Theologia vitae

Volume 5 (year 2015), issue 2

Education in Church

    A Role of Catechism in the Czech Reformation
    (Tomáš Butta)

This article reviews catechisms of the period between Jan Hus (c. 1370–1415) and Jan Amos Comenius (1592–1670) in five chapters. The first chapter characterizes conditions in Late Scholasticism. The second chapter portrays Jan Hus as an exceptional educator who wrote many writings in Czech between 1412 and 1414 designed mainly for adults: Exposition of the Apoctolic Creed, Lord’s prayer and Decalogue; Concerning the knowledge of the true way of Salvation [Dcerka]; Threefold Cord [Provázek třípramenný]; The Alphabet; and what is known as Vienna Catechism, and Essentials of Christian teaching [Jádro učení křesťanského]. Hus encompasses medieval doctrinal content with pedagogic tools frequent at the time of Reformation. The third chapter speaks about the Unity of the Brethren (Unitas fratrum) which developed a unique educational system. Luke of Prague, Bishop of the Brethren (c. 1460–1528), in his Questions to the Children [Otázky dětinské] arranges the content around the three key elements: faith, love, and hope. The Brethren divided church members into three groups: beginner, advanced, developed. The catechism was designed for the beginners. The fourth chapter maps the condition in Bohemia before the Thirty Years’ War (1618–1648). There were at that time numerous catechisms in Latin or in Czech belonging to Roman Catholics or Utraquists as well as Czech or German catechisms of the Brethren or of the Reformation churches in Europe. In this period, Brethren catechisms departed from the faith-love-hope approach and adopted the outline of Luther's catechism. The last chapter confirms that Jan Amos Comenius held the Hussite and Brethren tradition. On the other hand in his educational writings and in the General Consultation on an Improvement of All Things Human [Obecná porada], he prefers Bible as a textbook and leans toward the outline of the Bible story.

    Pastoral Authority in the Perspective of the Reformation
     An Overview

    (David Beňa)

The essay Pastoral authority in the perspective of the Reformation presents the pastoral ministry as it was shaped in the German and Swiss Reformation, namely in their prominent confessions, Augustana and Helvetica Posterior. The survey is lead by questions, what are the foundations of the Protestant pastoral office, what are its duties as well as its limits, and in what sense it actually was re-formed. The pastoral office is in service of “media salutis”, the Word and the Sacrament, known as “the Keys”. Michel Foucault’s genealogical analysis of “pastoral power” and “governmentality” combined with the story of traditional exegesis of Matth. 16 and 18 by Bernhard Rothen sheds new light on a shift of the pastoral office during the Reformation from the introspective-confessional- -sacramental idea to the homiletical-educational concept of the pastoral office.

    Exercising Authority by Pastors
    (Pavel Černý)

The use of Pastor’s authority is influenced by our culture. Volker Kessler defends this thesis in his article published in 2013. Many people underestimate the influence of culture and fall into two pitfalls. One pitfall is in their personal approach and attempt to justify it by the Bible, and the second pitfall is in following some of contemporary models that they see on every page of the Bible. The author of this article brings arguments against some available books concerning church leadership and their simplified application. The Bible contains principles. Their application in a particular culture is the challenge to all of us. The key principle of Jesus ministry is the conduct of servanthood and Apostle Paul’s paradox: power through weakness. Corruption of power is diagnosed e.g. by the misuse of con- fessional seal, willfulness in interpretation of the Scripture and overstepping of pastoral principles. These examples help to apply instructions given to Timothy. This article results in calling to servanthood approach and humble attitude toward others which provide legitimacy to the spiritual authority.

    Baptism Classes in Evangelical Churches in the Czech Republic
    (Jan Valeš, Olin Kadlec)

The article presents results of the survey of 42 evangelical churches in the Czech Republic and their way or preparing people for baptism. Manners of preparation are in focus of the survey rather than doctrinal content of it. The results are presented in six parts: Who prepares, who appoints him and who is being prepared; the length of the preparation; features of one such meeting; materials used; when is the person ready for baptism; inclusion into fellowship. In the end the article includes annotated list of the books and other materials used for baptism classes. There are several questions which the authors ask the leaders of the church: Which of the three common forms of the baptism preparation do you use in your church—1 or 2 talks about baptism, 3 to 7 meetings about Christian faith or 10 and more sessions on the Christian doctrines? Do you prepare for baptism only those who explicitly ask for it or do you offer it to a wider group of people, though only some are then baptised? Do you prefer to prepare a group, or an individual? Who is the right guide for this or that person? The survey shows that not only the ordained prepare for baptism in evangelical churches. The main qualification to lead to baptism (in the case of a not ordained person) is personal closeness. And preparation has also other pastoral aspects. The survey also shows that there is no printed material used by any larger number of churches. Another result of the survey is that in majority of cases the baptised person is already involved in a fellowship of the church.

    The Role of Authority and Limits of Confidence in Society Today
    (Markéta Sedláčková)

The article treats the role of authority in today’s society from the sociological point of view, which compares the status of authority in the traditional, modern and postmodern society. The attitude toward authority in our highly individualized society seems to be quite ambivalent: on the one side we reject authorities as a limitation of our freedom, on the other side we attach to them with an exaggerated faith and we pass our responsibilities on them. So if I reflect on authority, I consider important to distinguish between two types of relations—trust, and faith. This differentiation opens an important question of the accurate measure of expectation towards authority, the distribution of responsibility and limits of intervention of authority to personal lives of others. I point out to two extreme approaches. The first is represented by a very narrow definition of authority as a person transferring only its specialized knowledge with distancing itself from any responsibility, especially the moral responsibility. The other extreme represents the situation when the authority is “playing God” and the trusters approach an authority in a blind faith, which allows them to surrender the responsibility for their own lives to the authority.

    Solidarity of the Shaken
     The Life and Legacy of Přemysl Pitter to Our Times

    (Ludmila Muchová)

The study deals with life of a humanist and educator Přemysl Pitter mainly from the perspective of his existential war front experience. The author puts it into context of terms introduced by Czech philosopher Jan Patočka (experience of shock and solidarity of the shocked) and seeks for signs of their specific fulfilling in Pitter's life. The author suggests that interpretation of Pitter's work taken from this point of view includes a significant spiritual charge for Christians at the beginning of the 21st century: to freely follow Christ in the service to the people and God, and not to give in to fear and anxiety that the contemporary war-players raise.

    The Significance and Place of the Christian Solidarity
    in Social and Health Care

    (Katarína Kotradyová, Martin Kaľavský)

The authors offer a wider knowledge about what is solidarity, especially from a perspective of the Roman Catholic Church, and analyze the basic principles. Finally they deal with the importance of solidarity for today’s society. Authors also point out that it can not be understood only in theory. It is very important to understand that solidarity is a practical activity aimed at helping a person. It is a person who suffer material and spiritual distress, and authors focus in particular on old people, sick and dying. The authors would draw attention to the determinants of solidarity. It means that solidarity is and must come from the individual, through group, community, nation to international communities.

    The State-Related Theology of the Confessing Church
     as Understood by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

    (Ján Liguš)

The topic relates in all its parts to three periods of Bonhoeffer’s life and his theological development: The first is called Bonhoeffer-Theologian and implies parental home, childhood, study of theology, vicar practice in Barcelona and teaching at the University of Berlin (1906-1933). The second period called Bonhoeffer-Christian contains several sections and it shows how a change that Bonhoeffer experienced on a basis of personal address through the Bible, particularly the Sermon on the Mount, deeply influenced his conception of the Christian faith, the function of theology, the Church’s mission including his understanding of the relationship between church and state authority in the Confessing Church (1932-1938). Third period called Bonhoeffer-Contemporary (1939-1945) shows the theological and ethical assumptions of his involvement in a violent removal of Hitler. Also in this period, Bonhoeffer’s current understanding of his decision is based on some until this time undiscovered biblical and theological-ethical emphases. Readers will understand it only at the end of the study.

    Christian Ethics and Violence in the Old Testament:
     Hermeneutical Freedom and an Ethical Controversion

    (Richard S. Briggs)

It is no secret that sections of the Old Testament offend against common understandings of Christian morality: There are texts of terror, violence, apparent misogyny or cultural imperialism. The suspicion lingers that Christian ethics must either ignore such texts; expend considerable energy in fitting them into preferred moral frameworks; or simply discard them from consideration as out-dated and indefensible. Why one would persevere along the arduous route of working with the Old Testament for ethical insight in the first place, when so many other simpler options seem to be available in our post-Enlightenment world? We shall consider briefly four traditional approaches:

    Reading Across a Cultural Gap;
    Attending to Christian Frameworks — Theological and Moral;
    Ad Hoc Apologetics — Taking the Texts Case by Case;
    Traditional Non-Literal Readings.

In many instances real insight is offered, which is not to say that all questions are thereby resolved. Finally I offer a fifth approach to the hermeneutics of the matter which may illuminate some ways of framing what is being done in terms which make Christian theological sense, and which draws upon Paul’s handling of other matters involving offence in the New Testament: “All readings are permissible, but not all are beneficial” (1. Cor. chap. 8–10). In a Christian hermeneutics of the Old Testament Paul may give us some of the tools we need to understand how God is intending divine revelation for our good. The working thesis is: Some readings of the Old Testament texts offend, and some cause people to sin. If one’s reading of violent texts in allegorical support of non-violent modes of discipleship offends someone, then that is in the first instance problem of the offended side. But if such a reading leads someone else into sin, then hermeneutical freedom should be curtailed for the sake of the other person.


    Heidelberský katechismus
    Křesťanské učení: 129 otázek a odpovědí
    Transl. Peter Cimala, 1st ed., Praha: Návrat domů, 2013, 109 p., ISBN 978-80-7255-302-0.
(René Drápala)

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