The study undertaken aims at establishing the relevance, importance as well as justification of the practice of excommunication. The practice is interrogated through the literature review. The main era in which this practice is investigated is the Reformation era under the period of Martin Luther. This is a critical era of a person who is said to have influenced more than 400 million Christians from his time to date. He was the victim of excommunication himself. The study employed a qualitative research method which augmented the literature review by interviewing the victim survivors of the same practice, who shared their ordeal encounters with the kind of brokenness that called for maximum empathy and identification. In the final analysis a comparison of the Pentecostal’s constitution against the mainline denomination’s was done. This reflection revealed a deeper lack of consistency in the exercising of the ritual of excommunication. It is ultimately recommended that a conducive environment should be sought for where the victim survivor will appreciate the excommunication ritual so exercised on him/her. Furthermore, the procedures and processes are encouraged to be observed up to the letter of the word so as to finally bring about the desired healing to the offender when executing excommunication. Excommunication should not be seen as a wielded axe intending to terminate the existence of the weak or the offender. The study recommends a variety of Pastoral Care Methodologies ranging from authorities such as Charles Gerkin, Ann and Edward Wimberly and many other Pastoral Care scholars who advocate for a therapeutic approach when dealing with the wounded victim survivors. The Impact and Effects of Trauma were analysed in minute detail as a window into understanding a person who has undergone excommunication. This information led to the examination of the various behavioural patterns or characteristics resulting from excommunication. Stress resulting from trauma was analyzed as a means of helping with the understating of the desired approach when dealing with the victim survivor of excommunication. Finally a method of Pastoral Care is recommended which is informed by the literature consulted as well as the interviews conducted. This method proposes an establishment of a sound, unbiased and balanced system of approaching the victim survivor from the first phase of inquiring about the admission of guilt to the last stage of the enquiring processes. The system culminates with the therapeutic role the church as community meant to care should embark upon.
Dissertation (MA(Theol))--University of Pretoria, 2010.