Scielo RSS <![CDATA[HTS Theological Studies]]> vol. 73 num. 3 lang. en <![CDATA[SciELO Logo]]> <![CDATA[<b>Challenges facing the ministerial formation in Uniting Presbyterian Church in Southern Africa: A critical reflection</b>]]> Following the union of the Presbyterian Church of Southern Africa (PCSA) and Reformed Presbyterian Church in Southern Africa (RPCSA) to form the Uniting Presbyterian Church in Southern Africa (UPCSA) in 1999, it was necessary to consolidate theological education of a united church. This was a wise and bold decision by UPCSA, as a first attempt to integrate the training of both black and white students, but more importantly to give institutional expression to the advancement of unity. University of Pretoria (UP) became a major training centre of the UPCSA. Collaboration in ministerial formation between UPCSA and UP, its partner institution, has been plagued by manifold challenges. The challenges which will come under the spotlight are ecumenism, relationship between the university and the UPCSA, curriculum and spirituality. <![CDATA[<b>Mystifying moments in Bible interpretation: An exploration of some implied backgrounds to three kinds of unusual Bible readings</b>]]> This contribution is part of a series on Methodology and Biblical Spirituality. In this, the fourth contribution, the scope is widened; more practical-analytically oriented, three thoroughly different but nevertheless all unusual kinds of interpretations of the Bible are described, characterised and contextualised. Namely: • In order to explain what are perceived as textual anomalies, some Old Testament authors have been described by US-based medical practitioners as having suffered psychiatric dysfunctions. • The Garden of Eden from Genesis 2 and further has been located by a recently diseased Nigerian scholar as having been in her home country, with a Nigerian race having been the predecessors of biblical Adam and Eve. • Rastafarians, primarily Jamaica-based, regard marijuana as a holy herb and find direct support for their religious use of this plant in the Bible. However strange such 'mystifying' interpretations may seem within the theological mainstreams of Judeo-Christianity, there is more to these kinds of interpretations than simple whim. Certain cultural conditions along with personal, particularly spiritual, commitments enable these interpretations, which must be taken seriously in order to come to a fuller understanding of the text-interpreter dynamic. These then can cast at least some form of reflective light on the more usual current biblical-interpretative mainstreams within Judeo-Christianity, posing in a new light the question of what constitutes legitimate interpretations, also within mainstream interpretations, as religiously inclined people try to live their lives in the light of Scripture. <![CDATA[<b><i>Hilasterion</i></b><b> and imperial ideology: A new reading of Romans 3:25</b>]]> Paul uses the hapax legomenon ίλαστήριον in Romans 3:25. Pauline scholars have discussed the background for Paul's use of the word, whether from the LXX, Second Temple practice or pagan inscriptions. Two altars were found in the Asian city of Metropolis in the early 1990s with the dedication Καίσαρος ἱλαστηρίου. This article discusses their discovery, the history of Metropolis and the possible relationship of Paul to the city. It explores the date of the erection of the altars by establishing a viable sitz im leben early in the reign of Augustus. It then traces the semantic history of the ίλαστήριον and attempts to establish its possible meaning within Pauline theology. Finally, the question whether ίλαστήριον should be added to the vocabulary of imperial ideology in Paul's writings is addressed. <![CDATA[<b>Lewensbeskoulike aspekte in die openbare standpunte van twee presidente</b>]]> The last two presidents of the Zuid-Afrikaansche (South African) Republic (1852-1902) and the Republic of the Orange Free State (1852-1902), S.J.P. Kruger and M.T. Steyn, both stood in the tradition of the Christian Afrikaner. Kruger as the symbol of Afrikaner republicanism in the 19th century and Steyn as a younger and more modern Afrikaner, tried to base their policies openly and clearly on Biblical and Christian principles. Kruger as a member and recognised minister of the Reformed Churches in South Africa formulated his views in a typical Dutch neo-Calvinistic way, while Steyn used Reformed concepts combined with his academic background in jurisprudence and the law of nations to foster the same ideas. Kruger and Steyn trusted one another, agreed on core issues and worked together rather well. Each strived to maintain the independence of his republic. <![CDATA[<b>The role of spirituality as a coping mechanism for South African traffic officers</b>]]> Traffic officers are faced with many stressful situations, yet each traffic officer might cope differently with these stressors. Spirituality is regarded as an essential defence in stressful situations. Therefore, this article provides a basic framework guiding traffic officers and practitioners, on how spirituality can be used as a coping mechanism when faced with various work-related stressors. An interpretative, qualitative study was conducted utilising purposive sampling in which 10 traffic officers participated in in-depth interviews. In line with the interpretive paradigm, data were analysed using content analysis. The research findings indicate when utilising spirituality to various degrees in their workplace, traffic officers displayed adaptive coping capabilities. Traffic officers associated less spirituality or a lack thereof with weaker coping capability. Furthermore, spirituality in traffic officers is informed by their spiritual or religious foundation, their purpose in work and life, their connection to a spiritual source, and the fruits of spirituality. The coping ability of traffic officers is influenced by their upbringing and background, by stressors in their work environment and by their coping mechanisms. The role of spirituality in the coping of traffic officers culminated in their ability to interpret the meaning of spirituality, and then implementing spirituality as a coping mechanism. <![CDATA[<b>Conceptualising holiness in the Gospel of John: The mode and objectives of holiness (part 1)</b>]]> This article investigates the code of holiness as well as the objectives of holiness in the Gospel of John. The en route to holiness will be dealt with in a following article, 'Conceptualizing holiness in the Gospel of John: the en route to holiness and the character of holiness (Part 2)'. In the Gospel of John, the holiness of the trinity constitutes the theological environment for the code of holiness and forms the basis for the exhortation to holiness. The code of holiness is described in the light of the interaction of three levels of relationships: the unity between Father and the Son as the example of holiness, the unity between Jesus and the disciples as the basis for holiness and the unity among the disciples as the inducting objective for holiness. For the Fourth Evangelist, the objective of holiness is fourfold: The first objective is to constitute a unity among the followers of Jesus (17:20-23), although it is not explicitly defined in this context. The second objective refers to the preparation of Jesus' disciples to continue Jesus' mission. The third objective for holiness is that the world (ὁ κόσμος) may believe (πιστεύῃ) and may know (γινώσκῃ) that God has sent his Son (ὅτι σύ με ἀπέστειλας) (17:20-23). The fourth and the ultimate objective is the glorification of God (17:4). <![CDATA[<b>'</b><b>... Earth's proud empires pass away</b><b>…': The glorification and critique of power in songs and hymns of Imperial Britain</b>]]> Songs and hymns shape faith and play a part in shaping political landscapes. They can be used to build or maintain power as well as to critique and challenge it. This has been true for South Africa, and some brief examples will be given. But this article focuses on hymns and patriotic songs from the time of the British Empire and explores how they portray power, entrench superiority or build a common, global Christian identity. <![CDATA[<b>Is Psalm 104 an expression (also) of dark green religion?</b>]]> Bron Taylor defines dark green religion as follows: '… a deep sense of belonging to and connectedness in nature, while perceiving the earth and its living systems to be sacred and interconnected'. Can Psalm 104, with its conspicuous focus on nature, also be described as an expression of dark green religion? Utilising especially the dark green values of belonging, interconnectedness and sacredness, it was found that the psalm aptly confirms Earth as home, illustrates a deep-seated kinship with other living creatures and acknowledges nature as intrinsically worthy or sacred through its close association with God. Of the four kinds of dark green religion, Gaian Naturalism and Naturalistic Animism ('Darwinist', naturalist view), Gaian Spirituality and Spiritual Animism (supernaturalist view), the psalm belongs to the last-mentioned, acknowledging Yahweh as upholding and 'permeating' the harmonious whole of creation. The poet is, however, also well informed of 'natural' knowledge of his environment (for his time obviously). The psalm's joy, awe, astonishment, humility and fear (to a limited extent), being almost overwhelmed by awesome nature, are emotions that can also be shared by adherers to the naturalist view, those who doubt if there is some spiritual world running parallel to the natural world. The religious-like experience of naturalists provides common ground with the religious and enhances a much-needed change of view of respect towards nature. <![CDATA[<b>The tripartite structure and its design in a Tannaitic source</b>]]> This article deals with a tripartite structure applied to a Tannaitic source (Eruvin 41b). This structure is designed in the form of a difficulty and a short resolution, bringing one example for each of the three parts of the Tannaitic source. The uniform formative-stylistic phrasing gives the discussion of the Tannaitic source's three parts a tripartite form. The Tannaitic source utilises a chaining of examples from the first to the second part and from the second to the third part. <![CDATA[<b>Healing and coping with life within challenges of spiritual insecurity: Juxtaposed consideration of Christ's sinlessness and African ancestors in pastoral guidance</b>]]> Spiritual insecurity among African Christians is a huge challenge. The insecurity among other things arises from African people's former traditional African ancestral world view of ancestral veneration. The ancestors promote or hinder African Christians' reliance on Christ because they have presupposedly acquired the supernatural power that enables them to provide diagnoses and solutions to life challenges. The inherent problem in the ancestral world view, however, is that the ancestors are both respected and feared by their descendants because they can either bless or harm depending on the state of the relationship between the surviving human beings and the ancestors. The basis of the unpredictable influence of ancestors lies in the fact that they (ancestors) are considered as human beings who carry their human qualities to the spiritual world. In light of this situation, one constructive approach that can be advanced to address the challenges of African Christians' spiritual insecurity is a proper understanding of Christ as a sinless representative of humanity. This approach maintains that healing and coping with life within the challenge of African spirituality in the context of threatening life issues can be addressed by an appropriate understanding of Christ's sinlessness. The article argues for the foundational status of Christ as a sinless representative of humanity as the controlling framework. In doing so, Christ's sinlessness and the sinfulness of natural ancestors are juxtaposed to compare the two ontologies in order to draw some pastoral guidelines for African Christians. This approach pays close attention to the factors and mindset that sustain people who adhere to ancestral worship and assess them through a lens of Christology focusing on Christ's sinlessness as an exemplary doctrine. <![CDATA[<b>Understanding sexuality from the security gospel perspective: Mountain of Fire and Miracles Ministries as a case study</b>]]> This article examines a new dimension in the Nigerian Pentecostal understanding of sexuality, which is influenced by the security gospel emanating from Mountain of Fire and Miracles Ministries in Nigeria. This new dimension is noted in how Mountain of Fire and Miracles Ministries intricately connects sexuality with destiny. This article shows how Mountain of Fire and Miracles Ministries promotes a conservative understanding of sexuality as the key to securing believers' destinies. Understanding sexuality from the security gospel perspective is an indication that the Pentecostal theology of sex is dynamic and ambivalent, especially when the theology is spiced with African traditional beliefs. This is demonstrated through a content analysis of the teachings and messages of Pastor Daniel Olukoya, the founder of Mountain of Fire and Miracles Ministries, which are available in print, audio and video clips. It is argued that the persuasive manner in which these teachings are presented tends to create a phobia of sex in the minds of listeners. <![CDATA[<b>Has evolution 'prepared' us to deal with death? Paleoanthropological aspects of the enigma of <em>Homo naledi's</em> disposal of their dead</b>]]> The Homo naledi discovery introduced questions that had not been previously posed regarding fossil finds. This is because, apart from their fascinating physiology, they seemingly deliberately disposed of their dead in a ritualised way. Although this theory may still be disproved in future, the present article provisionally accepts it. This evokes religious questions because it suggests the possibility of causal thinking, wilful and cooperative behaviour, and the possibility that this behaviour entails traces of proto-religious ideas. This poses the challenge to develop a hominin hermeneutics that endeavours to reconstruct the possible motivation behind this action. The relatively larger brain with its enlarged Broca's area suggests the possibility of a sophisticated communication system and an enhanced way of dealing with emotion. We know that almost all life forms have some form of awareness and that more sophisticated degrees of consciousness may be present in the higher primates. Various 'clues' are investigated to try and understand the H. naledi phenomenon: lessons from chimpanzee studies, the implications of tool making for hominin development, the possibility of a proto-language and the role symbol formation may have played. The H. naledi case also indicates on a theological level that religion is natural. Some attention is given to this thesis. Biological and environmental factors come into play to illuminate biological factors like emotion and higher cognition without which religion would not be possible. Sophisticated cognition is coloured by affect (basic emotions are typical of all mammals) and this makes some form of reflection on the fate of loved ones who have died a strong possibility. <![CDATA[<b>Exploring the role of the church as a 'reformation agency' in enhancing a socially transformative agenda in South Africa</b>]]> International political, social, economic and religious developments influence how local communities operate. The South African church society is influenced by such developments taking place globally and which clearly influence how local churches function. This article explores the role of the contemporary church as a 'reformation agency' in enhancing a socially transformative agenda in South Africa. A qualitative research approach - an interpretative phenomenology design - was employed to negotiate a shared understanding through conversation and intersubjective meaning-making with church ministers, with the primary focus being their subjective experience of the changing role of the church in enhancing a transformative agenda in a South African context. A purposive sampling (n = 6) consisted of local church leaders who participated in the face-to-face and telephonic semi-structured interviews to achieve the purpose of the study. The findings clearly show that deliberate and intentional actions by churches allow them to become a voice for the marginalised, to create spaces for searching for excellence and to increase the quality of servant leadership, all as vehicles for transforming church society. Furthermore, servant leadership is a social phenomenon, a philosophy-in-practice aimed at leading by example to achieve a common goal. To accomplish this, church ministers are required to spearhead the challenge as a prerequisite to creating 'lived experienced' opportunities for members as an inward-outward spiritual journey. Finally, church leaders believed that transformation is a secular dimension, but that it can also be aligned towards God's redemption plan and enhancing a socially just transformation agenda. Ultimately, this study proposed several recommendations to allow the local church to be relevant in practicing and promoting stronger unity and reconciliation amongst all churches nationally and globally.