Original Research

Kenmerke van ’n kerkorde van betekenis vir ’n geloofsgemeenskap in ’n postmoderne konteks, met spesifieke verwysing na die werk van Zygmunt Bauman

Dewald H. Davel, Johan M. van der Merwe
Verbum et Ecclesia | Vol 38, No 1 | a1617 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ve.v38i1.1617 | © 2017 Dewald H. Davel, Johan M. van der Merwe | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 14 April 2016 | Published: 28 March 2017

About the author(s)

Dewald H. Davel, Nederduitse Gereformeerde Kerk, Molteno, South Africa
Johan M. van der Merwe, Department of Church History, University of Pretoria, South Africa


Characteristics of church ordinances with meaning for faith communities in a postmodern context, with spesific reference to the work of Zygmunt Bauman. Postmodernity changed the function, content and structures of church ordinances. This is a reality that cannot be denied by faith communities. New possibilities arise. Every ‘absolute truth’ can be formulated in a different way. Multiple truths suggest multiple possibilities. Plurality does not create chaos and risks anymore, but implies richness. Success and achievement have become relative to relations and the meaning of relationships. Individuals and small groups have discovered their own worth and identity. The disgust for rules has become the energy for the venture into new meaning. According to Bauman, the choice for humanity, including the church, is between ethics and morality. The individual’s responsibility to every Other is clear. Respect for diversity is the challenge. A new search for identity and meaning, as found in relationships is what characterises our time. Rules will not be of any help; the understanding of every Other’s story is important. The concepts to take into consideration are meaning, integrity, relativity, diversity, communication, justice and identity. A church ordinance of meaning should have the following characteristics: room for experimentation, complementary straights, room for people to be heard, authority carried by truth, a liturgical character, minimum geographical limits, room for diversity, structures that serve and an open view on offices.

Intradisciplinary and/or interdisciplinary implications: The study identify new arguments in the debate regarding the formulation and implimentation of a church-order. In the current context of postmodernity, where power and instruments of power are challenged, the debate regarding church polity finds itself at a critical point. The study suggests that the current definitions and models of church-orders are not beneficial to the church regarding her mission in the world anymore. The researcher is of the opinion that the changes suggested, are possible and needed. The academic discipline of church polity will have to take note of these, in order to stay relevant in a postmodern context. In formulating the arguments, the researcher made use of sosiological perspectives.


betekenis; diversiteit; kerkorde; kerkreg; postmoderniteit; relativiteit; strukture; voorskrifte


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