Original Research

The relevance and necessity of contextualising theological education and ministerial formation in South Africa

Jonathan M. Womack, Graham Duncan, Jerry Pillay
Verbum et Ecclesia | Vol 41, No 1 | a2059 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ve.v41i1.2059 | © 2020 Jonathan M. Womack, Graham Duncan, Jerry Pillay | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 14 October 2019 | Published: 20 April 2020

About the author(s)

Jonathan M. Womack, Department of Church History and Polity, Faculty of Theology, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa
Graham Duncan, Department of Church History and Polity, Faculty of Theology, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa
Jerry Pillay, Department of Church History and Polity, Faculty of Theology, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa


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Abstract

Theology is never performed in a vacuum. One’s context impacts on theology and life. Local peculiarities have a huge impact on the needs and expectations of individuals and society at large. Ignoring the local context can have a detrimental impact on the development of ministerial formation. Church history practised in the 21st century can no longer afford to be ‘Eurocentric’ and cut off from wider socio-economic development. This article analysed some of the key challenges ministerial formation in contemporary South Africa faces. Its primary focus is ministerial formation. Through this focus, the disciplines of history of Christianity, church polity, missiology and systematic theology are implicitly referred to. This article challenged the current discourse on ministerial formation to be aware of contextual dynamics and to avoid oversimplification of the matter. This task was achieved through a comparative methodology through a narrative analysis of aspects of society considered to relate directly to ministerial formation. These phenomena were grouped into those that are ‘new’ to democratic South Africa and those that have remained since the dawn of democracy. Although current discourses have tended to focus on aspects of change or continuation, this article concluded by highlighting how both change and continuation need to be taken into consideration. This research showed that South Africa presents a dynamic context in which ministerial formation is to take place. Only when the dynamic context of contemporary South Africa is truly taken into consideration can effective development to ministerial formation occur.

Intradisciplinary and/or interdisciplinary implications: This work, focussing on contemporary South Africa, identifies the necessity of including a contextual awareness in ministerial formation. It involves the disciplines of history of Christianity, church polity, missiology and systematic theology. It challenges the current discourse on its awareness of contextual dynamics and to avoid oversimplification of the matter.


Keywords

theology; contextual; Africanisation; contextualisation; ministerial formation; theological education; change and continuation

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