It’s never too late to learn

UKZN’s old­est grad­u­ate earns PhD in the­ol­ogy aged 79

The Witness - - NEWS - • newsed@wit­ness.co.za

DR Ossie Kret­z­mann will tell you that it is never too late to start some­thing new or take your life to new heights.

This is be­cause at 79, Kret­z­mann at­tained his PhD in the­ol­ogy dur­ing UKZN’s Spring Grad­u­a­tion Cer­e­monies held at Westville cam­pus.

“I feel hum­ble but deeply ful­filled and grate­ful. It’s a para­dox­i­cal feel­ing that I have,” he said.

“While the study has been long and hard, it has also given me joy over the ac­qui­si­tion of new knowl­edge. I also re­alised how lit­tle I know,” he added.

Kret­z­mann, the old­est grad­u­ate from the Col­lege of Hu­man­i­ties who also min­is­tered to the late states­man, Nel­son Man­dela on Robben Is­land, said his age did not de­ter him from pur­su­ing his de­gree as he needed to study to make a fun­da­men­tal con­tri­bu­tion to a the­o­log­i­cal is­sue in the Methodist Church.

His study looked at bap­tismal con­ver­gence in re­la­tion to sacra­men­tal bap­tism and re­bap­tism. The find­ings were tested ac­cord­ing to Methodist Church South Africa (MCSA) sacra­men­tal and evan­gel­i­cal hermeneu­ti­cal re­quire­ment for an ac­cu­rate Chris­tian re­sult.

“These prin­ci­ples of test­ing form the ba­sis of what it ul­ti­mately means for the Bi­ble to be the high­est author­ity and thus should serve as an ob­jec­tive ar­biter for all mat­ters of dis­pute within MCSA doc­trine and the­ol­ogy,” he said.

Kret­z­mann is grate­ful to God, his wife Deirdre, chil­dren, and es­pe­cially su­per­vi­sors Pro­fes­sor Lil­ian Si­wila and Dr He­len Keith-van Wyk for their in­dis­pens­able part in the study.

“An old dog may not be able to learn new tricks, but with their as­sis­tance I have come to see that all things are pos­si­ble at any stage of life,” said Kret­z­mann, who be­lieves that God is us­ing him to con­trib­ute to­wards the en­hance­ment of the re­demp­tive mis­sion of Christ in the Methodist Church through this study of wa­ter bap­tism as well as in the pro­mo­tion of Chris­tian Ec­u­menism.

Kret­z­mann was born in 1939 in Pots­dam, near East Lon­don in South Africa, into a Ger­man farm­ing com­mu­nity.

Be­cause of fi­nan­cial con­straints caused by the eco­nomic de­pres­sion of Dr Ossie Kret­z­mann at­tained his PhD in the­ol­ogy at the age of 79 years. the 1930s, a se­ries of droughts, the loss of a herd of milk cows; his fa­ther was com­pelled to re­move him and his siblings from school as they could legally earn a liv­ing.

At the age of 15, he was em­ployed as a de­liv­ery boy. At 19, he re­quested to en­ter the full-time min­istry of the Methodist Church.

He would later be­come a lay preacher, later earn­ing a BA de­gree in 1968, a BA Hon­ours in 1982, a Mas­ter’s de­gree in 2012 and now, a PhD.

Amongst the high­lights of his min­istry were the monthly vis­its to Robben Is­land for two years (1970-1971) where he reg­u­larly min­is­tered to for­mer pres­i­dent Nel­son Man­dela amongst the hun­dreds of other po­lit­i­cal pris­on­ers; at­tend­ing the Mon­treal Olympic Games in 1976 with an evan­ge­lis­tic group called Youth With A Mis­sion; be­ing part of the World Con­fer­ence on the Holy Spirit in Jerusalem Is­rael (1974), and in 2009, be­ing in­vited back into the Lutheran Church to do locum work where he re­ceived his Chris­tian up­bring­ing.

He gives credit to his par­ents, es­pe­cially his mother, for sav­ing his life af­ter con­tract­ing diph­the­ria — a bac­te­rial in­fec­tion that af­fects the mu­cous mem­branes of the throat and nose — at two years old. — UKZN.

“I feel hum­ble but deeply ful­filled and grate­ful. It’s a para­dox­i­cal feel­ing that I have. While the study has been long and hard, it has also given me joy over the ac­qui­si­tion of new knowl­edge. I also re­alised how lit­tle I know.

PHOTO: UKZN

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