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Title page for ETD etd-03142007-161353


Type of Document Dissertation
Author Dyer, Jennifer Eaton
Author's Email Address jenny@data.org
URN etd-03142007-161353
Title The Core Beliefs of Southern Evangelicals: A Psycho-Social Investigation of the Evangelical Megachurch Phenomenon
Degree PhD
Department Religion
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Lewis V. Baldwin Committee Member
Keywords
  • psycho-social investigation
  • megachurch
  • core beliefs
  • southern evangelicals
Date of Defense 2007-03-12
Availability unrestricted
Abstract
THE CORE BELIEFS OF SOUTHERN EVANGELICALS:

A PSYCHO-SOCIAL INVESTIGATION OF THE

EVANGELICAL MEGACHURCH PHENOMENON

JENNIFER EATON DYER

Dissertation under the direction of Professor Lewis V. Baldwin

In this dissertation, I explore the worldview of southern evangelicals. In doing so, I first describe the current, thriving evangelical subculture including the social, political, and commercial spheres of influence and behavior. Because evangelicalism predominantly arises out of southern culture, I explore the interplay of influence between southern cultural themes and evangelical themes in myth, perception, and reality. Furthermore, I consider how southern evangelicalism and evangelical behavior now influence greater America, particularly through the evangelical megachurch phenomenon.

I investigate the evangelical megachurch phenomenon from both a sociological and psychological perspective. With a critique of rational choice theory, I suggest the theatre, as an alternative model to the marketplace, may be the best model by which to understand the megachurch today. Concomitantly, I approach a psychological understanding of evangelicals from three different psychological schools of thought: object-relations theory, psychoanalytic development theory, and cognitive theory. All provide a different angle by which to understand the thought-world of evangelicals in the megachurch, yet all point to the fundamental core beliefs of evangelicals as helplessness and unloveability. Thus, cognitive theory provides the best theory by which to understand the psychology of evangelicals. In this research, I provide a new way to understand southern evangelicals using a psychological lens.

Approved: Professor Lewis V. Baldwin

Date: March 12, 2007

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