Details of Thesis

Title The Church as Family of God: its development and implications for the Church in Vietnam
Author Tien, Ngo Dinh
Institution Australian Catholic University
Date 2006
Abstract This thesis aims to study the development of the concept/model “the church as the family of God” and to explore its implications in terms of participation of church members and the social mission for the church in Vietnam. The discussion of the development of the ecclesiological concept helps to construct an ecclesiology of the church as the family of God in response to the call of Pope John Paul II in the Apostolic Exhortation Ecclesia in Africa (1995).It also assists the Vietnamese church in its evaluation and implication of the model of the church as family. This ecclesiological model has been promoted since the seventeenth century and emphasised since the Second Vatican Council in the church in Vietnam. The scope of this thesis studies the biblical, theological and ecclesiological development of the concept/model of the church as God’s family. It also investigates the understanding of the family and the church as family in Vietnam, the mutual relationships of church members and the characteristics of the mission of the church in the world. Then it explores the implications of the ecclesiology of the church as the family of God for the local church. A proper understanding of these issues is necessary because it helps the Vietnamese church to apply authentically the model of the church as the family of God. Chapter One discusses the biblical understanding of the family of God as the metaphor for the relationships between God and his people and among members in the church. The metaphor “the family/the household of God” was applied to the house church in early Christianity and provides some relevant implications for the church today. Chapter Two examines the theological foundations of the concept in patristic writings, in the liturgy and in church documents. Chapter Three explores the components of an ecclesiology of the church as the family of God which include trinitarian, Basic Ecclesial Communities, ancestral veneration and liberation ecclesiologies. Chapter Four investigates the traditional as well as modern Vietnamese family and its challenges in order to identify the foundation of the understanding of the concept of family in the local church. Chapter Five describes the development of the concept/model of the church as family in the organisation of the Vietnamese church that appeared in the seventeenth century and in some documents of the local church. Chapter Six analyses church hierarchy and the participation of the people of God. It provides some implications of the ecclesiology of the church as God’s family for the promotion of the participatory church in Vietnam. Chapter Seven examines the characteristics of and the practical tools in the church’s social mission and explores the challenges to the implications of the social mission of the church as the family of God. The conclusions of this thesis are that the concept/model and the applications of the church as the family of God have basic foundations in scripture, in patristic writings and in church documents. The concept of family in these materials implies two main meanings: the familial relationships between God and the people of God (or the church) and the mutual relationships among people in the church as well as in society. These relationships are based on human interactions in the family which are problematic in some situations. Therefore, the model of the church as family must be patterned on trinitarian communion of the divine family so that it can overcome the limitations of the human family. In that context, the Vietnamese family pointed out advantages as well as disadvantages in the development of the model of the church as family. The concept of family is very close to the Vietnamese; it provides some possibilities to develop the participation in the church and its mission in society. However, to some extent, the concept and the structure of the Vietnamese family which was influenced by Confucianism have challenged the local church in these areas. Therefore, the proper understanding of hierarchy and the church’s social mission were discussed. Based on that understanding some applications were also proposed in order to help the Vietnamese church to overcome these challenges and become an authentic model of the family of God.
Thesis 01front.pdf  84KB
02whole.pdf 2,764KB

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