Diaconiology (dye-a-connie-ology) is not the study of deacons, or not specifically, anyways. It is the study of the offices of the Church, where they come from and how they are applied. Ever wondered where ministers came from? Or why we don’t have bishops and a pope? Or why your local megachurch has a leadership team and not a consistory? This is the course where we ask those questions and Dr. de Visser answers them.
The name, when you see it on the course calendar, looks as mysterious as a chainsaw in an operating room, and about as suggestive, too. You don’t even dare to ask. We studied some of the names that other seminaries have chosen to use, like Practical Theology, Pastoral Theology, and Ministerial Studies. These names have certain advantages, not the least of which is that they provide English speakers with the chance to take a stab at what they’re about. Diaconiology, on the other hand, doesn’t even let you two syllables in unless someone shows you the way. However, it is the name that CRTS has stuck with all these years, and for good reason, too.
It comes from the New Testament Greek word diakonia which means “service.” Serviciology, you could say. Coming straight from Scripture in this way, the term reflects the fact that the offices have been given to the Church by Christ in His Word. That’s important. A name like “Practical Theology” is straightforward, but it gives the impression that offices are simply “practical,” or human affairs. It’s all horizontal and no vertical, Dr. de Visser would say. On the other hand, while “Pastoral Theology” and “Ministerial Studies” do bring out that Scriptural basis, they seem to focus on the office of pastor, or minister, in particular. We want a little more balance than that. So the name has to encompass all the offices that Christ has given, and also emphasize the fact that it is He who has given them. “Diaconiology” serves this function well; it’s why it was first chosen back in Holland and why it’s still in use well over a century later. Besides, once you know how to say it, it’s actually quite nice.