Defense Date


Graduation Date

Fall 12-20-2019


One-year Embargo

Submission Type


Degree Name





McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts

Committee Chair

Elizabeth Agnew Cochran

Committee Member

William Wright

Committee Member

Darlene Fozard Weaver


Mission, Ethics, Alasdair MacIntyre, Thomas Aquinas, Missiology, Rhetoric, Evangelism, Virtue Ethics, John Henry Newman, Persuasion


This work uses theological virtue ethics as a guide both for critiquing various models of Christian mission and for constructing a model of mission that adequately addresses these criticisms. The first section of the dissertation (chapters one, two, and three) is devoted to an assessment of three major models of mission, which I have labeled mission as the missio Dei, mission as growth, and mission as dialogue. This assessment generates three recurring issues within the field of missiology that have remained largely unresolved: the problems of distinction, agency, and persuasion. The second half of the dissertation (chapters four, five, and the concluding chapter) involves an elucidation of a model of mission that is grounded in virtue ethics. The thesis proposed is this: Christian mission is best construed as specific activities (proclamation and gathering) that develop virtue in its practitioners, moving them toward their ultimate goal of partaking in the glory of God. My conception of mission carries with it three major goals. First, that it adequately addresses the perpetual problems of distinction, agency, and persuasion elaborated on in the critical section of the dissertation. Second, that such a model is in accordance with the depictions of Christian mission in scripture, particularly the Book of Acts. Third, that this account encourages moral reflection upon the practical activities of missionaries. Chapter four is devoted to a further explanation of these goals and an elucidation of my thesis statement, drawing significantly on the works of Thomas Aquinas and Alasdair MacIntyre. Chapter five involves an examination of the process of Christian conversion and a detailed account of the virtuous missional practice of proclamation. Finally, the concluding chapter situates the virtuous practices of mission within the broader context of a life well-lived.