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Deacons and the Church: Making Connections between Old and New Hardcover – Large Print, 2002


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 170 pages
  • Publisher: Morehouse Publishing (2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0819219339
  • ISBN-13: 978-0819219336
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 1 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 300,285 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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The first thing we hear about deacons in today's churches is that they are servants. Read the first page
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Kurt Messick HALL OF FAME on 21 Jun. 2005
Format: Hardcover
For those who wish to understand the role of deacons in the church context as a whole, this book is a real gift. It is first written to those who are deacons in the church (and author John Collins makes it clear from the outset that this could be in any denomination, not just Anglo-Catholic ones, although the bias toward a more liturgical tradition does creep in regularly), but it is also written with a more general reader in mind, those with a concern to understand and assist the church in more effective and orderly ministry.
This is a relatively short book, done in four chapters, which begin and end with examining the present situation, and traveling in the analytical narrative through the beginnings of the church back toward the present. In the first chapter, Collins looks at the give-and-take in the history of the diaconate both in Protestant and Catholic terms. While the diaconate has often been a recognised order, for many church structures was a phase or transition point from layperson to priest. Collins looks at the reinvigourated diaconal structures in Catholic, Anglican, and Protestant churches for their strengths and controversial points (the issue of direct ordination to the priesthood, for example, comes out of the difficulty of understanding the two-track diaconal system). Collins also looks with great care and extensive documentation the various ways in which the diaconate is discussed and understood by various church organisations.
The next two chapters look at the diakonia (roughly understood as the combination of both the role and the function of deacons) both in context of gospel narratives of Jesus' work as well as the early church (up until the fourth century or so).
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 9 reviews
17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
Finding one's way... 15 Jun. 2005
By FrKurt Messick - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
For those who wish to understand the role of deacons in the church context as a whole, this book is a real gift. It is first written to those who are deacons in the church (and author John Collins makes it clear from the outset that this could be in any denomination, not just Anglo-Catholic ones, although the bias toward a more liturgical tradition does creep in regularly), but it is also written with a more general reader in mind, those with a concern to understand and assist the church in more effective and orderly ministry.

This is a relatively short book, done in four chapters, which begin and end with examining the present situation, and traveling in the analytical narrative through the beginnings of the church back toward the present. In the first chapter, Collins looks at the give-and-take in the history of the diaconate both in Protestant and Catholic terms. While the diaconate has often been a recognised order, for many church structures was a phase or transition point from layperson to priest. Collins looks at the reinvigourated diaconal structures in Catholic, Anglican, and Protestant churches for their strengths and controversial points (the issue of direct ordination to the priesthood, for example, comes out of the difficulty of understanding the two-track diaconal system). Collins also looks with great care and extensive documentation the various ways in which the diaconate is discussed and understood by various church organisations.

The next two chapters look at the diakonia (roughly understood as the combination of both the role and the function of deacons) both in context of gospel narratives of Jesus' work as well as the early church (up until the fourth century or so). Gospel stories look at the diakonia in many ways - from the perspective of call, service, love, mission, and more. The examples in the Acts of the Apostles as well as the Epistles show some early traditions as well as early difficulties with definition of the role of the deacon. The differing ways this office was played out across the early church in the world also leads to some controversies, but also shows some definite patterns, however fluid they might be.

Collins' final chapter appropriately ends with questions for consideration, setting the stage for continuing the various conversations taking place even now as to the role of deacons vis-à-vis the ministry of all the baptised. Complete with a good list of references which includes early church documents, books and articles, this is a good reflection guide as well as a good study guide for those who might want to be deacons, those who are deacons looking to clarify their roles, and those who want to understand more about what it is deacons do (or are supposed to do).
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
It changed my mind 25 July 2007
By Michael Gray - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Before I read this book, I thought deacons were strictly or at least primarily ministers to the poor and needy. I thought that those who are called to the liturgical and pastoral ministries needed to belong to the priesthood. Mr. Collins' explanation of the meanings of Greek words in the original scriptures changed my understanding of the roles of deacons. Although he complained too much that some other scholars haven't taken note of his findings, he does make a very strong case that deacons shouldn't think of their role as only ministers to the needy. He provides specific examples of deacons who preached the Word, who participated in the liturgy, who travelled between churches as representatives, and who attended to the administrative needs of the bishops. He concludes that these are historically justified activities for today's deacons.
The book is easy to read and interesting enough to read thoroughly.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Deacons in the church 29 Jan. 2010
By J Martin Jellinek - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
In Deacons and the Church, author John Collins addresses the role of deacons in the church today by looking at the historical understanding of the diaconate in the New Testament and in the early church. He proposes an expansion of the role of deacons from social workers to agents of God who work to bring the gospel to the people, both through ecclesiastic functions and through service to the congregation. As a lose paraphrase of Collins' proposal, he says that deacons should be the face of the church in the world and the face of the world in the church. Being the face of the church in the world may result in social worker type services, but it can also take the form of service to the congregation in which the deacon serves. Being the face of the world in the church should take the form of not only reading the gospel during services but also of teaching congregations about the action of the gospel in the world.

Overall, I very much agree with this interpretation of the gospel. However, I found Collins' presentation to be a bit heavy handed. In the first chapter, he seemed rather pompous, criticizing those who have not absorbed his previous work. Although I am not a New Testament scholar, his exegesis of New Testament passages seemed to read passages in ways that supported his point of view in contrast to traditional understanding. Although this is not necessarily a bad thing, it does leave at least this reader wondering about the accuracy of his understanding.

With these caveats, I still found the book well worth reading. It expanded my understanding of the role of deacons and the potential areas for growth in this ordained order.
8 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Interesting, but misses a key point 8 Mar. 2006
By K Walzer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
In this book, Collins seeks to redefine "diakonia" more in terms of "agency" than "service" based on what the word meant in Greek culture. He seeks to expand the understanding beyond social service but he seems to end up stressing more the role of deacons as church people (including but not limited to liturgy) swinging the pendulum in the opposite direction (away from deacons as social workers). A better balance is needed but I found his starting point to be flawed.

While I found his observations from Greek culture interesting, I remain unconvinced of his exegesis of Matthew 25 and other passages. He makes alot of what Luke would have understood "diakonia" to mean in the Greek culture, but, after all, Jesus did not speak these words originally in Greek to his disciples but in Aramaic and Matthew, Mark, and John, in writing in Greek were seeking to translate a Jewish and Aramaic idea about service into a Greek word that may not have meant exactly the same thing to Greeks as the Aramaic word meant to Jews. Paul does the same thing in using gnostic words but reinterpretting them and giving them new meaing in a Christian context. There is no reason to think that Luke did not do the same.

After all Jesus came among us as "one who serves" and demonstrated that in all his life and explicitly to the disciples in the example of washing their feet while they were busy arguing who was the greatest among them. It is more important to me to understand what Jesus meant by "service" (translated into Greek as diakonia) than how Greek writers understood the word diakonia in other contexts outside the Church. I don't think Collins addressed that here.
Rethinking deacons 10 Feb. 2014
By Darryl Klassen - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This particular text was very useful for the dissertation on the diaconate I am researching. Collins gives an interesting perspective on this ministry.
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