Archive for August 9, 2012

Aug 9

Interview with Dr. Greg Schneeberger, Ph.D.

2012 | by Trent Hunter | Category: Miscellaneous

Greg Schneeberger needs no introduction on this blog. Maybe in a few years, but not yet. Just one month ago, Greg finished up six faithful years as our Minister to Youth and Families and moved his dear family to Encinitas, California, where he is serving as a church planting intern.

As some of you know, within the past year, Greg wrapped up a Ph.D.. Greg was kind to take some time out to answer some questions for us about his main writing project for his doctorate.

Greg, thanks for doing this interview for DSC. Of course, we were sad to say goodbye to you about a month ago now. You served faithfully here and we rejoice in your new station in ministry in California. This past year you wrapped up a Ph.D. and we haven’t officially congratulated you here on the blog. So, congratulations! We’d like to hear a bit about what your doctoral dissertation entailed. But first, since you are somewhat famous for unpacking new words and unpacking familiar words in a new way, tell us, what is a dissertation?

Ha. Good question, Trent. According to that most highly regarded academic source, Wikipedia, a dissertation (or thesis) “is a document submitted in support of candidature for an academic degree or professional qualification presenting the author’s research and findings.”

That’s a solid start. A dissertation is an extended academic work on a very specific topic within a person’s field of study. It’s argument normally presumes to add to the existing body of research in a field. That is, the goal of a dissertation is to make an original contribution to scholarship in some way and persuade the reader (as objectively as possible) concerning the merits of the argument.

What was the topic of your dissertation and how did you arrive at that topic? 

The subject of my dissertation pertains to the overlap of Philosophy, Theology, and the socio-cultural context of 21st century religiosity among American youth and young adults. Basically, I’m exploring various contemporary religious trajectories among generation Y, exposing their philosophical assumptions, and trying to respond from a biblical worldview. It was easy to arrive at this subject, since it was an extension of my work with youth, young adults, and young married folks at Desert Springs. I was very eager to do doctoral work that was not only academic but practical for my ministry as well.

What was your specific thesis, and how did your argument unfold? 

Specifically, that 21st century American youth are deeply entrenched in unbiblical philosophical worldviews. The church must enumerate, analyze, and respond apologetically to these. It does so with a biblical (dare I say reformed) philosophical theology in theory and practice. The practical aspect consists of the church defending the faith, and creating structures which engage and confront the idols of the age. Desert Springs is doing just this, as the church does in every age, through worship, community, and mission.

What was your favorite section to write, and why?

I enjoyed each section in it’s own way, but the more philosophical/apologetical sections were most fun. I suppose this was the case because they were the most challenging and stimulating to me as a writer and thinker.

What was your least favorite section to write, and why?

The literature review . . . for obvious reasons! A dissertation is a like a marathon. It is not a sprint. Certain parts are “fun,” but many parts are just necessary evils. However, it is the totality of running and finishing the race that helps mold the thinker. For example, when I first began writing I asked forbearers for advice. One friend told me, quite bluntly, that I should expect to re-write nearly every word of the 1st draft. He was correct. I spent far more time on re-writing than I did on the original manuscript. That was humbling, as my advisor, although he was encouraging, continually pointed me to sections that needed work.

A writing project like this is a tremendous feat. How has God used this challenge to shape you as a Christian and as a minister? 

Indeed, this project has done just that. I wanted to pursue a degree that would challenge me spiritually and not just academically. Focusing on this area of study allowed that. I got to read as much Bible as I did postmodern philosophers or reformed apologists. I think God used the project to help me understand perseverance, hard work, goal setting, and the value of thinking critically about the culture and it’s deep philosophical structures for local church ministry. Certainly I wouldn’t go into any of the technical aspects with youth or young adults, but the issues I was uncovering fit perfectly with their needs. Thus, through this project, I was better prepared to preach God’s Word, and live out the body life of the church.

Now, let’s talk stats. How long have you been working on this degree, how many pages was your doctoral dissertation, and on a scale of 1-10 how happy are you that it is finished?

Nine chapters including the intro and conclusion, around 450 pages, and an eleven that’s it’s done! Of course, now that it’s done, there are already things I would go back and change, update, and nuance. But we’re human, research progresses, and you have to pull the trigger. All in all, I do think I accomplished my personal and academic goals. I’m glad I had the opportunity to think and write in this way and only pray that it serves to strengthen my future ministry in the church.

Thanks, Greg – and, again, congratulations!

You can learn more about Greg and Caite’s new adventure at their family blog.