Scielo RSS <![CDATA[Acta Theologica]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/rss.php?pid=1015-875820120002&lang=en vol. 32 num. 2 lang. en <![CDATA[SciELO Logo]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/img/en/fbpelogp.gif http://www.scielo.org.za <![CDATA[<b>Cyril of Alexandria's critique of the term <i>Theotokos</i> by Nestorius Constantinople</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S1015-87582012000200001&lng=en&nrm=iso&tlng=en The God Word became truly human. He had the real human nature (body and soul), but without propensity to sin. Jesus Christ was the incarnate Word of God. He was born of the Virgin Mary and conceived by the Holy Spirit. His divinity is manifest in the extraordinary circumstances of His birth and, in particular, in the preservation of the virginity of the Theotokos. His humanity is guaranteed in that He was born of a woman, a real historical person. Nestorius of Constantinople rejected the title Theotokos for the mother of the incarnated Word. He insisted that Mary as a human being could give birth only to a human being, and not to God. He persisted in calling the Virgin Mary Christotokos. This teaching jeopardised the salvation of the human race. Cyril of Alexandria disproved this erroneous belief and supported the reason why the mother of God should be called Theotokos. <![CDATA[<b>Reflection on the theology of Joseph Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI)</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S1015-87582012000200002&lng=en&nrm=iso&tlng=en This essay looks at ways in which the theology of Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, shows affinities with Reformation theological thought. Following a brief look at the background to my own interest in Ratzinger, I present some important features of his theology, shedding light on it particularly through drawing attention to those theological figures in the Christian tradition, Augustine and Bonaventure, who have influenced him the most. A brief treatment is then offered of how these theological forefathers are reflected in his work and, following this, Reformation "flavours" shown to have been present in his writings are traced, briefly, through examining three areas of his thought: ethics, his theology of political life, and ecumenism. The purpose of the article is to indicate, in an incipient way for an audience largely of the Reformed tradition, that Ratzinger is not as distant from their theological concerns as might easily be imagined. <![CDATA[<b>Enhancing of teaching and learning through constructive alignment</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S1015-87582012000200003&lng=en&nrm=iso&tlng=en This article elucidates issues about practical knowledge/deep learning on the current teaching and learning preaching practices in the Department of Practical Theology at the Faculty of Theology of the University of the Free State. The action learning and action research methodology is applied. Growing evidence indicates that there is a disjunction between the level of student competencies and incongruent teaching practices in the Faculty. Failure in the operationalization of both an interdisciplinary and a constructive alignment approach is at the core of surface learning. It appears that former and current students find it difficult to align their studies and to adapt to an unfamiliar, diverse, pluralistic and complex postmodern society. We teach content and assess students on the basis of what they know. The content does not relate to students' own experiences or the broader issues in society. We are talking about a change that is deeper than surface alterations to the syllabus or to classroom teaching techniques. We are considering a radically different way of framing the ministry of preaching and of viewing the task of those who seek to learn and to teach preaching. <![CDATA[<b>Augustine on election</b>: <b>the birth of an article of faith</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S1015-87582012000200004&lng=en&nrm=iso&tlng=en The doctrine of divine election is part of the heritage of Western Christianity. Discussions in the reformed tradition point to the older Augustine as the one who developed the doctrine of double predestination in the controversy with the semi-Pelagians. The thesis of this study is that the birth of this doctrine can be found in the writings of the young Augustine in the early years of his episcopacy. Personal explorations into St. Paul's letter to the Romans and written questions from Simplician of Milan prompted him to write on Chapter 9. Augustine's reading of Romans 9 is compared with the preceding works of Marius Victorinus and Ambrosiaster. The account of Augustine's conversion in his Confessiones document indicates his involvement in Romans. Especially his Ad Simplicianum documents "a veritable revolution in his theology" towards a fully developed doctrine of grace. The concept of God's foreknowledge of human acts no longer sufficed to understand the diverse fates of the twins Esau and Jacob. <![CDATA[<b>Mercy, love and salvation in orthodox spirituality</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S1015-87582012000200005&lng=en&nrm=iso&tlng=en Mercy was demonstrated in the Hebrew and Greek traditions. The ideal state of Plato's Republic exhibits mercy in a form that contrasts sharply with the Christian concept. The latter does not distinguish between those of different social conditions. In the Jewish tradition, non-observance of mercy was perceived as a transgression against a divine command which could potentially bring divine retribution on the entire community. For the Christians, mercy is not limited to members of one's own community, but includes others, regardless of race, social class or even religion. It is a form of love which is not wasted in temporary and sentimental effusions, but actualised in concrete deeds, with the ultimate example supplied by Christ. Mercy also functions as a medicine against social inequality, serving to suppress the kinds of injustices present in every political system, as well as social solidarity. Mercy is the practical manifestation of interhuman love; it raises man from the image to the likeness of God <![CDATA[<b>Faith development of the teenager during the Sunday evening worship service</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S1015-87582012000200006&lng=en&nrm=iso&tlng=en From church conversations with teenagers (born between 1974 and 1994), publications in recent times appeared worldwide and the qualitative investigation in the article is utilized. It seems there are problems in the practice of the faith formation of teenagers in the evening service. The aim of an evening service must always be that God receives all the glory and honour; therefore, the teenager's faith may be enriched. The article chooses for the use of the communicative approach to communicate the gospel to teenagers. The article attempts to use the empirical research method to determine which evening worship needs are experienced by teenagers. The article aims to provide the basis of an adjusted practice theory to propose an improved praxis. The article would provide guidelines for all stakeholders that are involved in the planning and execution of the liturgy of the evening worship service. The purpose of this article is to inspire new thinking and doing. The evening service liturgy should be arranged so that every teenager attending the evening service will be aware of the presence of God. <![CDATA[<b>Open-ended narrative and moral formation</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S1015-87582012000200007&lng=en&nrm=iso&tlng=en A narrative approach for moral formation must take the shortcomings of abstract reason seriously. Two specific attempts to a narrative approach, narrative as a means to an end and the supra-narrative approach, do not address these shortcomings and are inadequate approaches for moral formation. An open ended narrative approach considers reason as an important phenomenon for moral formation. The shortcomings of using abstract reason such as the neglect of tradition, community and the particular finds relevance in the way reason is used in an open ended narrative approach. Reason is not rejected, but it is used in a more holistic way that includes critical reflection. <![CDATA[<b>Towards a Christian ethic of work in South Africa</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S1015-87582012000200008&lng=en&nrm=iso&tlng=en This paper draws on the academic field of Christian ethics and focuses attention on an ethic of work within the South African context. Key terms such as 'an ethic of work', 'a work ethic' and 'ethics at work' are discussed in relation to varied experiences of work. The issues of why one ought to work and what constitutes 'good' work are discussed with reference to current ethical and economic challenges. I argue that a Christian worldview, or understanding of reality, provides a much more credible contribution to an ethic of work than either a materialist view of reality or a system of patronage. <![CDATA[<b>The <i>Belhar Confession</i> and <i>Church and Society</i></b>: <b>a comparative reading in five statements</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S1015-87582012000200009&lng=en&nrm=iso&tlng=en This essay offers a close comparative reading of the Belhar confession and the DRC witness document, Church and Society. It is argued (in the first statement) that although on the surface there are many similarities in content between the two documents, they are in fact theologically quite distinct (statements two to five). It is hoped that the DRC's decision in 2011 to start a process of adopting the Belhar confession represents a return to its Reformed roots in the confessing church tradition. <![CDATA[<b>Closing gaps in open distance learning for Theology students</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S1015-87582012000200010&lng=en&nrm=iso&tlng=en UNISA's policy documents state clearly that the Open Distance Learning (ODL) concept aims to bridge the time, geographical, economic, social, educational and communication distance between student and institution, student and academics, student and courseware as well as student and peers. Blended learning and student-centredness remove barriers to effective learning, provide flexibility, and construct learning programmes with the expectation that students can succeed. Student-centredness and blended learning are the main drivers behind the intense evaluation and planned upgrading of the courses taught within the Department of Christian Spirituality, Church History and Missiology. The student profile showed that our students are indeed a unique group with diverse interests and expectations from the theological courses for which they enrolled. By adjusting the values of the four components of blended learning and using both active and passive learning tools, students can learn course content and develop a core of applicable, transferable skills needed to succeed in the Open Distance Learning environment. <![CDATA[<b>Oor die teologiese inhoud van die Belydenis van Belhar</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S1015-87582012000200011&lng=en&nrm=iso&tlng=en The essay argues that the theological content is indeed the most important contribution of Reformed confessional documents, but that the theological content can only be understood against the specific historical, which most often means socio-political, circumstances in which these confessions were originally adopted. Regarding the Confession of Belhar, the theological content consists in three confessional claims (each including allusions to the false teaching that is implicitly thereby unmasked and rejected) within the broader framework of an introduction and conclusion, involving key theological claims as well, respectively about the nature of the church and the lordship of Jesus Christ. After some interpretive comments on all five of these structural aspects - the introduction and conclusion and the three claims - brief consideration is given to the nature of reception of confessional documents in the Reformed tradition and some implications for the reception of the theological content of the Confession of Belhar <![CDATA[<b>Articulating (ultimate) commitments</b>: <b>historical, factual and systematic considerations</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S1015-87582012000200012&lng=en&nrm=iso&tlng=en Acknowledging that religion forms a constitutive part of human life is recently confirmed by Göbekli Tepe, an archaeological site in Turkey, from which it appears that religion is basic to all the other cultural developments within human society. This opened the way to illustrate the interplay between ultimate commitments and theoretical articulations with reference to the a priori commitment to gradualism (continuous change) as found in the thought of Darwin and neo-Darwinism. Subsequently a related brief analysis is given of the ultimate commitment motivating the development of Greek philosophy and Medieval philosophy and theology. Distinguishing between conceptual knowledge and concept-transcending knowledge (concept and idea) brought the views of Plotinus, Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, Dengerink and Tillich into the discussion. Negative theology is used to show how ontic conditions play a role in the articulation of ultimate commitments. The long-standing commitment to reason, embodied in the identification of thought and being, resulted in what the physicist, Carl Friedrich von Weizsácker, calls faith in science which according to him is the governing religion of our time. The philosophy of science of the 20th century acknowledges that scholarly activities are co-conditioned both by theoretical commitments and supra-theoretical ultimate commitments - the central dimension of human existence in which the antithesis between Christian and non-Christian convictions is seated. Wolters emphasizes that all aspects of created life and reality are in principle equally good, and all are in principle equally subject to perversion and renewal. <![CDATA[<b>Kerk en skoolonderwys in vier kerkordes</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S1015-87582012000200013&lng=en&nrm=iso&tlng=en Reformed churches in the tradition of John Calvin and the well-known Synod of Dordt (1618-1619), have a long history of involvement of some kind in school education. This article looks into the famous - at least in some circles - church order of Dordt, and the present orders of three reformed churches: the Reformed Churches in South Africa, the Dutch Reformed Church and the Christian Reformed Church in North America. All three tend to be in the tradition of Dordt. In the Dutch society of the 17th century close ties between the Reformed Church and the government gave this church the opportunity to influence Dutch school education. Firstly the church used the angle of the all embracing kingdom of God in which church and school are different institutes in society but serve the same Lord. Secondly the Reformed Church also influenced school education from the viewpoint of the church as church by introducing its confessions as a point of departure and also it's discipline in schools. The other three churches opted for a say in the spiritual direction in schools, but not to tie them to a specific church. They strive for Christian and not church schools. <![CDATA[<b>Towards an Abrahamic ecumenism? the search for the universality of the divine mystery</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S1015-87582012000200014&lng=en&nrm=iso&tlng=en This contribution explores the notion of an Abrahamic ecumenism as proposed by Hans Küng and others in search for a way in which Islam, Judaism and Christianity can live peacefully together. It is argued, however, that to pursue a viable political pluralism, it is more promising for Christian theology to take into account the historical development of the image of God instead of an orientation on a common historical origin in Abraham. The elaboration of the universality of the divine mystery in history does not have to be won by going back to Abraham, but by going forward to Jesus Christ and by thinking of and living out of Him. <![CDATA[<b>Matthew's sitz <i>im Leben</i> and the emphasis on the <i>Torah</i></b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S1015-87582012000200015&lng=en&nrm=iso&tlng=en The role of the Torah is the subject of a full scale discussion in the first Gospel. This article investigates the socio-historical setting that produced this text with such an emphasis on Torah observance. To address these issues, the Matthean text is read to discover issues that were prevalent in the community where the text was produced and read. This is followed by an investigation into developments in the broader Jewish society in the second half of the first century C.E. It becomes clear that the Jewish society was fragmented, and this led to an urge to consolidate. During these developments the Torah was used by newly formed communities to define their norms of existence. In the first Gospel the author defines their position terms of specific Torah observance. While countering some form of Christian libertinism and allegations against the Torah observance of his community, he assures his community of their convictions. <![CDATA[<b>A critical assessment of John Milbank's Christology</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S1015-87582012000200016&lng=en&nrm=iso&tlng=en John Milbank is well known for attempting to develop a participatory theology. This article specifically assesses his Christology. The first section provides a synthetic explication of his Christology by focussing on his notions of participation, paradox, poesis, incarnation, the cross, and ecclesiology. The second section provides a critical assessment. The central argument is that Milbank's Christology is inadequate in a participatory sense, because it lacks particularity and personal relationality. This inadequacy is probably due to the way in which he fuses Neo-Platonism and postmodern lingualism in order to construct his ontology. In order to maintain his non-violent and poetic ontological position, Milbank needs to revert to a general, "high" and impersonal Christology, and disregard "low" Christology. However, if one's ontological construction leads to a detached Christology, which does not adequately affirm the central notion of one's theology, serious doubts arise concerning the legitimacy of one's method. <![CDATA[<b>Spiritualiteit in het Lucasevangelie</b>: <b>geschiedenis en bevrijding</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S1015-87582012000200017&lng=en&nrm=iso&tlng=en This first article of a series of three is about the spiritual nature of the gospel of Luke as a historiography. Luke presents his work as a history guided by God in which the reader of his book participates. God takes initiative in history to liberate the people of God and each of its members. The liberating character of this divine initiative is revealed in the ministry of Jesus as a Davidic king and as a prophet. At the same time the texts about Jesus as a prophet show the consequences of accepting or refusing the offer of God. In addition it becomes clear that the prophet who announces the divine liberation risks his life. The last section describes the semantic content of liberation as a theme in the gospel of Luke: it is about liberation from death and threats to life, from illness and demonical possession, from social and economic marginalization, from oppressive sabbatical laws, from everything that obstructs the alliance with God and traps one in the snares of Satan. <![CDATA[<b>Spiritualiteit in het Lucasevangelie</b>: <b>verscheidenheid en gemeenschap</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S1015-87582012000200018&lng=en&nrm=iso&tlng=en ABSTRACT The themes in the Gospel of Luke connected to building up the community are important for the intended readers who, in the last quarter of the first century, were part of Christian communities which comprised various groups. Among them there were differences in social and economic positions and in cultural and religious origins. For these intended readers the themes of poverty and wealth were of great importance. Poverty and wealth relate in the first instance to economic positions. But they could also denote spiritual openness or spiritual closeness. While the poor are oriented towards God, the rich are oriented toward themselves and focused on preserving their future. Jesus' contact with tax collectors and sinners, and the Pharisees' and scribes' opposition towards this behavior, mirror the social contact with people who have hardly or no prestige in the Christian community. Table companionship in which everyone, whatever his or her position, is allowed to participate is not only realized in Jesus' relationship with real people, it is also an image of the eschatological realization of the Kingdom of God. For the Christian communities with their many groups at the end of the first century, the liberating initiative of God becomes concrete in a community spirituality with its concern for the poor, the lowly, the not esteemed and the oppressed. This spirituality is messianic and prophetic. It is rooted in the orientation on God who has solidarity with the poor and the oppressed. At the same time this community spirituality is eschatological. For those who accept the announcement of liberation this liberation is completely realized in the coming of the Son of Man. http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S1015-87582012000200019&lng=en&nrm=iso&tlng=en