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Date of Award

6-18-2004

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Doctor of Ministry (DMin)

Department

Divinity College

Supervisor

Gary Badeoek

Language

English

Abstract

Deacon as Sacrament considers the identity of the deacon from a biblical, historical and theological perspective as well as from the experiences of deacons themselves. The findings drawn from this descriptive study contribute to an understanding of diaconal identity and provide a framework from which diaconal programs are able to develop the means to assist deacon candidates with incorporating the meaning of sacrament. The thesis project was prompted by two distinct opinions concerning the identity of the deacon. Should the deacon be considered a symbol, a concrete expression of the diakonia of Christ or as a service provider? According to the literature review both opinions were given equal support. Nevertheless, the descriptive portion of the study suggested that the identity of a deacon should not be restricted simply to a person authorized to perform certain functions. While the study discovered that certain duties and functions had been delegated to the sacred office of deacon, it also found that the Church restored the permanent diaconate as a means of acquiring a visible and concrete sign of the Church's diakonia in the world. While these two descriptions of diaconal identity are supported within various Church documents, there is sufficient evidence to conclude that the sacramental role is critical to understanding diaconal identity. As a result, it is the author's thesis that the emphasis on function obscures a deacon's sacramental role. While the study demonstrated there was ample support for this conclusion, it also addressed the manner in which one merges the specific functions assigned to the sacred office with the responsibility of being a light for the world. Here the incarnational, sacramental and ministerial theologies advanced by Karl Barth, Eduard Schillebeeckx and Hans urs Von Balthasar were helpful. The work of these scholars provided not only a basis from which to consider how one might encounter Christ in another, but also illustrated how one could become a living testimony of Christ.

McMaster University Library

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