Date of Submission
Grulke, D. (2007). Legitimacy, authority and transition in the public office of the ministry in the Lutheran Church of Australia (Doctoral thesis, Australian Catholic University). Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.4226/66/5a9dbf4b33631
Clergy exist in a state of uncertainty within the Australian landscape. This landscape is in a process of change as the rationalism and empiricism of the Enlightenment, embedded within modernity, is being dismantled and replaced by a new social paradigm. This paradigm affects the practical realities of modern ecclesiology, and demands a re-examination of the fundamental processes in which theology is practiced. This dissertation explores the issue of leadership, seen through the Public Office of the Ministry within the Lutheran Church of Australia, and examines it through the concept of legitimacy. In doing this, a shift from the lineal approach of theology to the reflexivity of a practical theology is embraced as the methodological framework of this dissertation. Within this methodology experience and practice are taken seriously as elements that shape and formulate theology. Practice is not simply an outcome of theological reflection, but functions as an integral part of the continuing dialogue emerging out of the experience of faith. This methodology grows out of an acknowledgement of the correlation between theory and praxis. This correlation allows engagement with other traditions, not in antithesis but as a complimentary sharing of experience, practice and theory. This correlation helps formulate the deep questions of theology in new ways, accepting the fallibility claims inherent within it. In exploring legitimacy as a theological concept, birthed in classical thought, shaped by the Christian tradition, defined by the contractarians of the Enlightenment, and refined by social theory, this discourse enables valid engagement with theology. Developing a theology enabling the validity claims of the Christian tradition to be understood in terms of legitimation is an early challenge of this dissertation. The LCA is, like all Australian churches, influenced by the changing paradigms shaping modern Australia. In the midst of these tensions are the ordained clergy. This dissertation sets out to explore the tensions evident through a research process engaging the collective thoughts of laity and clergy, and through a process of reflexivity exposing points of crisis within the legitimation of the Public Office. The journey is the challenge embraced within this dissertation. The goal is not to resolve the legitimation issues faced within the relational engagements of pastor and people. The journey, the methodology, and the conclusions are all steps along the path to a fuller and more engaging communicative discourse on the Public Office within the LCA and the Australian churches. By empowering people to engage proactively in this discourse as agents of change, the goals of this research will have been achieved.
School of Theology
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Faculty of Arts and Sciences