Moral formation in and through the christian family : a theological review

Julius, Elize (2006-12)

Assignment (M. Div.)--University of Stellenbosch, 2006.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: South Africans are confronted with the heartbreaking realities of society on a daily base. The question is, “How do we begin to bring about actual change concerning the distortion in the lives of people in our communities and who needs to take responsibility for this challenge? As a Christian, I approach the issue of social transformation from an understanding of God’s revelation of salvation to humankind, the church as ambassador of that message and the Christian family as the most basic entity of God’s body. It seems as if there is a definite need for virtuous living and nurturing in modern society as people relating to other people necessitate a specific understanding of how they will deal with one another. An exploration of morality and ethics –that which pertain to the character, custom and conduct of people within a community or society –moves us, however, from an initial autonomous What to do? to intimately following the question Who are we? The latter, in turn, cannot be answered unless it is preceded by asking “In what or whom should we hope?” The concern is that Christians indeed live by their conviction that God –as the “unifier of the entire creation” –has given us an order for living and that our direction for “who we are” and “how we ought to live” is found in the God of our hope –for times present and for times to come. Moral transformation of society is, thus, not about good people doing good things, but about human beings being formed into the form of Christ. The need for such a people –one that is morally transformed into the character of Christ –is especially of need in South Africa where communities and individuals are succumbed to the challenges of modern and postmodern times in unique ways. The dilemma for social transformation, however, seems to be in essence a concern for local forms of identities within which moral life can be sustained. It seems, therefore, that the most urgent and crucial task of society is the renewal of the family. Not only is the family the “the basic school of humanity” where children learn about life, but it is also the place where they learn about belief, faith and trust. Parents, who take seriously their task of commitment to raising their children according to the will of God, simultaneously serve as a sign of God’s hope and grace to other family members and their community.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Suid-Afrikaners word daagliks gekonfronteer met hartverskeurende realiteite binne gemeenskappe. Die vraag is, “Hoe begin ons om daadwerklik verandering aan te bring met betrekking tot die verwronging van menselewens en wie is veronderstel om verantwoordelikheid te neem vir hierdie uitdaging? As Christen benader ek die aangeleentheid vanuit die perspektief van God se verlossings-openbaring aan die mens, die kerk as ambassadeur van daardie boodskap en die Christen-familie as die basiese entiteit van God se liggaam. Dit skyn asof daar ‘n definitiewe behoefte vir ‘n deugsame lewe en versorging binne die moderne samelewing is na aanleiding van die noodsaaklikheid van ‘n spesifieke verstaan van omgang tussen mense wat in verhouding tot ander mense staan. ‘n Studie van moraliteit en etiek –dit wat verband hou met die karakter, gewoontes en gedrag van mense binne ‘n gemeenskap –dui egter daarop dat ‘n aanvanklike outonome “Wat om te doen?” vooraf gegaan word deur “Wie is ons?”. Laasgenoemde kan egter nie beantwoord word indien dit nie deur “In wat of in wie moet ons hoop?” vooraf gegaan word nie. Die besorgheid lê daarin opgesluit dat Christene inderdaad volgens die oortuiging leef dat God –wie die hele skepping verenig –‘n lewensorde aan ons toevertrou het. Ons vind gevolglik die aanwysing vir “wie ons is” en “hoe ons veronderstel is om te leef” in God wie ons hoop is vir die hede en die toekoms. ‘n Morele transformasie van die samelewing handel dus nie oor goeie mense wat goeie dinge doen nie, maar handel oor mense wat na die beeld van Christus gevorm word. Die behoefte aan so ‘n geslag mense –mense wat moreel na die karakter van Christus getransformeer word –is veral noodsaaklik in Suid-Afrika waar gemeenskappe en individue op unieke wyse aan moderne en postmoderne uitdagings beswyk. Die dilemma met sosiale transformasie skyn hoofsaaklik ‘n besorgheid te wees vir plaaslike vorme van identiteit waarbinne ‘n morele lewe onderhou kan word. Dit blyk dus dat die vernuwing van die familie die dringendste en noodsaaklikste taak van die gemeenskap is. Die familie is nie alleen die “basiese menslike skool” waar kinders aangaande die lewe onderrig word nie, maar dit is ook die ruimte waar hulle oor geloof en vertroue geleer word. Ouers wat hul toewydingstaak om kinders volgens die wil van God groot te maak ernstig opneem, dien gelykertyd as ‘n teken van God se hoop en genade aan ander familielede en hulle gemeenskap.

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