Egyház itt és most

Kádár, Ferenc
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Summary The present doctoral thesis has been written on the discipline of “ecclesiastics”, traditionally called scientia ecclesiastica. This discipline belongs to the field of practical theology and deals with the theme of ecclesia, the church, from a practical theological point of view. What does this special aspect mean? Practical theology – including ecclesiastics – views the Christian church here-and-now. It does not examine the essence of the church (as it is done by dogmatic ecclesiology), nor does it deal with the history or the institutes of the church (as it is done by church history and canonical law). It studies the actual existence and concrete functions of the church. It is interested in presenting the church as a real and actual entity that can be examined in its earthly context. The question of reality is one of the main questions of ecclesiastics. In describing the concrete life and work of the church, this discipline must follow the way the Bible describes reality. In the Bible facts and events are portrayed in a very natural way. Reality and truth are one and the same thing. The Old Testament has no special word for reality, because words like truth or trustworthiness are expressive enough. The New Testament uses αλήθεια for both reality and truth. The Biblical concept of reality has a twofold meaning. On the one hand, it means the world of senses and physical perception; on the other hand, it means what „beyond” is, that is, the realm of God, reality perceived by faith. When the New Testament describes the reality of ecclesia, one can find in this picture the physical reality and needs of the local congregations, but one can also perceive the spiritual reality of the universal church. This description is concrete, moreover practical, but not merely empirical. It always represents the aspect of faith. This biblical concept of reality determines the Reformational concept of the church. In Luther’s ecclesiology there is the image of God’s holy nation, which opens this doctrine to the everyday life of the church. Calvin’s ecclesiology, first of all in Book IV of his Institution, can be called congregation-theology, because it is so practical and „ministerium”-oriented. Dealing with the theme of the church within practical theology, we must rely on the Biblical foundations and should follow the practical church-concept of the Reformation. Ecclesiastics is a uniquely Hungarian theological phenomenon. Its foundations were laid at the beginning of the 20th century by the famous Hungarian preacher, bishop and practical theologian László Ravasz. His theological legacy was developed by Dezső László, Sándor Makkai and Lajos Imre in the ‘30s and ‘40s of the century. It was a time when the church was urged by the Lord of history to define itself anew. These authors introduced ecclesiastics as the chief discipline in the system of practical theology, and elaborated its theoretical and practical themes at a high level. They related all the other branches of practical theology, like homiletics, liturgics, etc. to this main discipline. According to their concept, ecclesiastics was the “biology”, an organic examination of the life and life-functions of ecclesia. It confronts the here-and-now church with Biblical and confessional standards and norms. Since that time ecclesiastics has been pushed into the background and has become an underestimated discipline. However, since the political changes of the 1990s, the Lord of history has brought a new time and a new need of self-identification for the church. This time may bring renewal for ecclesiastics. It is for this purpose also that this doctoral thesis has been written. What are the possibilities and criteria of studying this discipline today? If one examines the practical theology of the West in the last decades, one cannot find a self-contained and well-developed practical study of the church. One can find movements among disciplines, like ecclesiology, missiology, church-sociology and of course practical theology. Following the complexity of the nature of ecclesia, each discipline is eager to grasp the church as a whole, as a physical and spiritual reality. And beyond these interdisciplinary movements there are outstanding attempts to create an adequate practical church-concept, like Eberhard Hübner’s functional ecclesiology, Reiner Preul’s Kirchentheorie (church theory), or Johannes A. van der Ven’s ecclesiology in context. However, one can not find a complete, hence theologically and practically developed discipline which can be a parallel of Hungarian ecclesiastics. We should preserve our heritage by an up-to-date pursuit of this discipline, since it can provide a better description and understanding of ecclesia here-and-now. Ecclesiastics is open towards other disciplines, it approves impulses from ecclesiology, missiology and other sciences, as well as of public life and communication of the church. The themes of ecclesiastics are divided into three parts. First is the introduction that explains the name, definition, history and aims of the discipline. Second is the theoretical (or general) part, summarising the features of a practical theological church-concept: the Biblical and creedal marks of the church; ecclesia as God’s property; the church being en route; and the aims of the actual/present reality of the church. Third is the practical (or special) part, which describes a particular church, the Reformed Church of Hungary, going into details about the norms and forms of its actual life and life-functions (koinonia, marturia, katechesis, diakonia). Ecclesiastics as a church-centred discipline precedes and establishes the work of the ministry-centred practical theological disciplines (homiletics, liturgics, etc.), and by doing so, it provides a comprehensive and realistic church-vision, which is indispensable for students of theology.
teológia, Theology