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The Approach of the Institute for Diaconal Studies

The science of diaconal studies is closely linked to the early history of Christianity. This history contains motives and criteria which can stimulate social action and communication today. New problems require diaconal work to be re-oriented toward the Christian ethos, and in its work on these problems this ethos is adapted and renewed. In this way, components of the Christian ethos regain relevance as "leading criteria" or "motivating factors". These criteria aim at structuring and determining the value of social work.

For example:

  • Solidarity and responsibility for our fellow human beings. Only if humanity is united, can it find salvation (cf. Mt 5:23f)
  • Calling for liberty and independence through emancipation from the heteronomical handling of the "law" and the constraints of the environment (Gal 3:23 - 5:1)
  • Service in place of our dominance over each other and instead of violence (Mk 10:42f)
  • Help for the weak and helpless through the establishment of law. God determines his being as a "diaconal being" (cf. e.g. Ps. 82). God "defines" the rules for being God; He refuses to be called God or to be the father of mankind if the needs of the poor, widows, orphans and sick are not addressed.
  • Love is said to be the sum of all criteria, which together might not form a "program" but nevertheless result in effective regulations for the orientation of activities in the social context.

Simply understanding such directive criteria does not imply that we have the power to affect their realization. Rather it is the motifs which lend the strength required for such realization.

Some examples of such motifs which are implied in faith could include the following:

  • Believe in divine forgiveness includes the fact that each person should forgive his or her fellow human beings. This is biblically expressed by the command simultaneously to love God and one's neighbour.
  • From an eschatological perspective we see that all actions and achievements are temporary. They are uncertain and dependant upon a completion which is not accessible to us.
  • This strengthens our conviction that the ways of human life do not lead into senselessness. Rather our goal is participation in the life of God, just as this participation was realized through God's incarnation in Jesus Christ.
  • In regard to the way we understand ourselves and the way we lead our lives, our liberation from the law means freedom from the need to defend ourselves and to realize our own actualization. In this way we learn to accept our own humanity and that of our fellow human beings, and to accept our joint responsibility for creation.
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Latest Revision: 2012-11-01
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