This book is written within a context of academic reflection on the theory and the praxis of diakonia. It is the third book on Diakonia published by Regnum Books, and follows up Diakonia as Christian Social Practice: An Introduction (2014) and Diakonia in a Gender Perspective (2016).
The present volume addresses the ecclesial dimension of diakonia, both as theory and practice. It roots diakonia in the Gospel of Jesus Christ and in his call to discipleship, thus affirming diakonia as constitutive for the being and the doing of the Church. In addition, it points to a broad variety of possible action areas in the pursuit of serving God and the neighbor, of defending human dignity and promoting justice, peace and the integrity of creation.
Diakonia is an integral part of the church’s mission, and cannot be disconnected, neither from the proclamation and teaching, nor from advocacy and public witness. Together with the growing attention given to ecclesial and holistic dimension, the ecumenical movement has affirmed the prophetic dimension as fundamental in its understanding of diakonia. In particular, voices from the global South have raised this concern; claiming that the diaconal church cannot respond to the challenges of today’s world by activities in the form of benevolent action; diakonia must address the root causes of injustice and be rights-based in its analysis, methodology and practice. As faith-based and rights-based practice, diakonia is inspired by prophets in the Old Testament, and even more by Jesus, who boldly defended human dignity and resisted practices of social and religious exclusion, setting people free and empowering them to enjoy the gifts of the community.
These dimensions will permeate the different presentations in this book, acknowledging that each context presents particular challenges in pursuing the task of manifesting the church’s distinct nature and mission. All authors of this book share this commitment, expressing it differently according to their background and experiences.
Diaconal practitioners together with students of diakonia are imagined as the prime readers of this book; it intends to strengthen their ability to reflect critically and constructively on their practice and to equip them with relevant and well-founded tools in the pursuit of an improved practice.
The book is a joint venture between VID, Digni and the publisher Regnum Books in Oxford.
In the final phase of editing this book, our dear colleague Knud Jørgensen fell seriously ill and was hospitalized. From his laptop next to the hospital bed, he continued his tireless work of bringing the book to its conclusion, in dialogue with the authors, in securing the quality of the texts. Without Knud, it is difficult to imagine that the project of publishing three academic books would have been possible. We recognize this with admiration and gratitude, acknowledging Knud’s significant contribution in so many other areas of serving the Lord, as we dedicate this volume to Knud and in his memory.