No grey areas : a rural fundamentalist Christian perspective
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Arts
An investigation into the operation of a small rural Fundamentalist Christian Fellowship is the subject of the following thesis. This field research was undertaken through observing the group for three months by attending Sunday Fellowship meetings. At the completion of that period, eight members were interviewed. Informal discussions during that time, involving approximately thirty members, added to the information accumulated. Through observation it became apparent this group originated because of their dissatisfaction with the local Christian church. This break-away Fellowship sought to form a version of Christianity that was unstructured, flexible, informal and lacking in hierarchy. As previous research had been carried out with this group, information that might otherwise have remained hidden, such as a disfellowshipped couple, became available. The scope of this thesis will include: the development of the group, observation of a typical Fellowship meeting, investigations into their 'Biblically-based' attitude and how this related to their everyday existence, as well as information concerning a rift within the Fellowship that resulted in the expulsion of two of its members. This research led to the conclusion that although the Fellowship fulfilled a desired need within the group, its future seemed uncertain, due in part to the very aims it sought to achieve. The spiritual aspect of this Christian Fellowship was willing and strong but the physical composition, the informal hierarchical structure and format, was weak, and so in the final analysis, I consider this and similar Fellowships will have a finite, continually changing existence. All names and places have been changed, at the request of those involved, to protect the group concerned.