Cookies Policy

This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies.

I accept this policy

Find out more here

The Theological Meaning of Jesus’ Resurrection: A Content Analysis of Mainline and Conservative Protestant Easter Sunday Sermons

No metrics data to plot.
The attempt to load metrics for this article has failed.
The attempt to plot a graph for these metrics has failed.
The full text of this article is not currently available.

Brill’s MyBook program is exclusively available on BrillOnline Books and Journals. Students and scholars affiliated with an institution that has purchased a Brill E-Book on the BrillOnline platform automatically have access to the MyBook option for the title(s) acquired by the Library. Brill MyBook is a print-on-demand paperback copy which is sold at a favorably uniform low price.

Access this article

+ Tax (if applicable)
Add to Favorites
You must be logged in to use this functionality

image of Journal of Empirical Theology

Abstract This Canadian study qualitatively analyzed the texts of 35 conservative and 34 mainline Protestant Easter Sunday sermons. With the goal of indentifying similarities and differences between the conservative and mainline texts, the sermons were examined to determine 1) what they said about the purpose and meaning of Jesus’ resurrection and 2) the degree to which those explanations more broadly reflected adherence to the doctrine of Biblical authority. Among other findings, it was determined that sermons in both groups linked Jesus’ resurrection to supernatural boons for believers (i.e., eternal life, divine power in this life, or both). However, when referencing these supernatural gains the two groups differed in terms of proportion and manner of explication. All the conservative Protestant sermons referenced one or more supernatural benefits but less than two-thirds of the mainline sermons did so; the remaining mainline texts posited that the resurrection’s theological meaning was metaphorical and served to reveal a key existential lesson. Furthermore, conservative Protestant sermons always supported their theological claims with scriptural proof-texts while the vast majority of mainline sermons did not (the exception being sermons preached in rural mainline churches). Overall, strong adherence to the doctrine of Biblical authority was evidenced in the conservative Protestant sermons while the mainline sermons did not evidence strong adherence to that doctrine. Implications and possible explanations of these results are discussed.

Affiliations: 1: Wilfrid Laurier University Canada


Full text loading...


Data & Media loading...

1. Adams Michael Fire and ice: The United States, Canada and the myth of converging values 2003 Toronto, ON Penguin
2. Averill Lloyd J. American theology in the liberal tradition 1968 Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Westminster
3. Baker Mark, D. Proclaiming the scandal of the cross 2006 Grand Rapids, Michigan Baker Academic
4. Berkhof Hendrikus Christian faith: An introduction to the study of the faith 1979 Grand Rapids, Michigan Eerdmans
5. Bibby Reginald W. The Boomer factor 2006 Toronto, Ontario Bastian
6. Bibby Reginald W. Restless Churches: How Canada’s churches can contribute to the emerging religious renaissance 2004 Kelowna, British Columbia Novalis
7. Bibby Reginald W. Restless gods: The renaissance of religion in Canada 2002 Kelowna, BC Novalis
8. Borg Marcus Meeting Jesus Again for the First Time: The Historical Jesus and the Heart of Contemporary Faith 1994 San Francisco, California HarperOne
9. Borg Marcus , Wright N. T. The meaning of Jesus: Two visions 2000 San Francisco, California HarperOne
10. Bowen Glen A. "Grounded theory and sensitizing concepts" International Journal of Qualitative Methods 2006 Vol 5 3 1 9
11. Bruce Steve "Identifying Conservative Protestantism" Sociological Analysis 1983 Vol 44 1 65 70 [Crossref]
12. Buddenbaum Judith M. Stout D. , Buddenbaum J. M. "Mainline Protestants and the media" Religion and Mass Media: Audiences and Adaptations 1996 Thousand Oaks, California Sage 51 60
13. Bultmann Rudolf Theology of the New Testament 2007 [1951] Waco, TX Baylor University Press
14. Bultmann Rudolf Jesus Christ and mythology 1957 New York Charles Scribner & Sons
15. Camroux Martin F. "Harnack to Jenkins: Liberal theology in the twentieth century" The Expository Times 1997 Vol 108 233 236 [Crossref]
16. Charmaz Kathy Constructing grounded theory. A practical guide through qualitative analysis 2006 Thousands Oaks, CA Sage Publications
17. Charmaz Kathy Denzin N. K. , Lincoln Y. S. "Grounded theory: Objectivist and constructivist methods" Strategies for qualitative inquiry 2003 Thousand Oaks, CA Sage 249 229
18. Clark Warren Patterns of Religious Attendance 2000 Ottawa, ON Statistics Canada
19. Clarke Brian Murphy T. , Perin R. "English Speaking Canada from 1854." A Concise History of Christianity in Canada 1996 Toronto, ON Oxford University Press 261 359
20. Craig William, Lane. Assessing the NT evidence for the historicity of the resurrection of Jesus 1989 Lewiston, New York Edwin Mellen
21. Crossan John Dominic. The birth of Christianity 1999 New York HarperOne
22. Crossan John Dominic. Jesus: A revolutionary biography 1994 San Francisco, California HarperSanFrancisco
23. Earle Ralph Henry Carl F. H. "The person of Christ: Death, resurrection, ascension" Basic Christian Doctrines 1962 New York Holt, Rinehart, and Winston 138 144
24. Ehrman Bart D. "The New Testament: A historical introduction to the early Christian writings" 2008 New York Oxford University Press
25. Faulkner Joseph E. Newell Williams D. "What are they saying? A content analysis of 206 sermons preached in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) during 1988" A Case Study of Mainstream Protestantism: The Disciples’ Relation to American Culture, 1880-1889 1991 Grand Rapids, Michigan Eerdmans 416 439
26. Finger Thomas, N. Christian theology: An eschatological approach 2003 Nashville, Tennessee Thomas Nelson
27. Flatt Kevin "The loyal opposition: A brief history of the renewal movement in the United Church of Canada, 1966-2010" Church and Faith Trends 2010 Vol 3 3 1 18
28. Fosdick Harry Emerson Dear Mr. Brown 1961 New York Harper & Row
29. Fosdick Harry Emerson The modern use of the Bible 1924 New York Macmillan
30. Fuller George C. "The life of Jesus after the ascension" Westminster Theological Journal 1994 Vol 56 391 398
31. Glaser Barney G. Theoretical sensitivity: Advances in the methodology of grounded theory 1978 Mill Valley, CA Sociology Press
32. Glaser Barney G. , Strauss Anselm L. The discovery of grounded theory: Strategies for qualitative research 1967 Chicago Aldine
33. Gray George , Guppy Neil Successful surveys: Research methods and practice 2003 Scarborough, Ontario Nelson
34. Grant Robert M. , Tracy David A short history of the interpretation of the Bible 1984 Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Fortress
35. Grudem Wayne A. Systematic theology: An introduction to Biblical doctrine 1994 Leicester Inter-Varsity
36. Gunter Lorne "Fighting Canada’s Secularist Tide" National Post 2005 September 26 A16
37. Harvey Bob "A Church Leader’s View of Jesus’ Life" Hamilton Spectator 1997 November 27 A15
38. Haskell David M. Through a Lens Darkly: How the News Media Perceive and Portray Evangelicals 2009 Toronto, Ontario Clements Academic
39. Haskell David M. , Paradis Kenneth , Burgoyne Stephanie "Defending the faith: Reaction to The Da Vinci Code, The Jesus Papers, The Gospel of Judas and other pop culture discourses in Easter Sunday sermons" Review of Religious Research 2008 Vol 50 2 139 156
40. Heimstra Rick "Evangelical giving and volunteering" Church and Faith Trends 2009 Vol 2 2 1 10
41. Heimstra Rick "Evangelical alignment in Canada" Church and Faith Trends 2008 Vol 1 3 1 15
42. Hordern William A layman’s guide to Protestant theology 1955 New York Macmillan
43. Knight Keith "Conservative Anglicans determined to stay within church" Anglican Journal 2008 November 28 A1
44. Lewis Charles "Dawn of a new Reformation; Archbishop believes national Anglican churches will become ‘irrelevancies’" National Post 2009 November 16 A6
45. Lightner Robert P. Evangelical theology: A survey and review 1986 Grand Rapids, Michigan Baker
46. McLennan Scotty Jesus was a liberal 2009 New York Palgrave MacMillan
47. Miller Christine , Carlin Nathan "Joel Osteen as cultural selfobject: Meeting the needs of the group self and its individual members in and from the largest church in America" Pastoral Psychology 2010 Vol 59 1 27 51 [Crossref]
48. Noll Mark A. What Happened to Christian Canada? 2007 Vancouver, BC Regent College Press
49. Oakland Roger Faith Undone 2007 Silverton, Oregon Lighthouse Trails
50. Ogilvie Margaret H. Discussion paper #2: Overcoming “The Culture of Disbelief.” 2006 Ottawa ON. The Centre for Cultural Renewal
51. Pew Forum U.S. religious landscape survey 2008 Washington, DC Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life
52. Rawlyk George A. Is Jesus your personal saviour? In search of Canadian evangelicalism in the 1990s 1996 Montreal, Quebec McGill-Queens University Press
53. Reimer Sam Evangelicals and the continental divide: The conservative protestant subculture in Canada and the United States 2003 Montreal, Quebec McGill-Queens University Press
54. Robinson Bruce A. The Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and Homosexuality 2009 Retrieved January 28, 2011 from the Religious Tolerance Web site at:
55. Schreiner Thomas R. New Testament theology: Magnifying God in Christ 2008 Grand Rapids, MI Baker Academic
56. Seibold Carmel "The place of theory and the development of a theoretical framework in a qualitative study" Qualitative Research Journal 2002 Vol 2 3 15
57. Sharman Nick "Remaining awake through a great revolution: The rhetorical strategies of Martin Luther King Jr" Social Semiotics 1999 Vol 9 1 85 105 [Crossref]
58. Shortell Timothy "Radicalization of religious discourse in El Salvador: the case of Oscar A. Romero" Sociology of Religion 2001 Vol 62 1 87 103 [Crossref]
59. Spong John Shelby Resurrection: Myth or Reality? 1995 San Francisco, California HarperSanFrancisco
60. Stark Rodney , Foster Bruce D. , Glock Charles Y. , Quinley Harold E. Wayward Shepherds: Prejudice and the Protestant Clergy 1971 New York Harper and Row
61. Stark Rodney , Foster Bruce D. , Glock Charles Y. , Quinley Harold E. "Sounds of Silence." Psychology Today 1970 April 38 62
62. Retrieved January 10, 2010 from the Religion Online Web site at:
63. Statistics Canada 2001 Census Analysis Series: Religions in Canada 2003 Ottawa, Ontario Government of Canada
64. Thomas Reid S. Evidence of the Gospel in preaching to postmoderns: A study of the sermons of leading preachers 2005 Unpublished doctoral dissertation, Ashbury Theological Seminary, Wilmore, Kentucky
65. Turley Stephen R. "Awakened to the holy: “Sinners in the hands of an angry God” in ritualized context" Christianity & Literature 2008 Vol 57 4 507 530 [Crossref]
66. VanGinkel Aileen Evangelical Beliefs and Practices: A Summary of the 2003 Ipsos Reid Survey Results 2003 Markham, Ontario Evangelical Fellowship of Canada
67. Wellman James, K. Evangelical vs. Liberal 2008 New York Oxford University Press [Crossref]
68. Witten Marsha, G. All is Forgiven: The secular message in American Protestantism 1993 Princeton, New Jersey Princeton University Press
69. Woodbridge John Biblical authority: A critique of the Rogers/McKim proposal 1982 Zondervan, Grand Rapid, MI Zondervan
70. Wright N. T. The resurrection of the Son of God 2003 Minneapolis, Minnesota Fortress

Article metrics loading...



Can't access your account?
  • Tools

  • Add to Favorites
  • Printable version
  • Email this page
  • Subscribe to ToC alert
  • Get permissions
  • Recommend to your library

    You must fill out fields marked with: *

    Librarian details
    Your details
    Why are you recommending this title?
    Select reason:
    Journal of Empirical Theology — Recommend this title to your library
  • Export citations
  • Key

  • Full access
  • Open Access
  • Partial/No accessInformation