Scielo RSS <![CDATA[HTS Theological Studies]]> vol. 73 num. 4 lang. pt <![CDATA[SciELO Logo]]> <![CDATA[<b>The universal imperial power of the Christian Text and yet the vulnerability of its message</b>]]> Is there anything outside the Christian Text or is the Christian Text all there is? The article will argue that the Christian Text has formed and shaped Western thinking to such an extent that it is impossible to think in the global world, co-created by various Western texts, without Christianity. The fact that the West colonised the world, and that today the Western media dominates the language of the global village, makes it nearly impossible to think outside the Christian Text and thus the universal domination by the Text. This article will first argue that for the Western-influenced world, there is nothing beyond the Christian Texts, and then it will argue that although this Text has universal (global) dominance, there is an interpretation of its central message as a message of weakness and vulnerability, which challenges (deconstructs) its imperialism. This leads towards the question: what is a possible praxis of such a universal and 'imperial' Text with its message of vulnerable weakness, specifically from a post-colonial context like South Africa? <![CDATA[<b>Practical theology '[<i>re</i>]entering vernacular culture?' New frontiers and challenges to doing theology as life goes on</b>]]> This article critically discusses the necessity for (practical) theology to transform. Taking as a point of departure church historian Andrew Walls' remark: 'Christian faith must go on being translated, must continuously enter into the vernacular culture and interact with it, or it withers and fades', examples from ministry are discussed, specifically from the Dutch Reformed Church. These examples reveal the inability or ability of faith communities to enter vernacular culture and to interact with it. Historical cycles of church growth and decline as outlined by Phyllis Tickle are used to explain the concepts of entering and interacting vernacular culture, and consequently, what it means to 'do theology as life goes on'. The latter refers to more than a rationally controlled process as it is also intimately connected with issues of identity, understanding of the missio Dei and a way of life and discernment that flows from being actively involved in life. <![CDATA[<i><b>Ekhaya</b></i><b>: Human displacement and the yearning for familial homecoming. From Throne (Cathedra) to Home (<i>Oikos</i>) in a grassroots ecclesiology of place and space: <i>Fides Quaerens Domum et Locum</i> [Faith Seeking Home and Space]</b>]]> The classical definition of theology is 'faith-seeking understanding' (fides quaerens intellectum). The focus is on the understanding/interpretation of the object of Christian faith: God. There is another root for the quest for understanding, namely the praxis situation of faith. People live in particular historical contexts that have their own distinctive problems and possibilities; thus, the focus on place and space in a theology of home. A praxis approach is to learn life and the gospel from below, thus the emphasis on a grassroots ecclesiology that is structured like an oikos, a familial dwelling place. This understanding of the dynamics of the fellowship of believers as oikodomein is captured by the Zulu notion for the yearning for home (home sickness): Ekhaya. It is argued that Ekhaya thinking is an alternative route for an operative ecclesiology that caters for the need of marginalised, oppressed, displaced and homeless people. Practical theology is thus described as fides quaerens domum et locum [faith-seeking home and place], namely to inhabit. An Ekhaya approach to practical theological ecclesiology is about critical reflection through the eyes of those who are weak and who don't count for much by the standards of successful people and institutions. <![CDATA[<b>Faith and reality: The role and contributions of the ecumenical church to the realities and development of South Africa since the advent of democracy in 1994</b>]]> Many Christians feel quite disillusioned and disappointed with the church in South Africa today because they assume that the church, in particular the South African Council of Churches (SACC), is not playing an adequate prophetic role in building the democratic South Africa since 1994. This article traces the role and contributions of the SACC and other ecumenical organisations to the building of a democratic South Africa. It establishes that whilst the SACC had lost its focus and vision and has an ecumenical body, largely because of its partnership with government, it does, nevertheless, continue to contribute to the building of the South African nation. <![CDATA[<b>Learning relationships: Church of England curates and training incumbents applying the SIFT approach to the Road to Emmaus</b>]]> This study invited curates and training incumbents attending a 3-day residential programme to function as a hermeneutical community engaging conversation between the Lucan post-resurrection narrative concerning the Road to Emmaus and the learning relationship in which they were engaged. Building on the SIFT approach to biblical hermeneutics the participants were invited to work in type-alike groups, structured first on the basis of the perceiving process (sensing and intuition) and second on the basis of the judging process (thinking and feeling). This approach facilitated rich and varied insights into the Emmaus Road narrative and into the theme of learning relationships. <![CDATA[<b>Holiness in Victorian and Edwardian England: Some ecclesial patterns and theological requisitions</b>]]> This essay begins by offering some observations about how holiness was comprehended and expressed in Victorian and Edwardian England. In addition to the 'sensibility' and 'sentiment' that characterised society, notions of holiness were shaped by, and developed in reaction to, dominant philosophical movements; notably, the Enlightenment and Romanticism. It then considers how these notions found varying religious expression in four Protestant traditions - the Oxford Movement, Calvinism, Wesleyanism, and the Early Keswick movement. In juxtaposition to what was most often considered to be a negative expression of holiness associated primarily with anthropocentric and anthroposocial behaviour as evidenced in these traditions, the essay concludes by examining one - namely, P.T. Forsyth - whose voice called from within the ecclesial community for a radical requisition of holiness language as a fundamentally positive reality describing the divine life and divine activity. The relevance of a study of the Church's understanding of holiness and how it sought to develop its doctrine while engaging with larger social and philosophical shifts endure with us still. <![CDATA[<b>Adolescent spirituality with the support of adults</b>]]> Adolescence can be a trying time for adolescents and those with whom they share their journey, directly or indirectly. In a fast-paced world where adolescents want to conform to their youth or popular culture, the adolescent may become inundated and confused with all that is continuously taking place in their social context. This article argues that with the support of adults, adolescents may be guided to explore, experience and live out their spiritual identities through their popular or youth culture in a healthy way. <![CDATA[<b>The labyrinth as a symbol of life: A journey with God and chronic pain</b>]]> This article is written in the style and method of an autoethnography that focuses on the author's spiritual journey with God while living with chronic pain. The labyrinth is used as a metaphor and spiritual tool to describe this journey. The author's personal experience with religion and spirituality is described as well as the choice of moving from thinking about God being 'out there', far away and looking upon God's creation (supernatural theism) to discovering God within - God 'right here' (panentheism). The affects and effects of living with chronic pain are discussed in reference to the process of walking the circuits of a labyrinth. The role of different people who played a part in this journey is highlighted. This way of writing corresponds with a narrative way of living which concentrates on deconstruction of dominant discourses and looking for outcomes that may lead to hope and transformation. The difference between rainbow hope and reasonable hope is explained and the consequence of choosing reasonable hope is discussed. Transformation of the person through the journey becomes apparent in the article. <![CDATA[<b>The Filling Station as a Fresh Expression of church for consideration in the local congregational context: A practical-theological investigation</b>]]> The findings of the Archbishop's Council in their 2004 report, to the effect that traditional forms of church in Britain are under threat because of changing cultural patterns, emphasise the need to re-think church for our contemporary contexts. The 'Fresh Expressions of church' movement is one such initiative identified and approved of by the Archbishop's Council. This article reports on research undertaken in a practical theological interpretation of The Filling Station, a Christian ministry that has grown significantly in its 10-year history and was formed as a missional endeavour in recognition of declining church attendance in traditional churches in Britain. This work explores whether The Filling Station is a Fresh Expression of church and whether it meets the values of authentic missional churches. In examining whether The Filling Station ought to be considered for import into appropriate local congregational contexts, it enquires whether it satisfactorily addresses prevailing social trends affecting churches, including consumerism and the need for identity. <![CDATA[<b>God as burden: A theological reflection on art, death and God in the work of Joost Zwagerman</b>]]> In one of his essays on art, Dutch author and essayist Joost Zwagerman (1963-2015) reflects on the work of (Dutch) South African artist Marlene Dumas (1953). Zwagerman addresses in particular Dumas' My Mother Before She Became My Mother (2010), painted 3 years after her mother died. In his reflections, Zwagerman proposes an interpretation of Dumas' work. He suggests that Dumas, in her art, does not accept the omnipotence of death. Maybe against better judgement, but Dumas keeps creating images that not only illustrate the desire for meaning but also embody this desire. The image and the desire for meaning merge in Dumas' paintings. The painting itself becomes an autonomous 'desire machine', according to Zwagerman. In this article, a (practical) theological reading of Zwagerman's own posthumously published volume of poetry, 'Wakend over God' (2016), is presented, with a specific interest in art, death and God. The sacramental hermeneutics of Richard Kearney and the theopoetics of John Caputo are brought into the conversation to elicit the dimensions of faith and religion in Zwagerman's own 'desire machine'. <![CDATA[<b>Beyond revenge?: Responsible Bible reading practices in a Traumatized Land</b>]]> In this article, I argue that revenge fantasies such as those found in the Oracles Against the Nations (OAN) in Jeremiah 45-51 underscore the necessity for responsible Bible reading practices. I argue that to protect us from our own worst selves, the very human tendency to resort to revenge that inevitably leads to violence, one needs to read these biblical texts in terms of contemporary hermeneutical approaches that may play some role to bring an end to violence. A first such approach that serves as an important tool to help us understand these revenge fantasies as found in the OAN is the relatively new field of inquiry of trauma hermeneutics that is particularly helpful in order to mitigate the violent aspects of these revenge fantasies. Moreover, I propose that recent approaches such as feminist and postcolonial biblical interpretation are also vital for nurturing ethical, just communities that actively pursue justice. <![CDATA[<b>Puzzling the Jesus of the Parables: A response to Ruben Zimmermann</b>]]> This article responds to Ruben Zimmermann's latest book, Puzzling the Parables of Jesus (2015). In particular, one aspect of his proposed method is challenged, namely, his conscious attempt to do away with considerations of the pre-Easter context when interpreting the parables. The article finishes by proposing a variant methodology of parable interpretation, featuring the parable of the Good Samaritan as a working example. <![CDATA[<i><b>Theologia</b></i><b> and the <i>ideologia</i> of language, nation and gender - Gateway to the future from a deconstructed past</b>]]> The article is a contribution to the centennial celebration of the Faculty of Theology at the University of Pretoria. It forms part of the section in the programme titled 'Ethos - Critical perspectives on our past and a gateway to our future' and is dedicated to Yolanda Dreyer who was the first female professor appointed in the Faculty of Theology of the University of Pretoria. The article reflects on aspects of the present-day populist discourse in South Africa and globally, which is enhanced by neonationalistic separatism. The following issues are critically discussed: homophobia regarding sexual minorities, a lack of sensitivity for the negative effects of male domination and the objection to English as the lingua franca for teaching. These aspects are assessed against the background of the Derridean notion of 'deconstruction' and the contributions of the first professors employed in the Faculty of Theology since its inception in 2017. <![CDATA[<b>The riverbank, the seashore and the wilderness: Miriam, liberation and prophetic witness against empire</b>]]> This article examines the manner and method of resistance against patriarchal power and privilege. Two types of power are contrasted. One is the violent, war-like and hierarchical power of an empire, and the other is the faithful resistance of Israel's prophets. A further distinction is made between violent male power and non-violent female power. It is argued that Miriam was a prophet of the people and her prophetic witness is an example of the power and outcome of non-violent resistance. Her theology explicitly and specifically praises God not as a warrior. Hers is not a muscular, masculine God whose power seeks to match the power of empire. Her God has a power that through radical love for a slave people and taking sides with the enslaved overcomes the power of the slaveholder. In her theology, Miriam recalls the God of the exodus, who begins the acts of liberation with the women, to whose faithfulness, courage and defiant obedience, the freedom of the people is entrusted. From a feminist perspective it is argued that this style of non-violent, faithful prophetic witness has a greater impact than violent resistance associated with an empire-like power. It is suggested that black liberation theology should adopt this paradigm in its witness of and resistance against oppression. <![CDATA[<b>Researching non-formal religious education: The example of the European study on confirmation work</b>]]> This article discusses the need for researching non-formal religious education as a neglected field of empirical research in religious education. By describing the growing awareness of the theological and educational meaning and importance of non-formal education and by reviewing the literature on research in religious education which appears to be focused somewhat one-sidedly on the formal context of the school and of the school subject of Religious Education, the author creates a background for the presentation of current research on confirmation work in Europe. The author gives an overview on a more than 10-year-long project on confirmation work in nine European countries, with an emphasis on the research design, methods, and main results. The experiences from this project are then discussed from the perspective of research on non-formal religious education. Finally, the author considers implications of this research for religious education and practical theology in general. <![CDATA[<b>Insiders and outsiders and a hermeneutic of resonance</b>]]> In this article, the author once again reflected on her personal and existential experience of frequent visits to African countries as well as to Israel-Palestine. The article focuses on the issues of outsiders becoming effective allies to the cultures they are visiting, teaching and researching by listening to other understandings and interpretations of biblical texts, Jesus' parables specifically. It is an appropriate tribute to Yolanda Dreyer because of Prof. Dreyer's involvement and significant contributions in issues of social justice, both academically and experientially. <![CDATA[<b>Healing as transformation and restoration: A ritual-liturgical exploration</b>]]> Illness is a reality that affects all people, and healing is the main reason why people attend worship services in sub-Saharan Africa. According to the Ritual Studies scholar Ronald Grimes, illness is a social reality; it is socially imagined and constructed. Healing in the church is something that many believers experience, also in the context of worship and liturgy. In order to explore such healing as it occurs in liturgy a research project was undertaken making use of both empirical work and a literature study. The aim of this research was to take the light off of direct pastoral care and investigate how the liturgy affects individuals within the congregation with regard to healing. A praxis-theory cycle was followed in the research, and a preliminary liturgical theory for praxis was developed based on the insight from the empirical study and ritual theory that healing through worship entails either transformation or reconciliation.