Women in the CCAP Nkhoma synod : a practical theological study of their leadership roles

Chifungo, Phoebe Faith (2014-12)

Thesis (PhD)--Stellenbosch University, 2014.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: “Leave her alone, why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing to me … I tell you the truth, wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her” (Mark 14:6, 9). This is how Jesus Christ perceives woman; with gratitude, dignity and respect. Unfortunately, women have often been ill-treated, discriminated against and even oppressed by her own fellow human beings of the opposite sex just because she was born a woman. Many women have asked themselves, “Why was I born a woman?” Questions such as these motivated the researcher to carry out this current study on women The purpose of this dissertation is to: (1) Determine through an in depth literary analysis factors that have contributed to the desperate position of women leadership in CCAP Nkhoma Synod. (2) To conduct empirical research in the different congregations of the Synod among members of Chigwirizano cha amai, church elders and reverends. (3) To explore a new model of reading and interpreting New Testament texts with regards to addressing the problem of the lack of women in leadership positions in the CCAP Nkhoma Synod. The research has shown that women in the CCAP Nkhoma Synod are denied leadership positions because of historical, cultural and biblical factors. Historically, the first Dutch Reformed missionaries who came to Malawi used a patriarchal type of leadership, which sidelined women from leadership positions. Culturally, it was discovered that people brought their cultural beliefs along with them to church, that a man is superior, powerful, respectful and a controller; while woman are considered to be weak, inferior and submissive. Through Social Identity Theory, it was discovered that these beliefs and actions of considering themselves to be superior and better than women, were influenced by aspects such as self-categorization and stereotyping. This means that the moment men categorized themselves as reverends and elders, they automatically compare themselves with the other group, in this case, “Chigwirizano cha amai”. This resulted in stereotyping women as weak and powerless, not qualified to carry out leadership roles. The research has shown that the biblical factor is the main contributor as to why the church has silenced women up till now. Texts like 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 and 1Timothy 2:11-12 have been used to oppress women from exercising their godly given leadership gifts and skills. This is why a new theory of interpreting the Word of God has been suggested in this dissertation. It is called the “Multi-dimensional Approach”. This new approach1 will be achieved by rereading the Scriptures through three aspects, namely, the literary, social-historical and theological-rhetorical aspects. The researcher remains optimistic that through this process of re-reading the texts, the Chewa culture and missionary history, as well as people’s mindsets, attitudes and beliefs will change in favour of women leadership. This research sought to answer the following questions: (1) To what extent are historical and cultural factors, and particularly factors pertaining to the interpretation of the Bible, responsible for the lack of women in leadership positions in the CCAP Nkhoma Synod? (2) Complex as it may be to explore and measure the impact of these factors, would it be possible to substantiate and verify such influences empirically? (3) Once this has been done, would it for instance be possible to identify alternative readings of history, culture and the Bible? These three questions were very crucial in that they guided the researcher to know the real problem and how this problem can be solved.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: “Laat staan haar,” het Jesus gesê. “Waarom maak julle dit vir haar moeilik?” Sy het ʼn goeie daad aan my gedoen... Dit verseker Ek julle: Oral waar die evangelie in die hele wêreld verkondig word, sal daar ook vertel word wat sy gedoen het, tot herinnering van haar.” (Mark 14:6, 9). Dit is die manier waarop Jesus na vroue gekyk het, met dankbaarheid, waardigheid en respek. Ongelukkig is vroue dikwels sleg behandel, teen gediskrimineer en selfs onderdruk deur manspersone, net omdat hulle as vroue gebore is. Menige vrou het haarself al gevra, “Waarom is ek as vrou gebore?” Vrae soos hierdie het die navorser gemotiveer om hierdie studie te onderneem. Die doel van hierdie navorsing is: (1) Om deur ʼn literatuurstudie die faktore wat tot die desperate situasie van vroue leierskap in die CCAP Nkhoma Sinode bygedra het, te ondersoek. (2) In empiriese navorsing onder lede van die sogenaamde Chigwirizano cha amai (vroue groep), ouderlinge en predikante van verskillende gemeentes van die Sinode te doen. (3) Om ʼn nuwe model vir die lees en interpreteer van die Nuwe Testament met die oog daarop om die probleem van die afwesigheid van vroue in posisies van leierskap in die CCAP Nkhoma Sinode te ontwikkel. Die navorsing het getoon dat vroue in die CCAP Nkhoma Sinode uit posisies van leierskap gehou word as gevolg van historiese, kulturele en Bybelse faktore. Histories het die eerste Nederlandse sendelinge wat na Malawi gekom het ʼn patriargale vorm van leierskap gevestig wat vroue van die begin af uitgesluit het. In kulturele verband is daar gevind dat die mense hulle tradisionele kulturele oortuigings ook in die kerk ingedra het, soos dat die man verhewe is bo die vrou, magtig en in beheer, terwyl vroue as swakker beskou word, minderwaardig en passief. Met behulp van Sosiale Identiteitsteorie is gevind dat hierdie oortuigings en handelinge van mans dat hulle meerderwaardig en beter as vroue is, deur aspekte soos self-kategorisering en stereotipering beïnvloed is. Dit beteken onder andere dat die moment wat mans hulleself as predikante en ouderlinge kategoriseer, hulle onmiddellik hulleself met ander groepe vergelyk, in die geval die Chigwirizano cha amai. Dit dra tot verdere stereotipering van vroue by, naamlik dat hulle swak en magteloos is en daarom nie vir posisies van leierskap geskik is nie. Die navorsing het getoon dat die faktor wat die grootste bydrae gelewer het tot die rede waarom die kerk die vroue se stemme stil gemaak het, verband hou met die wyse waarop die Bybel gelees word. Tekste soos 1 Kor 14:34-35 en 1 Tim 2:11-12 is dikwels gebruik om vroue daarvan te weerhou om hulle God-gegewe gawes van leierskap te ontwikkel en uit te leef. Dit is waarom ʼn nuwe model vir die interpretasie van die Skrif voorgestel word, wat uit literêre, sosiohistoriese en teologies-retoriese aspekte bestaan. Die navorser bly hoopvol dat deur ʼn herlees van die tekste die Chewa kultuur en missionêre verlede, asook die ingesteldheid van mense, hulle houdings en oortuigings ten gunste van vroue in posisies van leierskap sal verander. Die navorsing het gepoog om die volgende vrae te beantwoord: (1) Tot watter mate het historiese en kulturele faktore en dan spesifiek faktore wat met die interpretasie van die Bybel verband hou, tot die gebrek aan vroue in posisies van leierskap in die CCAP Nkhoma Sinode, bygedra? (2) Om ondersoek te doen tot watter mate hierdie faktore ook deur middel van empiriese navorsing bevestig kon word, wel bewus van die kompleksiteit van die situasie. (3) Om op grond van laasgenoemde ondersoekend te kyk na moontlike alternatiewe maniere waarop die geskiedenis, die kultuur en die Bybel gelees kan word? Hierdie drie vrae was voortdurend in die gedagtes van die navorser en het die dryfkrag gegee in die navorser se soeke na die onderliggende redes wat tot die sentrale probleem bygedra het.

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