Saturday, 7 February 2015

Patout Burns: Divinization and Clerical Mediation in African Christianity Workshop: 'Out of Africa': The Quest for North African Theological Identity(/-ies) in the Patristic Era

This paper proposes a connection between an understanding of the church as the body of Christ, the divinization of individual Christians through incorporation into that body, and the limited role of the clergy in the church's sacramental ministry. Tertullian, Tyconius, and Augustine, in different but related ways, used the identification of Christ with the church in one voice, one body, and one person to explain the holiness of the church and its role as mediator of holiness to Christians. Augustine and Tertullian also used this identification to limit the status or role of the bishop as a mediator of sanctification through the sacramental and preaching ministries. In Augustine's case, incorporation into the Body of Christ was accomplished through the sharing of the gift of the Holy Spirit that divinized the Christian's willing and acting. It led not only to participation in Christ's bodily glory but to exercise of his priestly powers in baptism, eucharist, and reconciliation. Divinization by incorporation into Christ gave every Christian a share in the sanctifying power that Cyprian and his Donatist disciples reserved to the bishops.

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