Being a hermeneutic of the gospel : hermeneutical and epistemological foundations for a missional ecclesiology

Sheridan, Timothy Michael (Stellenbosch : Stellenbosch University, 2012-03)

Thesis (DTh)--Stellenbosch University, 2012.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: The church in the West is facing a crisis of identity. Who are we as the church and what is our purpose in the world today? The recovery of a missional ecclesiology in the West is an urgent task. The aim of this study is to contribute to this work on a missional ecclesiology by focusing on the need for the church to grow its capacity to discern missional vocation. This study‘s central question: ―How can the church in the West discern its missional vocation?‖ The first chapter considers how global realities are forcing the church to re-examine its missional identity and vocation. In addition, the local realities in which this study is situated are highlighted, with particular emphasis on the realities that demand discernment. The chapter concludes with consideration of historical developments in hermeneutics, in particular the development of a missional hermeneutic. The emergence of a missional hermeneutic is important in the church‘s discernment. The second chapter ―puts on‖ a missional hermeneutic to aid in this discernment of missional vocation. Dwelling in the biblical story with this lens, and so allowing the story to renew our understanding of the role and identity of God‘s people, will shape our missional discernment. The third chapter focuses on the contemporary cultural context in its North American expression, in which the church must forge its missional identity. A retelling of the cultural story of the West demonstrates the challenges, both old and new, facing the church. Two important movements are already seeking to answer the question of how the church discerns missional vocation. The fourth chapter engages the important conversations that are happening within both the Emergent and Missional Church movements. These conversations encompass a wide diversity of theological traditions and backgrounds, but are held together by a common desire to discern what a missional ecclesiology means for the West. Particular themes that are important for discernment are highlighted as these conversations are engaged. Finally, the questions of the early chapters converge on the crux of this study: a framework for discernment, articulated in detail in the fifth chapter. Building on important examples, both Western and African, this affirmative-antithetical model of discernment is offered as a broad ―lens‖ for reflective churches seeking to discern their missional vocation. The final chapter then practices discernment in six key areas facing the church in the West today, at times using for illustration the local context in which this study is situated. These parting thoughts seek to both recognize the challenge facing missional churches, and point to encouraging dialogue already happening among those seeking to do the same.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Die kerk in die Weste beleef ʼn identiteitskrisis. Wie of wat is die kerk en wat is haar doel vandag? ʼn Misssionale ekklesiologie is in die lig hiervan ʼn noodsaaklikheid. Die studie beoog om ʼn bydrae te lewer tot die ontwikkeling van ʼn missionale ekklesiolgie. Dit wil fokus op die kerk se behoefte om geloofsonderskeidend missionale roeping beter te verstaan. Vandaar die sentrale vraag wat die studie stel: ―Hoe kan die kerk in die Weste sy missionale roeping onderskei?‖ Die eerste hoofstuk kyk hoe globale werklikhede die kerk tans forseer om sy missionale identiteit en roeping in heroorweging te neem. Die konteks waarin die studie plaasvind word beskryf met die oog op die vraag watter geloofsonderskeidende uitdagings hulle stel. Die hoofstuk hanteer ook hermeneutiese ontwikkelinge wat bygedra het tot die ontwikkeling van ʼn missionale hermeneutiek. ʼn Missionale hermeneutiek is belangrik vir geloofsonderskeiding. Die tweede hoofstuk werk met ʼn missionale hermeneutiek as dit geloofsonderskeidend die kerk se huidige roeping en uitdagings wil formuleer. As sodanig wandel dit in die Bybel se verhaal om die identiteit van die volk van God te verstaan. Laasgenoemde is ʼn voorwaarde vir enige missionale onderskeidingsproses. Die derde hoofstuk fokus op die huidige konteks van die Noord-Amerikaanse kultuur en die uitdaging wat dit vir missionale identiteit stel. ʼn Oorsig oor die verhaal van die Westerse kultuur demonstreer die ou en nuwe uitdagings waarvoor die kerk gestel word. Twee belangrike bewegings probeer antwoorde op dié uitdagings vind. Die vierde hoofstuk hanteer die gesprekke in die Ontluikende (Emergent) en Gestuurde Gemeente (Missional Church) bewegings. Die gesprekke vind plaas teen die agtergrond van ʼn wye verskeidenheid teologiese tradisies maar het in gemeen dat hulle probeer onderskei wat ʼn missionale ekklesiologie in die Weste behels. Belangrike temas in die proses van geloofsonderskeiding word belig in die bespreking van die twee bewegings. Ten slotte vloei die vrae van die vorige hoofstukke saam om die fokus van die studie aan die orde te stel: ʼn raamwerk vir geloofsonderskeiding. Hoofstuk vyf. Belangrike voorbeelde uit die Weste en uit Afrika word gebruik as ʼn lens om ʼn bevestigende-antitetiese geloofsonderskeidings-model voor te stel wat kerke kan help om hulle missionale roeping te ontdek. Die laaste hoofstuk pas geloofsonderskeidende beginsels toe op ses sleutelareas wat die kerk in die Weste moet aanspreek. Praktiese voorbeelde uit die konteks waar die studie gedoen is illustreer wat bedoel word. Met dié voorbeelde en gedagtes word die uitdagings waarvoor missionale gemeentes staan op die spits gedryf en word almal wat reeds deel is van die dialoog, uitgenooi om dit voort te sit.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/19913
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