Scielo RSS <![CDATA[Studia Historiae Ecclesiasticae]]> vol. 41 num. 2 lang. es <![CDATA[SciELO Logo]]> <![CDATA[<b>SHE 41.2 November 2015</b>]]> <![CDATA[<b>Against all odds: Alphaeus Zulu and racism in church and society</b>]]> This article examines the response of Bishop Alphaeus Hamilton Zulu to the racism that was prevalent in both the church and society when he was elected as the first African Bishop of the Anglican Church in South Africa. Clergy, especially bishops, are by virtue of their ecclesial positions expected to transcend racial prejudices, to embrace all members of their churches and to transform their churches to multi-racial ones. This means that they have to deal with racial stereotypes both within the church and society at large. This study is based on interviews with key leaders of the Anglican Church who knew and worked with Bishop Zulu, as well as an analysis of media releases and minutes of meetings that he was part of and some that were written about him. This article argues that Bishop Zulu played a pivotal role in the fight against racism, through his episcopal ministry which brought politics and religion into a creative tension, when he worked as bishop, speaker of the Legislative Assembly in Natal and key founder of the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP). It also argues that church leaders must hold politics and religion together for their ministry to bring transformation to both the church and society. <![CDATA[<b>Forecasting the future of religion in the 1920s: Ramsden Balmforth's post-orthodox prognostications</b>]]> Standing at the apogee of post-Protestant theological liberalism, the scholarly Unitarian minister Ramsden Balmforth, who served the Unitarian Church in Cape Town from 1897 until 1937, responded to a broad spectrum of issues affecting South African religious, political and economic life. Having been moulded by Fabian socialism in his native Yorkshire, however, and informed by the theology of such denominational fellows as Joseph Estlin Carpenter during his student years in Oxford, he remained relatively marginalised on the ecclesiastical landscape of South Africa. Despite this quasi-isolation, Balmforth sought in the late 1920s to predict the future of Christianity or religious life generally not only in his adopted homeland, but also on an international scale. In the present article his conceptualisation is analysed in the historical context of his theological liberalism generally, and a critique of his prognostications is offered which highlights Balmforth's failure to come to grips with the fact that his liberalism, which he regarded as a virtually inevitable product of cultural history, had failed to make nearly any inroads on the increasingly complex kaleidoscope of South African Christianity. <![CDATA[<b>Trinitarian doxology: Reassessing John Owen's contribution to Reformed orthodox trinitarian theology</b>]]> Reformed orthodox theologian Gisbertus Voetius (1589-1676) referred to the doctrine of the Trinity as 'the foundation of fundamentals'. Richard Muller notes that if any dogma comes close to achieving such status, it is the doctrine of the Trinity. It is thus surprising that most modern treatments of trinitarian theology assume that sixteenth and seventeenth century Reformed orthodoxy had virtually nothing to contribute to this vital doctrine. The recent Cambridge Companion to the Trinity and the Oxford Handbook of the Trinity both reflect this assumption. This article addresses how Reformed authors tried to harmonise the historical doctrine of the Trinity with their principle of sola scriptura. It does not treat positive developments or applications of the doctrine. The void left in the secondary literature has not adequately probed the bold claims of Voetius or the scholarly reflections of Muller. John Owen (1616-1683) is a growing exception to this trend. Both historians and theologians are starting to recognise his significance as a theologian in general and a trinitarian theologian in particular, but they often stop short of observing how he intertwined his trinitarian theology and piety throughout his writings. This article will reassess Owen's contribution to Reformed trinitarian theology in two major segments. The first does so by critiquing two recent treatments of his work. The remaining material explores the theological foundations of Owen's trinitarian doxology followed by the theological and practical conclusions that he drew from his theology in relation to Scripture, spiritual affections, covenant theology, and ecclesiology. Owen illustrates that one of the primary contributions of Reformed orthodoxy to trinitarian theology lies in its integration into Reformed soteriology and piety. This article reassesses Owen's contribution to trinitarian theology and provides clues for scholars to trace the significance of the Reformed contribution to trinitarian theology in other authors within that tradition. <![CDATA[<b>An encounter between black theology and reformed theology: The involvement of Govender, Mazamisa, Mofokeng and Ntoane</b>]]> During the nineteen eighties numerous meaningful booklets were published by Christian groups on social analysis and against an apartheid society. Less known, but extremely powerful, four black Dutch Reformed theologians wrote similar sophisticated doctorate theses. This article delineates the gist of these messages to honour Takatso Mofokeng. The urgent question is also whether these alarming analyses and bone-cutting witnesses would be relevant for the contemporary situation regarding the horrific violence, un-arrested poverty, unemployment, rampant 'official' theft and crime. The outcome is that this type of hermeneutics keeps the dream of freedom alive and rekindles hope towards renewal. <![CDATA[<b>Sacralisation and the colonial-indigenous encounter in Southern African Christian history: The memory and legacy of Johannes du Plessis as case study</b>]]> The role of the Dutch Reformed Church's mission policies in the development of apartheid ideology has in recent times come under increased scrutiny. In terms of the formulation of missionary theory within the DRC, the controversial figure of Johannes du Plessis played a significant role in the early twentieth century. In addition to his work as a mission theorist, Du Plessis was a biblical scholar at Stellenbosch University who was found guilty of heresy by his church body, despite having much support from the rank and file membership. This article asks questions regarding the ways in which his memory and legacy are often evaluated from the twin, yet opposing perspectives of sacralisation and vilification. It also considers the wider intellectual influences on Du Plessis such as the missiology of the German theologian, Gustav Warneck. Du Plessis's missionary theory helped to lay the groundwork for the later development of apartheid ideology, but perhaps in spite of himself, he also introduced a subverting discourse into Dutch Reformed theology. Some of the incidental consequences of this discourse, particularly in relation to the emerging theme of indigenous knowledge, are furthermore assessed here. <![CDATA[<b>What can we learn from a narrative reinterpretation of a mission (hi)story? Reflecting on the mission history of the Dutch Reformed Church according to Willem Saayman</b>]]> On 16 May 2015, the well-known missiologist, Willem Saayman, passed away. In this article, his overview of the Dutch Reformed Church (DRC) mission history, Being Missionary, Being Human (2007), is revisited from the perspective of the narrative theory of White and Epston. This reinterpretation rests on the notion that history and religious traditions are structured as narratives that are open for interpretation and reinterpretation. As Saayman depicted the DRC mission history as a problem-saturated narrative, it is argued that unique outcomes also reside within this problem-saturated narrative, creating the possibility for the re-authoring of a liberated mission narrative. It is suggested that the narrative strategies of externalisation and co-authoring can be instrumental in attaining a mission narrative that is truly human. <![CDATA[<b>'Surely, goodness and mercy shall follow me...': Reading Psalm 23:6 in conversation with John Wesley</b>]]> On the understanding that the addressees of Psalm 23 experienced the challenges of poverty, corruption, injustices and conflict, the interest of this article lies at asking three cardinal questions: First, what Imago Dei does Ps 23 present in the context of poverty, corruption, injustice and conflict, and more importantly with respect to the 'goodness and mercy' of YHWH? Second, how does the idea of 'goodness and mercy' (cf. Ps 23:6) relate to John Wesley's theology on the 'works of mercy' and 'doing good' - particularly in light of the mission imperatives of the Methodist Church of Southern Africa? Third, how could the Methodist people be the interlocutors of 'goodness and mercy' in South Africa today? <![CDATA[<b>A journey of the people of Bethany marked by dispossession, struggle for return of land and continued impoverishment: A case study of land reform that has not yet reduced poverty</b>]]> This article investigates the history of the farm Bethany in the Free State (a province of South Africa), which was the first mission station of the Berlin Mission Society. It traces its history from the time when Adam Kok II allocated the farm to the Mission Society for the purpose of spreading the gospel to the indigenous people, and to its dispossession through the forced removals of 1939 and later in the 1960s. It argues that the history of the community is a journey from a community that was economically sustainable before the forced removal, to a journey of impoverishment caused by dispossession. After successful restitution of the farm in 1998, the community continues to be impoverished. The article argues for a restitution process that reduces and eliminates poverty and it challenges the Department of Land Affairs to partner with communities that have returned to their ancestral lands. In this partnership the weak and inadequate post-settlement support must be reviewed and improved in view of ensuring that livelihoods are enhanced and poverty reduced, if not eliminated. The article also challenges the Evangelical Lutheran Church, which still owns part of the farm through its Property Management Committee, to equally partner with the community members of whom the majority are members of the Lutheran Church. <![CDATA[<b>The history of the conquering of the being of Africans through land dispossession, epistemicide and proselytisation</b>]]> This paper examines the role of colonisation in the conquering of the Being of Africans. It is pointed out that the colonisation of Africa became possible only because the church - particularly the Catholic Church and the Protestants -gave backing to it. Colonialism and Christianity are often associated because Catholicism and Protestanism were the religions of the colonial powers. Thus Christianity gave moral and ethical foundation to the enslavement of Africans. Colonisation is a concept which involves the idea of organising and arranging, which etymologically means to cultivate or to design. Therefore, it is the contention of this paper that this organising and arranging of colonies had a dire impact on the Being of the African people. Colonisation manifests itself through land dispossession (which in South Africa was given theological backing by the Dutch Reformed Church), epistemicide and proselytisation. Colonisation was informed by the idea of the scramble for Africa, which was blessed and commissioned particularly by the Catholic Church; and the notion of geopolitics of space, according to which the world has been divided by Europeans into two - namely the centre (occupied by the Europeans) and the periphery (occupied by non-Europeans). This division was informed by the articulation that 'I conquer; therefore I am the sovereign'. Therefore, following the ego conquiro (i.e. I conquer), which was followed by the Cartesian ego Cogito (i.e. I think) then those who possess both the ego conquiro and ego cogito felt justified to colonise those who lacked these. This was felt in Africa through land dispossession, and Africans were forced to go through a violent process which alienated them from their ancestral land. Land is ancestral in the Being of the African people, and therefore any disturbance to the relation between the land and the Africans will result in them losing their Being (or self) - becoming pariahs in their ancestral land. This made them a conquered people and empty shells that accepted everything coming their way. It is against this background that the paper will explore the role of colonisation in the conquering of the Being of Africans through land dispossession, epistemicide and proselytisation. <![CDATA[<b>The church and sustainable development in sub-Saharan Africa</b>]]> The snail-pace of social and economic development within sub-Saharan Africa is of major concern not only to the development community, but to all who have the continent's well-being at heart. Various attempts (many rather elusive) at diagnosis and prescription of the right antidotes to the problem have been made for decades. This paper, however, shares Jeffrey Sachs's optimism in End of Poverty with the point of departure being that organised religion holds the key to a reversal of the trend. The paper explores the impact of religious beliefs on the development of some communities in the past and the present before concluding that Christianity could unlock the prospects to sub-Saharan Africa's economic fortunes. In the view of this researcher, African theological reflections, in response to the challenges of endemic corruption, nepotism, superstition, and bad work ethics on the continent, must be grounded in the language, traditional beliefs, values and practices (i.e. culture) of the people as grounds for integration with the modern scientific and technological advancement that confronts the continent. This underscores the need for Christianity itself to become that culture which is willing to accommodate a consciously reconstructed past as the pathway to a developed future. <![CDATA[<b>The place of women ministers in the mission of the Methodist Church of Southern Africa</b>]]> This paper proposes that the ministry of ordained women within the Methodist Church of Southern Africa (MCSA) has not fully integrated women, despite the landmark decision of the MCSA Conference of 1972 to have women ordained into the full ministry of the church. At that Methodist Conference of 1972, the Methodist Church adopted a resolution to have women ordained into the ministry of the church, and yet this has not been fully realised in the life of the MCSA. Despite the fact that women form the majority of the people who come to church on Sundays, they form a very small group within ministers' ranks. We will investigate the challenges within the MCSA that slow down its policy on the ordination of women. The paper proposes the tools that can be used to address the challenges with regard to the full acceptance of women ministers within the MCSA. Furthermore, it investigates the organisational structure of the Women's Manyano as a means for women to protest against their exclusion from full participation in the life and leadership of the church. Although what women have learnt and practise within their own women organisation has not infiltrated into the full life of the Methodist Church, they have become a force to reckon with in the MCSA. The paper traces the causes of the marginalisation of women within the Methodist Church to patriarchal and cultural stereotypes that are determining the reading and understanding of the biblical text. Human nature is a condition that needs to be checked regularly in order to remove those elements that are human-made, self-serving and limiting. Some examples of psychological and cultural elements are cited as a basis for reflection and a launch pad for women empowerment, and for the transformation of the MCSA and its policy on the ministry of ordained women. <![CDATA[<b>Ethiopianism in Pan-African perspective, 1880-1920</b>]]> <![CDATA[<b>Religion, leadership and struggle for power in Nigeria: A case study of the 2011 presidential election in Nigeria</b>]]> The crisis of leadership today in Nigeria provides a formidable challenge to political and other social scientists. Between 1999 and 2015 several elections have been held with many leaders elected and sworn into office; with interactions between religion and politics the ongoing subject of academic analysis (Abubakar 1984; Igboin 2012; Kukah 1998; Oguntola-Laguda 2008; and so forth). Political office holders often drew on religious ideas, practices and symbols as a tool of negotiation with the electorate during political campaigns. As a result, candidates were often selected based on their religious rhetoric and affiliations. Thus the debate about Muslim/Muslim or Muslim/Christian tickets emerged as a key issue in the elections. Religious leaders are often political actors in the elections. There were several media allegations that some religious leaders were complicit in compromising and corrupting the electoral process. Many prophetic statements preceded the 2011 elections. For example, the prominent Pentecostal leader and presidential candidate, Pastor Kris Okotie, the general overseer of Household of God Church in Lagos, prophesied (unsuccessfully) that he would be sworn in as president after the election. In this paper we will examine how political leaders managed (or manipulated) their religious claims and allegiances in the pre- and post-election periods in 2011, against the backdrop of a religiously pluralistic setting such as Nigeria, and the resultant contradictions. Particular attention will be paid to the concepts of power and authority, as these are central to both worlds of religion and politics. Additionally, I will discuss the varying differentiations of the religious and political domains in the political process, campaign speeches, sermons and prophecies, perceptions of individual politicians, as well as media and popular opinion.