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Intimate Diversity: An Anglican Practical Theology of Interreligious Marriage

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy

Interreligious marriage is growing in plural societies, including England, which raises theological questions for the Church of England when her members marry partners from other religious traditions. This thesis explores what grace can be found in the gift of interreligious marriage. It argues that deeper appreciation of interreligious couples’ experience leads the Church to move in its theological, pastoral and missional response from accommodation to celebration of such intimate diversity. The reasons for this arise from re-reading normative Christian interpretations of marriage such as ‘vocation’, ‘one flesh’ and ‘covenant’, as well as drawing on insights from interreligious dialogue.
The study is presented as a piece of action research and a four-stage pastoral cycle model of practical theology is followed. In each half of the thesis two stages are presented. Part One (Experience) begins with a description of interreligious couples’ experience drawn from interviews. The second stage interprets the qualitative data generated by the interviews. Interpretation is first through sociological theories, and then theologies of inculturation and pneumatology. Part One concludes with four hypotheses drawn from the interviews and informed by the preceding interpretations. An Interlude linking the two halves consists of a case study of I Corinthians 7:12–16. It uses the pneumatology previously discussed and paves the way for the third and fourth stages. In Part Two
(Reflection) the four hypotheses are used as a basis for four successive chapters, where each hypothesis is ‘tested’ reflectively against normative Christian doctrines of marriage.
In the Conclusion the fourth pragmatic stage consists of three proposed tasks for the Church of England. These are: a transformed attitude to interreligious marriage through clearer theological understandings of intimate religious diversity; a critically affirmative pastoral response to interreligious couples; and an intentional mission that promotes the potential of interreligious marriage to enrich society and strengthen community.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Michael R. Barnes (External person) (Supervisor)
  • Paul Joyce (Supervisor)
Award date2019


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