An analysis of Lenten fasting practices in two congregations of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Southern Africa, South Eastern Diocese, Umngeni Circuit.
Mudau, Ratshilunela Samuel.
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The thesis describes the results of an investigation of fasting based on a literature review and interviews with twenty fasting Christians. The researcher attempts to determine the attitude of Lutheran and Pentecostal congregants towards fasting using a snowball sample drawn from two Lutheran and two Pentecostal congregations and involving five members of each. The theoretical framework applied is the tri-polar approach based on text, context and appropriation. A thematic analysis is presented of answers given to questions posed in individual interviews. The researcher found that fasting has potentially three broad benefits, namely spiritual, social and physical. Using four congregations as his pool of sources the researcher has compared Lutheran Lenten fasting and Pentecostal January fasting as regards both text and context. It turned out that those Lutheran congregants who fast by abstaining from food (food fasting) do so under the influence of their Pentecostal counterparts. However, the majority of Lutheran participants do not practise food fasting and neither do the authorities involved encourage it. The implication is that these Lutheran authorities may not be meeting the needs of their congregants. The researcher proposes that they reconsider their attitude towards fasting in the Lenten season and, subsequently, if they reintroduce the practice, encourage congregations in their entirety to take up food fasting. In this way, Lenten fasting may become meaningful and effective. Finally, various recommendations are made about implementing Lenten fasting in the Lutheran church.