Date of Award

Spring 2018

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Divinity (MDiv)


College of Christian Ministries and Religion

Primary Advisor

Alan J Ehler D.Min

Second Advisor

Melissa Archer Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Peter Althouse Ph.D.


The grappling art of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is often seen as a spiritual practice for those that regularly train. Practitioners claim to undergo a personal transformation that enables growth towards greater harmony within themselves and among humanity. The experience of growth within oneself and towards humanity corresponds to Paul Tillich's theological concepts of the Kingdom of God and the New Being. The Kingdom of God is characterized by individuals whom possess a harmony within themselves, and in tum, successfully live in harmony among a diversity of others. Jesus the Christ, known as the New Being, is conceived as the ultimate symbol of the human potential. Jesus was the Christ through his actualized inner disposition of harmony within the time and space of existence; Jesus the Christ's inner disposition corresponds to characteristics of the symbol of God as self-surrender to the other. Jesus the Christ's inner disposition is reflected by outward actions, titled agape. While Tillich's theology of the New Being and the Kingdom of God is a fair response to philosophy's questions of anxiety and angst found in the human condition, it is limited to explain how an individual manifests the New Being for her or himself; how is an individual to become like Jesus the Christ and also reflect agape? Through a critical analysis of Tillich's theology in relation to personal transformation experienced in the practice of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, a trinitarian perspective explicit in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu will be presented to provide guidance towards manifestation of the New Being in the time and space of existence.