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  • Restorative Readings: The Old Testament, Ethics, and Human Dignity
    Restorative Readings: The Old Testament, Ethics, and Human Dignity
    Pickwick Publications

    Foreword by Walter Brueggemann, my chapter is entitled 'In conversation: The Old Testament, Ethics and Human Dignity'. A superb resource edited by Julie Claassens and Bruce Birch

  • What are we thinking? Reflections on Church and Society from Southern African Methodists.
    What are we thinking? Reflections on Church and Society from Southern African Methodists.
    by Dion A Forster, Wessel Bentley
  • Methodism in Southern Africa: A celebration of Wesleyan Mission
    Methodism in Southern Africa: A celebration of Wesleyan Mission
    by Dion A Forster, Wessel Bentley
  • Christ at the centre - Discovering the Cosmic Christ in the spirituality of Bede Griffiths
    Christ at the centre - Discovering the Cosmic Christ in the spirituality of Bede Griffiths
    by Dion A Forster
  • An uncommon spiritual path - the quest to find Jesus beyond conventional Christianity
    An uncommon spiritual path - the quest to find Jesus beyond conventional Christianity
    by Dion A Forster
Transform your work life: Turn your ordinary day into an extraordinary calling. by Dion Forster and Graham Power.
Download a few chapters of the book here.

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Entries in Theology (98)

Monday
Mar262007

A theology of the ministry of an ordained Deacon in the MCSA.

One of the great joys that I have is serving as the co-ordinator of training for persons who are training towards ordination for the ministry of word and service in the MCSA.

For those who are not aware, the MCSA ordains persons to the ministry of word and sacrament (called presbyters, the are most commonly ministers of local Churches, often called by the title Reverend), and then the Church also ordains persons who are called to the ministry of word and service (these persons are addressed by the title deacon).

The ministry of word and service is an incredibly high calling that has its roots right back in the early Church of Acts. Of course it can trace its character back to the ministry of Jesus, who was perhaps the very first Christian deacon. Jesus said that he came not to be served but to serve.

Sadly, deacons are often treated like 'second class' presbyters. This is most often because they do not administer the sacraments of baptism and the eucharist. The result has been that the Convocation of the order of deacons has requested, on numerous occasions, to allow ordained deacons to preside as ministers over the sacraments (particularly the sacrament of Holy Communion). This is also a pragmatic need since deacons are most often visiting the sick, the elderly and such persons that cannot come to a regular service of worship.

However, if one were to make such a concession it would require some significant theological gymnastics to sustain a credible position in its favour. As a result I was asked to prepare a discussion / position, paper on deacons and the sacraments in the MCSA.

This paper take the point of departure that there are three co-equal ministries in the Church (taking the triune God as a point of departure). These three ministries (the ministry of the lay, the ministry of ordained presbyters and the ministry of ordained deacons) are mutually interdependent, and of equal necessity and value in achieving God's mission for the Church.

Moreover, the paper argues that the traditional translation of the Biblical Greek words diakonos (acts of service) and diakon (the one who serves) have been inaccurate. You can read the paper for the finer points of this argument. The essence is that a deacon is not only a servant (in the Biblical sense), but more particularly an 'emissary servant', one who is sent to represent the King.

Here is the paper. It will be of particular use to persons who are considering offering for the ordained ministry and are unsure of whether God is calling them to be ordained presbyters or deacons. It will also be of use to deacons and presbyters who are getting ordained this year and need to write the assignment on the uniqueness and distinctiveness of each of these forms of ministry.

Deacons and sacraments.doc (MS Word document 88 Kb). NB! Students, please use accurate references when using sources from this document!

Please pray for us as we go to the Doctrine, Ethics, and Worship Commission meetings of the MCSA this week (DEWCOM). Amongst other things we will be deliberating on Same Sex Unions, Abortion, a theology of Mission, Human Sexuality and Marriage and a host of other important doctrinal issues.

Tuesday
Dec262006

The Pope get's it right!

I am not a huge fan of Pope Benedict the XVI. In his previous position, as the Cardinal in charge of the 'Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith', he silenced many of the most progressive and sensible theologians of our time (these in include Hans Kung and Leonardo Boff).

However, there is no doubt that he is one of the most astute theologians of our time. He is well read, extremely intelligent, and has the power and authority to change trends in global theological discourse, and of course political and economic policy.

As a result I always try to read the Pope's Christmas address. I loved the central message of his address this year. I quote:

Pope Benedict said in his Christmas message on Monday that mankind [sic] [should read humankind], which has reached other planets and worships technology, cannot live without God or turn its back on the hungry.

I would encourage all my students, friends, and fellow Christians to read the superb summary on the CNN website. You can find a synopsis of Pope Benedict's message
here:

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