AN AFRICAN UNDERSTANDING OF THE CHURCH ANDTHE HEALTH AND SICKNESS PHENOMENA

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CHAPTER 2 A CHRISTIAN MINISTRY TO THE SICK IN THE HERVORMDE KERK FAMILY

Introduction

It has been indicated in chapter 1 that the ministry to the sick as articulated and practised in the Hervormde Kerk Family is lacking in relevance and therefore lacking in efficacy within the African context. The reason for that situation is the fact that the Hervormde Kerk Family’s ministry to the sick does not take into account, the African world-view. As a result some Black African members of the Hervormde Kerk in Suidelike Afrika do not get helped in their crises even by means of the best pastoral care and counselling and Western medical approaches because the services do not address their existential problems. It has been pointed out that these members find themselves having to seek cure, protection and healing from African traditional healers and AIC prophets. This problem leads to lack of trust in the power of God as represented by this family of churches and of sufficient faith maturity and numerical growth in the Hervormde Kerk in Suidelike Afrika. According to Zerfass (Heyns in Heyns & Pieterse 1990:36, Theron 2000:194) when such a problem is identified, serious investigation must be launched starting with a thorough search into the traditional theological theory which is the origin of praxis 1 which has become problematic (cf. 1.11.2.1 above). The assumption is that the traditional theological theory has thus far provided the context within which these churches’ praxis was initiated, nurtured and sustained. The traditional theological theory is without doubt responsible for the provision of principles through which these churches’ praxis was and still is guided and sustained. It is therefore understandable why it should be the first area of concern for the requisite investigation. In this chapter I therefore examine the Christian ministry to the sick as a component of the ministry in general within the context of the Hervormde Kerk Family. I start with the clarification of the concept “Hervormde Kerk Family”. From there the Reformation principles are offered with brief explanation to offer a suitable background. I will subsequently proceed to describe the understanding of the ministry in general and ministry to the sick in particular as articulated and practised in the Hervormde Kerk Family. Principles that govern reflection on and practice of ministry to the sick will then be examined. I will further describe the view of health and
sickness from the perspective of the Hervormde Kerk Family and examine strategies employed by this family of churches to minister to the sick.

Clarifying the concept “Hervormde Kerk Family” (HKF)

According to Zerfass (Heyns in Heyns & Pieterse 1990:36) church history is a component of the theological tradition. I therefore also explore the history of the Hervormde Kerk in Suidelike Afrika in brief. The history of the Hervormde Kerk in Suidelike Afrika cannot be complete without consideration of the role of the Nederduitsch Hervormde Kerk van Afrika. I therefore, instead of referring only to the Hervormde Kerk in Suidelike Afrika, refer to the Hervormde Kerk Family. The Hervormde Kerk Family in South Africa cosists of two Reformed churches, namely the Nederduitsch Hervormde Kerk van Afrika (hereafter the NHKA) and the Hervormde Kerk in Suidelike Afrika (hereafter the HKSA). This should inform us as to the extent of the influence of the NHKA, which is a White church and therefore operating from the perspective of the Western world-view, on the HKSA which is a black church which is supposed to operate from the African world-view in its ministry. The following paragraphs give an overview of the history of the Hervormde Kerk Family.The relationship started when on 22 January1923 Evangelist Andrew Sililo Mlaba who led a breakaway group from the Free Church of Scotland sought affiliation to the Nederduitsch Hervormde Kerk of Natal. Banda (1996:63) states that Mlaba and his followers approached the NHK of Natal to seek “protection and membership”. Van der Westhuizen (1990:24) notes that Mlaba’s move was inspired by the news he had read in the newspaper about the Christian spirit that prevailed in the NHK of Natal. Banda (1996:64-66) explains the importance of “protection” or “recognition” that Mlaba sought from the NHK of Natal. This “protection” or “recognition” was in fact a favour that a recognised white mainline church would give a breakaway Black church group, in order for that church to gain government permission to operate legitimately. This was important because of the government’s strict measures preventing the increase of African Independent Churches which were viewed as instigators of political rebellions (like the Bambata Rebellion of 1906 in Natal and the Bulhoek tragedy of 1921 in the Eastern Cape).The relationship was later formalised through the work of the Mission Commission of the NHK of Natal. According to Banda (1996:63), the church council of the NHK of Natal, deliberating on the matter appointed a Mission Commission to investigate the matter after which the Zulu congregation was accepted as the “mission” church of the NHK of Natal. The Mission Commission went on to legitimise Andrew Mlaba as the native minister of the church (Van der Westhuizen 1990:25, Banda 1996:63). On 23
April 1923 the Mission Commission convened a meeting with the Zulu congregation of Ev. Mlaba. At this meeting it was unanimously decided that the congregation’s mission work was to resort under the NHK of Natal. Andrew Sililo Mlaba was subsequently ordained by Rev. Smit and Rossouw and issued with the induction certificate by the actuary of the NHK of Natal. According to van der Westhuizen, the Zulu congregation was organised as an autonomous church under the supervision of the NHK of Natal. The church was initially called the Zulu Hervormde Zending Kerk Gemeente Lufafa (Zulu Reformed Mission Church –
Lufafa Congregation). In November 1924 the NHK of Natal approached the NHKA with the request for incorporation (Banda 1996:66), a process that was finalised on 31 January 1925. It
was on 01 February 1925 that the NHK of Natal was officially incorporated into the NHKA (Van der Westhuizen 1990:24). Banda (1996:66) notes that the name of the NHK of Natal was changed to Pietermaritzburg congregation of the NHKA. This move ushered in, a new period with new problems for the Pietermaritzburg congregation of the NHKA. The burning issue was whether the NHKA would take the mission responsibility over the Zulu Hervormde Zending Kerk (ZHZK) which was until then the responsibility of the NHK of Natal. It meant that new arrangements hadto be made as to the situation of the ZHZK since the NHK of Natal had officially become an integral part of the NHKA. The challenge of NHKA to adopt the mission work over the ZHZK proved to be very problematic.
CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION
1.1 Orientation 
1.2 Research problem 
1.2.1 Sickness constitutes a serious threat in Africa
1.2.2 The challenge of sickness to African Christian ministry
1.3 Problem statement
1.3.1 The problem of world-view
1.3.2 The church’s disregard of Christ’s healing commission
1.3.3 Perceptions that block the healing ministry practice
1.3.3.1 We want to have nothing to do with faith healing
1.3.3.2 My sickness is a cross sent from God
1.3.3.3 Only saints can do miracles, not ordinary men and women
1.3.3.4 We do not need signs and wonders; we have faith
1.3.3.5 Miracles only represent a primitive expression of reality
1.3.3.6 Further perceptions that led to rejection of the Christian healing ministry
1.4 Consequences of the neglect of the African world-view 
1.5 Personal experiences 
1.6 The need for a theological rethinking 
1.7 Practical theology
1.7.1 A general orientation
1.7.2 Definitions of Practical Theology
1.7.3 Practical theological approaches in South Africa
1.7.3.1 The confessional approach
1.7.3.2 The correlative approach
1.7.3.3 The contextual approach
1.7.4 Evaluation of the South African practical theological approaches
1.7.4.1 Evaluating the confessional approach
1.7.4.2 Evaluating the correlative approach
1.7.4.3 Evaluating the contextual approach
1.7.5 The practical theological approach chosen for the current thesis
1.8 Research assumptions 
1.9 Research question 
1.10 Research aims
1.11 Methodology 
1.11.1 Zerfass’ methodological model
1.11.2 A brief description of the workings of Zerfass’ model
1.11.2.1 Diagrammatic presentation
1.11.2.2 Explanation
1.12 An outline of the thesis 
CHAPTER 2 A CHRISTIAN MINISTRY TO THE SICK IN THE HERVORMDE KERK FAMILY
2.1 Introduction 
2.2 Clarifying the concept “Hervormde Kerk Family” (HKF) 
2.3 Reformation principles and the church’s self-understanding
2.3.1 A brief sketch of the Reformed view of the church
2.3.2 The Reformed view of the true church
2.4 Understanding the ministry of the Hervormde Kerk in Suidelike Afrika in general 
2.4.1 The shepherd metaphor
2.4.2 Further terms used to extricate the meaning and function of the ministry
2.4.2.1 Episkopein
2.4.2.2 Parakalein
2.4.2.3 Nouthetein
2.4.2.4 Katartidzein
2.4.2.5 Oikodomein
2.5 The view of ministry to the sick in the Hervormde Kerk Family
2.5.1 An overview
2.5.2 Ministry as defined in the Hervormde Kerk Family
2.5.3 Pastoral care to the sick in the Hervormde Kerk Family
2.6 Theological principles governing special pastoral care in the Hervormde Kerk Family, their significance and authority 
2.7 Views of health and sickness 
2.7.1 What is health?
2.7.2 The view of sickness in the Hervormde Kerk Family
2.8 Strategies employed to minister to the sick in the Hervormde Kerk Family 
2.8.1 An overview
2.8.2 Visit to the sick in homes and at hospital
2.8.3 The content of the task of visiting the sick
2.8.4 The church’s ministry in hospital
2.8.5 Evaluation
CHAPTER 3 AN AFRICAN UNDERSTANDING OF THE CHURCH ANDTHE HEALTH AND SICKNESS PHENOMENA
3.1 Introduction 
3.2 The African traditional religions as a source and point of departure 
3.3 The African world-view and reflection on the concept “world-view” 
3.3.1 The African world-view is holistic
3.3.2 The African world-view is characterised by strong community bonds
3.3.3 The African world-view has a dynamism and vitalism
3.3.4 The African world-view has a heightened sense of the sacred
3.3.5 The African world-view is characterised by anthropocentrism
3.4 The African understanding of the concept “church” 
3.5 The belief in ancestors, its implications and impact on descendants 
3.6 The concept “health” in African perspective 
3.6.1 The definition of and reflection on “health” in Africa
3.6.2 The significance of health among Africans
3.7 The African view of illness 
3.7.1 A description of illness as viewed in Africa
3.7.2 Causes of illness in Africa, especially witchcraft and sorcery
3.8 Healing
3.9 Conduct of members of the Hervormde Kerk in Suidelike Africa in the face of illness/misfortune 
3.10 Evaluation 
CHAPTER 4 THE HEALTH AND ILLNESS CHALLENGE TO THE MINISTRY OF THE HERVORMDE KERK FAMILY
4.1 Introduction 
4.2 The issue of world-view
4.2.1 Characteristics of the Western world-view
4.2.1.1 The Western world-view is naturalistic
4.2.1.2 Materialism dominates the Western world-view
4.2.1.3 Western society is humanistic
4.2.1.4 Reason has become the primary way of understanding reality
4.2.1.5 Western world-view highly values individualism and independence
4.2.1.6 Westerners tend to be open to change
4.2.2 Western and African world-views: a critical comparative reflection and highlight of basic beliefs underlying the two world-views
4.3 Reformation principles and their possible influence on the Hervormde Kerk in Suidelike Afrika’s attitude towards the healing ministry 
4.3.1 The principle of Sola Scriptura
4.3.2 The principle of Sola Fide
4.3.3 The principle of Sola Gratia
4.4 Reformed understanding of the concept “church” in relation to the African understanding of the same concept
4.4.1 The significance of beliefs of some AICs
4.4.2 Is it ideal for the Hervormde Kerk in Suidelike Afrika to adopt
AICs’ approach?
4.5 A resume of the Reformed understand of the ministry to the sick 
4.6 The Hervormde Kerk Family’s understanding of her ministry to the sick 
4.7 Reflection on possible reasons for the rejection of the healing ministry
4.7.1 Healing ministry-disabling factors in the Reformed tradition
4.7.2 Disabling factors in the African church for a theologically sound ministry
4.8 The Nederduitsch Hervormde Kerk van Afrika’s awareness and identification of the need for the church’s healing ministry in the Hervormde Kerk in Suidelike Afrika 
4.9 The healing mission of the church 
4.10 An evaluation of the dialogue and the way forward 
CHAPTER 5 THE REFORMED CHURCH’S HEALING MINISTRY IN AFRICA
5.1 Introduction
5.2 The Afro-Christian framework 
5.2.1 The term “Afro-Christian”
5.2.2 The rationale for the use of the term “Afro-Christian”
5.2.3 Patriarchy as an obstacle in the way to a healthy healing ministry
5.2.4 Deconstructing patriarchy for the sake of the church’s healing ministry
5.3 From the provisional conclusion to a new theological theory 
5.3.1 The importance of human solidarity in the healing ministry
5.3.2 The indispensability of human contact with God for health
5.3.3 The dependence of healing upon God’s will
5.3.4 The mystery of healing
5.3.5 God has great concern for human well being
5.3.6 Human sickness and healing know no discrimination
5.3.7 The close connection between human illness and personal and social evil
5.3.8 Healing is an act of compassion, love and sympathy
5.3.9 Healing in Africa is a holistic concern
5.3.10 The twofold concern as characteristic of Jesus’ healing ministry
5.3.11 Healing is a present as well as an eschatological reality
5.3.12 Evaluation
5.4 Developing a new theological theory
5.4.1 Healing is a necessary component of the African church’s ministry
5.4.2 The new practical theological theory has healing as central component
5.5 Guidelines for ministry in Africa
5.5.1 A new appreciation of the efficacy of Christ’s power over evil spiritual forces.
5.5.2 A new emphasis on the role of the Holy Spirit and the present mediatory efficacy of the Living Christ
5.5.3 A new emphasis on the omnipresence of God and the subsequent Sacramental nature of the universe
5.6 Landscaping the envisaged church’s healing ministry 
5.6.1 An overview
5.6.2 The church’s healing ministry must embody the African communal system.
5.6.3 The rites of anointing the sick, laying on of hands, exorcism and music
5.6.3.1 The rite of anointing the sick
5.6.3.2 The laying on of hands
5.6.3.3 Exorcism
5.6.3.4 Song and music and their therapeutic value
5.7 The church’s healing ministry in practice
5.7.1 Facilitation of the healing ministry in the Hervormde Kerk Family
5.7.2 The composition of the healing ministry team
5.7.3 The functions of the healing ministry team
5.7.4 The modus operandi of the proposed healing ministry
5.7.5 The healing service procedure
5.8 Conclusion
5.9 Recommendations for further research 
Appendix 1 
Appendix 2 
BIBLIOGRAPHY 

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