Holistic and Holy Transformation: The Practice of Wesleyan Discipleship and Transformative Learning Theory

UoM administered thesis: Phd

  • Authors:
  • Tammie Grimm


The subject of this thesis is the nature of Christian transformation as understood through the process of discipleship in the Wesleyan tradition and United Methodism in particular. A basic premise is that contemporary discipleship efforts are perceived as ineffective in spite of the numerous strategies that exist within the field of Christian education. The contention of this thesis is that the current situation is rooted in a failure to address the holistic and integrated nature of Christian transformation, which from a Wesleyan perspective is understood as the process of sanctification. This thesis explores a more holistic vision for discipleship, drawing upon methodology proposed by Richard Osmer to do theological reflection as it engages Wesleyan theology and transformative learning theory (TLT), a contemporary adult educational theory. The result is a contribution to the field of Christian education that has implications for disciple making ministries in the local congregation.Alasdair MacIntyre's theory of practice is developed as a means of accounting for the present incoherence within discipleship ministries, and to resource the development of a more holistic approach to the process of Wesleyan discipleship. As a result, discipleship is conceived of as a single complex practice comprised of four inseparably related and integrally connected dimensions: virtues, disciplines, ethos and telos. The theoretical framework also provides insight into contemporary discipleship efforts by systematically isolating each component and investigating the particular emphasis that is stressed, thus truncating the practice of discipleship.Putting this framework into conversation with TLT provides a way for theological reflection that can broker a cross-disciplinary dialogue between TLT and Wesleyan discipleship. The resulting discourse discerns which relevant aspects of TLT can be appropriated within a Wesleyan context and how TLT contributes to the field of Christian education. Contributions that Wesleyan discipleship can make to the field of TLT are also explored.The thesis develops an educational theory that views discipleship as a single coherent complex practice that is consistent with the process of sanctification in the Wesleyan tradition. Such a theory overcomes the current situation that results in isolating various discipleship efforts by prompting the field of Christian education to consider discipleship as sanctification that transforms persons and their contexts in holistic ways.


Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Philip Meadows (Supervisor)
Award date1 Aug 2017