places modern gun violence and gun ownership in historical and sociological perspective, compares denominational, academic, and popular theologies of guns, and concludes with a critical analysis of how Christian gun ownership might be better understood, particularly in theological terms. Building on the work of John Reader and others, this study argues that gun ownership is highly concerned with “comfort zones,” which need to be conceived as physical, emotional, cultural and theological spaces.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
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