The two sides of faith practice are "Faith indeed in deeds" and, in the opposite direction, "There are no deeds void of faith".
- From the divine revelation in Exodus 3:14, אֶהְיֶה אֲשֶׁר אֶהְיֶה (translatable as "I shall be [for you] who I shall be [for you]"),
- To the injunction in James 2:18, κἀγώ σοι δείξω ἐκ τῶν ἔργων μου τὴν πίστιν (translatable as "And I shall show to you from my works the faith"),
- To fides quaerens intellectum (St. Anselm's influential 11th century summary of Theology as "faith seeking understanding"),
- To, as an apt local instance, Zion Christain Church founder Engenas Barnabas Lekganyane's famous saying, Tumelo ya go hloka mediro e bodile (“Faith without deeds is rotten")...
... from all these, and more, we know that faith is a verb.
Equally so, be that from the ancient theologies of relation and salvation and more, to the modern theologies of fairness and beauty and more, we know that our very existence is drenched in faith. This is as naturally the case in the same way that our human existence is drenched in physics, chemistry, language, technique, thoughts and images. To be, to do and not to do is to believe. Faith — confessed or implied, acknowledged or denied — is a clear and present aspect in how we see, in what we see and hence, in how we act.
It is these concrete aspects of faith that are studied in the Department of Practical Theology and Mission Studies, in various ways:
- The impulses of faith working in, within and from individuals, groups, churches, societies,
- Which characterise how we live, love and serve,
- Within churches, in the practices of individuals in the world, in the way we make sense of life in its great diversity of experiences.
Whether it is the art of constructing a sermon, the care of a pastoral conversation, assistance to an individual or a group, the influences of Christianity in hearts, minds and cultures — those are the aspects of life that we study in this department. We do therefore actively aim to train the best: contextually relevant yet globally aware ministers / pastors / priests, as much as the students that we train for a host of other careers, callings and interests. Thoughtful and care-full lives, en route... The parable of the Good Samaritan knows no limitations.
We do so not in any form of isolation. We are constantly in interaction with the other theological disciplines and with other sciences. The latter often includes the Humanities (such Philosophy, Psychology, Social Work, Sociology), but also Natural Sciences, Law, Economics, Music and more...
'There is nothing more practical than a good theory,' wrote German-American psychologist Kurt Lewin. Perhaps that can be adapted somewhat to read: There is nothing more useful than good theology. Poor theologies are plentiful; however, good, useful theology takes hard work. We confess that faith is gained not by works, but by grace alone; equally so: good theology is gained not by grace alone, but by hard work too.
Do come join us in our quest, as we continually explore this world of believing-and-doing...
Prof Christo Lombaard
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