Met woord en daad in diens van God : die diakonaat van die NG Kerk in postapartheid Suid-Afrika

Van Der Merwe, William Charles (2014-12)

Thesis (PhD)--Stellenbosch University, 2014.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Over the past two decades the Dutch Reformed Church, a typical mainline church in South Africa, encountered radical challenges, as was the case with many similar churches worldwide. The DR Church had to face global societal shifts such as the emergence of postmodernism, the intensifying of secularisation and the growing impact of globalisation on the religious community. In addition, the members of the DR Church were exposed to radical challenges due to the dismantling of the apartheid system in South Africa. This dismantling was a particularly traumatic experience for the DR Church, seeing that this church did not only support the apartheid regime, but also legitimized it on theological grounds. It is therefore understandable that the publishing of the document Kerk en Samelewing (“Church and Society”) in 1986, which first signalled the rejection of apartheid in the DR Church, evoked a major reaction, not only among the church membership, but also within the ranks of white Afrikaners as social group. With the dawn of the post-apartheid era in South Africa in 1994, the issue of the church's relevance was already on the agenda of the ecumenical church. In recent times suddenly this theme also became critical to the church in South Africa and especially to the DR Church. The present study proposes that a missional diaconal ministry which focuses on the society as a whole will provide a modus to the DR Church by which it can function as a relevant church within the South African society. The rationale of this investigation is a follows: The DR Church is currently (2014) not in a position to impact significantly on the societal needs of South African citizens. The reason is that this church's current ministry of compassion is still based on an ecclesiocentric and specialist approach, which was typical of the Corpus Christianum. As a result, a new, unique praxis is needed for the diaconal ministry of this church. The present study argues that missional theology provides a new paradigm according to which an applicable missional diaconal praxis can be developed for the DR Church. Such a unique diaconal praxis can only develop when it is guided by a spirituality that leads to a diaconal attitude and sensitivity towards the poor and destitute. This diaconal spirituality, in turn, is activated and fed by a missional theology that builds on the triune God as origin, basis and final purpose of the diaconal ministry as such. Furthermore in this study it is shown that the concept of missio Dei implies that the diaconal ministry forms an integral part of God’s mission and is thus not an isolated church ministry besides other ministries. It is further argued in the present study that a multi-dimensional missional-diaconal practice should be developed for congregations and the various structures within the DR Church. To facilitate the conceptualisation and operationalisation of a missional diaconal ministry in this church, the study proposes that a specific research focus, namely “Missional-diaconal Studies” should be developed for the South African environment. For this purpose a research and teaching institution should be established to provide in such needs of the church.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Die NG Kerk, ’n tipiese hoofstroomkerk in Suid-Afrika, het die afgelope 20 jaar – soos vele ander kerke wêreldwyd – voor ingrypende uitdagings te staan gekom. Hierdie kerk moes globale samelewingsverskuiwings verwerk, soos die opkoms van postmodernisme, ’n verskerping in sekularisasie en die impak van globalisering op die geloofsgemeenskap. Daarbenewens is die NG Kerklidmate blootgestel aan ingrypende veranderings wat gevolg het op die aftakeling van die apartheidstelsel in Suid-Afrika. Hierdie aftakeling was veral traumaties vir die NG Kerk omdat hierdie kerk nie slegs apartheid ondersteun het nie, maar dit ook op teologiese gronde verdedig het. Dit is gevolglik begryplik dat die verskyning van die dokument Kerk en Samelewing (1986), waarin die eerste tekens van ’n wegbeweeg van die apartheidsideologie in die NG Kerk sigbaar word, hewige reaksie ontlok het – tussen die kerklidmate, maar ook in die blanke Afrikaners as samelewingsgroep. Met die aanbreek van die postapartheid-era in Suid-Afrika in 1994 was die vraag na die relevansie van die kerk reeds wêreldwyd op kerklike agendas. Skielik het hierdie vraag nou ook vir die kerk in Suid-Afrika, en veral die NG Kerk, ’n kernsaak geword. In hierdie studie word voorgestel dat ’n missionaal-diakonale bediening wat op die samelewing in geheel fokus, ’n moontlike modus vir die NG Kerk kan verskaf om vir die Suid-Afrikaanse samelewing relevant te funksioneer. Die rasionaal van die ondersoek behels die volgende: As gevolg van die historiese ontwikkeling van die NG Kerk se diens van barmhartigheid, veral die verbondenheid aan ʼn volksteologie en nasionalisme die afgelope paar dekades, kan hierdie kerk binne die postapartheid-era tans (2014) nie werklik ʼn verskil aan die nood in die samelewing maak nie. Die bestaande barmhartigheidsbediening van hierdie kerk is steeds gebaseer op ʼn model wat nog spruit uit ʼn ekklesiosentriese en spesialisbenadering wat eie is aan die Corpus Christianum. Gevolglik is ʼn nuwe, eiesoortige praxis vir hierdie kerk se diakonaat nodig. In die huidige studie word betoog dat die missionale teologie ʼn nuwe paradigma voorsien waarvolgens ʼn toepaslike missionaal-diakonale praxis vir die NG Kerk ontwikkel kan word. So ʼn eiesoortige diakonale praxis kan egter slegs ontwikkel wanneer dit gerig word deur ’n spiritualiteit wat lei tot ’n diakonale gesindheid en houding teenoor die armes en noodlydendes. Hierdie diakonale spiritualiteit word aangewakker en gevoed deur ’n missionale teologie wat bou op God Drie-enig as oorsprong, basis en einddoel van die diakonaat. Verder word in hierdie studie aangetoon dat die missio Dei juis veronderstel dat die diakonaat ʼn wesenlike deel uitmaak van God se sending en gevolglik nie ʼn losstaande bediening van die kerk benewens ander bedienings is nie. In die studie word verder betoog dat ʼn multidimensionele missionaal-diakonale praktyk vir gemeentes en die onderskeie kerkverbande binne die NG Kerk ontwikkel behoort te word. Om die konseptualisering en operasionalisering van ʼn missionale diakonaat in hierdie kerk te bevorder word in die studie aanbeveel dat ’n navorsingsfokus, naamlik “Missionaaldiakonale Studie”, vir die Suid-Afrikaanse konteks ontwikkel word. Hiervoor behoort ʼn navorsings- en opleidingsinstelling in die lewe geroep te word om aan sodanige kerklike behoeftes te voldoen.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/95820
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