Scielo RSS <![CDATA[Acta Theologica]]> vol. 28 num. lang. en <![CDATA[SciELO Logo]]> <![CDATA[<b>Allegorising: The relevance of an old method of interpretation</b>]]> The question about what texts mean for us in the present as distinct from the question what they originally meant has again come into the focus of attention. This broadening of the focus is very important for understanding religious texts as texts about God's transforming relationship to people. This article considers the Biblical interpretation of the Church Fathers, and particularly their use of allegory, as this may inspire us to develop ways of interacting with the Biblical texts as religious texts meant to speak to our times. <![CDATA[<b>Towards a Spirituality of Peace</b>]]> This article contributes towards designing a Spirituality of Peace within Spirituality as a discipline. It first analyses the increasing attention to violence and peace generally and within religious contexts specifically. It then critically evaluates some approaches that view violence and peace as moral issues and shows how these approaches inherently move towards a spiritual approach to peace. The article finally discusses work by Hauerwas and Levinas in order to prepare the way for an alternative, more complementary approach to violence and peace from the perspective of Spirituality as a discipline. <![CDATA[<b>Mysticism: A way of unknowing</b>]]> The phenomenon of mysticism has been a cause of intense debate for philosophers, religionists, and theologians for centuries. Interest in mysticism is particularly vibrant in the 21st century, not only among the afore-mentioned, but also from other diverse sectors of society. This is evidenced in the plethora of material dealing with various aspects of mysticism. Negative or apophatic mysticism is eliciting greater attention, both in the academy and in society in general and many of the misconceptions surrounding this concept are currently under scrutiny. It is clear that apophatic mysticism - the "way of unknowing" or "nothingness" - belongs to the essence of the spiritual path. A short survey of this concept in some of the major religious traditions, together with an analysis of the place of apophasis in Christianity, brings this pertinent area of study into greater focus. <![CDATA[<b>Contemporary Christian Spirituality: An "encompassing field"</b>]]> Contemporary Christian spirituality, understood as both an experiential, lived-life phenomenon and an academic discipline gives a new-found universal perspective to the reflective Christian. It constitutes an encompassing, incorporative "field" through occupying a "give-and-take" inter-disciplinary place in a general academy of Spirituality and through repossession of its own traditions, insights and ecumenical spiritual landscape. These discoveries are further enhanced through contemporary Christian spirituality's own critical appreciation of globalisation and postmodernism. Contemporary Christian spirituality, at its best, constitutes a world-appreciative openness that nevertheless sustains its own unique identity. In short, contemporary Christian spirituality offers a lived-faith and academic discipline that is globally conscious and universally aligned. It operates out of a credible contextual rationale for our times. <![CDATA[<b>Spirituality: Sense and gist. On meaning, God and being</b>]]> The definition of spirituality is a notoriously difficult undertaking. Rather than continuingly pointing this out, two advances are suggested in this article: That the impossibility of a precise definition of spirituality is accepted, as is the case with many other important aspects of life, and that the inherently paradoxical nature of spirituality is more fully explored as a way of coming to a deeper understanding of this phenomenon. The latter is illustrated by briefly juxtaposing the concepts of God and non-God and of self-implication and estrangement. The most important books for furthering such analyses are listed. <![CDATA[<b>El Greco's representation of mystical ecstasy</b>]]> This article deals with one of El Greco's most original inventions, namely the gesture expressing mystical ecstasy in angelic and human figures. It is introduced with a brief explanation of figural representation in Renaissance painting which was achieved by applying the premises of rhetoric in a visual way, that is by the means of the expressive gestures of figures. In El Greco's later paintings, which were influenced by Neo-Platonic spiritual ideals, not only the figures of the angels - who are links between heaven and earth - embody spiritual ecstasy, but also human aspirants are portrayed as losing themselves in an ecstatic experience. These figures, merging themselves in a divine vision, are depicted with distinctive vertical forms, gesturing heavenwards in a specific way. The ecstatically gesturing figures are selected from El Greco's most distinctive paintings. <![CDATA[<b>The call for spiritual formation in Protestant theological institutions in South Africa</b>]]> Spiritual formation is a significant component of the educational work of a theological institution that prepares students for church leadership. Theological institutions have a responsibility to engage students in reflecting on the spiritual life, to provide opportunities for students, to deepen their spiritual journeys and to develop in students a spiritual maturity that is required of future church leaders. This article argues the need for Protestant theological institutions in South Africa to be more deliberate in developing students spiritually within the challenges of their South African context. <![CDATA[<b>Understanding spiritual experience in Christian spirituality</b>]]> A spiritual experience for some means a mere fabrication of the mind. For others it is pathological and the consequence of psychiatric disturbances and psychological disorders. Others acknowledge that certain role-players are present when spiritual experiences occur. However, the identification of the involvement of these role-players by no means minimises the spiritual experience to a level of being non-significant. A spiritual experience in Christian spirituality assumes as its foundation that a personal relationship with Christ exists. It further signifies spiritual interaction as a result of the relationship. Taking different possibilities into account, this article contends that whatever scientists make of spiritual experience, it can never be reduced to mere fabrications of the mind, or psychological disorders. A spiritual experience in a Christian context signifies the interaction of God. Furthermore, spiritual experience is an important aspect of Christian spirituality that in essence indicates a relationship and interaction between the believer and God. <![CDATA[<b>The spirituality of Andrei Rublev's Icon of the Holy Trinity</b>]]> This article focuses on the work of Rublev who is considered to be the greatest medieval Russian Orthodox painter of icons and frescoes and whose work has influenced generations of Russian artists, theologians, writers and philosophers. It examines Rublev's spirituality, both historically and theologically, with specific attention to the Icon of the Holy Trinity which is considered to be his most important work. <![CDATA[<b>Contemplation and social transformation: The example of Thomas Merton</b>]]> This essay examines the relationship between the Christian tradition of contemplation and social action. It takes as its paradigm the life and writings of Thomas Merton (Fr Louis), an American Cistercian monk at the Abbey of Gethsemani, Kentucky, who became one of the most widely-read and influential spiritual writers as well as Christian social commentators of the mid-twentieth century. Merton, who often wrote through an autobiographical medium, gradually moved away from an early emphasis on contemplative withdrawal to a belief that the monastic life is a form of counter-cultural solidarity with those who struggle for social transformation and justice. The essay more broadly explores the theological basis for a coherence of mysticism and action in contrast to some misinterpretations of the Christian language of interiority. It concludes with an exploration of the relationship between contemplation and politics in a number of twentieth and twenty-first century theologians, both Catholic and Protestant. <![CDATA[<b>Being and becoming "fully human" in an HIV-positive world: HIV/AIDS and feminist Christian spirituality</b>]]> Feminists have researched the link between gender and HIV/AIDS and shown that women are not always morally responsible for being HIV-positive. This article contributes to the debate by presenting a systematic discussion of women's experience of HIV/AIDS and spirituality. It offers a model of full humanity that interprets the links between HIV/AIDS, poverty, and gender and uses feminist spirituality as a resource for transformed healing. The model was developed by weaving together the interpreted experiences of black, HIV-positive women participants with the teachings of feminist Christian spirituality. This research study shows that in responding to the HIV/AIDS pandemic, it is necessary to adopt an integrative, multifaceted and holistic approach that embodies the gender perspective so that the fully human spirituality of people and women in particular, is enhanced. <![CDATA[<b>Mystical perspectives in interreligious dialogue</b>]]> This article discusses the distinction that is being made between the unknowability of God, the source of all that is, and Jesus of Nazareth, the body language of God, from the view-point of spirituality with Paul's address at the Areopagus in Athens (Acts 17:16-32) as point of departure. This speech virtually represents the oldest Christian interfaith meeting in which there is a dialogue between religious Athenians and Paul. The article reflects, first of all, on Paul's reaction to the questions and challenges of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers in his audience that relates to this distinction. A second part will investigate the mystical unity of the unknowable God and his body language in Christ. In a third part some mystical perspectives on this distinction in Islam will be analysed. <![CDATA[<b>Awe and respect in the Psalms</b>]]> This essay discusses the motif of awe in the Psalms in terms of Buber's outline of mystical awe. In a first section, awe as the beginning of wisdom is analysed, followed by a discussion of the experience of Be-er's¹ (Yahweh's) goodness. In a third section, attention is given to awe as the quiet waiting on Be-er, followed, in a final part, by an analysis of love as the result of awe. <![CDATA[<b>Leading "Around Scripture"</b>]]> The article discusses the Carmelite programme "Around Scripture" as a recent development in the Order, in particular the leadership of the programme. It explains the kind of activity "Around Scripture" entails and the best approach to it. It investigates the capabilities a leader needs to guide the sharing within a group, in particular his/her reading competence and exegetical capabilities. Because reflection in "Around Scripture" also relates to spirituality and the spiritual way (both in the Biblical text and in the participants) and because it also concerns processes of appropriating spirituality, the article considers the leader's knowledge of spirituality and analyses his/her mystagogical capabilities. The article concludes with a brief discussion of the leader's unselfishness.