Scielo RSS <![CDATA[Studia Historiae Ecclesiasticae]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/rss.php?pid=1017-049920130002&lang=en vol. 39 num. 2 lang. en <![CDATA[SciELO Logo]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/img/en/fbpelogp.gif http://www.scielo.org.za <![CDATA[<b>Editorial</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S1017-04992013000200001&lng=en&nrm=iso&tlng=en <![CDATA[<b>The search for common understanding with regard to ecology and justice in the Uniting Reformed Church in Southern Africa</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S1017-04992013000200002&lng=en&nrm=iso&tlng=en The Uniting Reformed Church in Southern Africa (URCSA) has a long-standing commitment to ecology and justice. Since 1994, the URCSA has increasingly engaged itself on the "Justice, Peace and the Integrity of Creation" process. The URCSA is concerned about the impact of climate change, ocean change, lack of access to clean water, and resource extraction on the impoverished and vulnerable living beings. A close reading of the primary sources, namely agendas, Acts of the General Synod, booklets, sermons and media statements of the URCSA, brings various themes on ecology and justice to the fore. This article will take into account that ecology and justice are concepts that have not been traditionally held together. The goal of this article is to explore URCSA's engagement with ecology under the following subthemes: caring for the earth keeping, URCSA's response to the water crisis; URCSA's response to genetic modification of food; URCSA's response to the challenge of globalism; URCSA's response to hydraulic fracking and, lastly, the connection between ecology and justice. This article argues that ecology and justice are concepts that should be held together. <![CDATA[<b>From a farm road to a public highway</b>: <b>The Dutch Reformed Church and its changing views regarding the city and urbanisation in the first half of the 20th century (1916-1947)</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S1017-04992013000200003&lng=en&nrm=iso&tlng=en The big question which should be in every theologian's mind is: How did the Dutch Reformed Church's response to the rapid urbanisation of the Afrikaner people in the first half of the 20th century unfold and develop? This was a painful transition to the many Afrikaner volk. And in order to address this question, this article looks more closely at some of the popular booklets by Rev JR Albertyn from the 1940s, the Kerk en Stad report (1947), and the published papers and decisions of the Volkskongres of 1947. These texts give us a glimpse onto the (changing) views on the city and urbanisation within the Dutch Reformed Church, as well as within the broader Afrikaner society. This article will also highlight the possible theological convictions that played a role in an attempt to face the challenges arising from a new urban environment. This article will furthermore focus on the way in which the discourse, within the Dutch Reformed Church, which related the challenges posed by urbanisation to the so-called "race problem", was dealt with. <![CDATA[<b>Environmental management and African indigenous resources</b>: <b>echoes from Mutira Mission, Kenya (1912-2012)</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S1017-04992013000200004&lng=en&nrm=iso&tlng=en Unlike other elements of culture, European missionaries did not explicitly dismiss home-grown ways of environmental conservation as "fetish" as in the case of cultural practices such as female circumcision. Indeed, they appreciated local resources in environmental protection as "other" ways. To this end, the article sets out to show the contribution of African indigenous resources in environmental preservation with particular reference to Mutira Mission of Kirinyaga County, central Kenya, during and after the missionary era (1912-2012). In turn, the geographical area that constitutes Mutira Mission in Mount Kenya region is dominated by the largest ethnic group in Kenya, the Gikuyu, anglicised as the Kikuyu. They constitute 22% of the entire Kenyan population of about 40 million people. In its methodology, the article uses Kikuyu cultural practices such as proverbs, riddles, rituals and so forth to demonstrate African indigenous ways of environmental preservation. The problem statement being unveiled is: How unique is the African use of indigenous resources in environmental preservation; and how does the missionary era compare with the pre-missionary era? The theoretical framework in this article is informed by John S Mbiti's view of natural phenomena, where he contends that traditional Africans live in a religious environment where the cosmos is intimately associated with God. The materials in this article are largely gathered through oral interviews and archival sources. <![CDATA[<b>Environment, world-view and healing among the Zulu Christians (19<sup>th</sup> and 20<sup>th</sup> centuries)</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S1017-04992013000200005&lng=en&nrm=iso&tlng=en The basic question raised in this article is how Christians within the Zulu community seek relief from illnesses. Do they turn to plant (herbal) or animal remedies, or do they regard this as an imbalance in the mind of the person afflicted. This article touches on the sub-themes of the habitat of a Christian community, religion and food and also how to consider the place of animals and humans within a Christian community. There is in fact more said in the New Testament about evils spirits than food regulations, with the latter featuring more prominently in the Old Testament. In Bible times, sicknesses such as epilepsy would have been regarded as demon possession where as we would consider a medical intervention to solve that problem today. Nevertheless, how prevalent is faith healing today and what is the role played by the patient and the community in terms of customs and regulations held fast with the faith community being considered. Ngubane would place an emphasis on the mind and Bosch for his part discusses the place of demoniac possession as a source of suffering in the lives of believers. The people included in this study are mainly from Mariannhill, Maphumulo and the Nyswa Reserve in the Valley of a Thousand Hills in KwaZulu-Natal. This article refers to the disciplines of botany, zoology and anthropology. Therefore, the challenge for Zulu Christians is to synthesize these various disciplines into an integrated faith that is rooted within the South African context - or, perhaps even applies globally. <![CDATA[<b>The historical foundation of the mission churches and African Independent Churches in South Africa</b>: <b>matters of the church and the environment</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S1017-04992013000200006&lng=en&nrm=iso&tlng=en The missionaries established the Christian church in South Africa without access to any proper building structures. They discovered that the local people relied on the environment for their survival and sustainability, so the missionaries decided to do the same as a means to get the indigenous people to understand the importance of worship. However, it was not easy for the missionaries to adapt to the harsh African climate and conditions. The Africans had their own ways of withstanding these harsh conditions; taking shelter under trees and in caves was just part of their existence. So, to ensure that their work continued, the missionaries had no alternative but to do the same. Churches were therefore established under the trees. For some ethnic groups, these trees were significant, while for others, they carried no meaning at all. Nevertheless, the environment became part of the church structure, as trees, caves and water were used to establish the church. Although the mainline churches regarded water as an essential source of life, they viewed it differently from the African Initiated Churches. The main focus of this article, therefore, will be on the use of water as an environmental resource by both the African Independent Churches and the mission churches. In this regard, Taung became a particularly significant place. The article will focus on original material, as well as oral research from some areas where the practice of worshipping in caves and under trees is still observed. <![CDATA[<b>Revival of a kairos consciousness</b>: <b>Prolegomena to a research focus on religious and social change in post-apartheid South Africa</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S1017-04992013000200007&lng=en&nrm=iso&tlng=en My point of departure in this article is a new interest in the socio-religious reality of a reviving kairos theological tradition - or kairos consciousness - in post-apartheid South Africa, but indissolubly related to this is also an interest in the question of the potential and actual role of the country's historic mainline churches as reviving change agents. This leads me to present, firstly, an exploratory perspective on the discourse and appeals of two ecclesial letters in particular through which the leadership of a broad ecumenical representation from South Africa's mainline churches have sought in recent times to critically engage with the country's ruling party, the African National Congress (ANC). On the basis of this exploration and my claim that I regard these two letters as the boldest manifestation to date of the socio-religious reality of a reviving kairos consciousness in post-apartheid South Africa, I conclude the article by, secondly, also looking forward to an envisaged longer-term research focus that would be steered by the research question about the prospects of a reviving kairos consciousness actually becoming a meaningful catalyst of positive social change in post-apartheid South African society. More specifically, in this consideration of an envisaged longer-term research focus I identify four topical concerns that need to be taken into consideration and researched in relation to a concern with the post-apartheid kairos theme. <![CDATA[<b>A critical black analysis of the church's role in the post-apartheid struggle for socio-economic justice</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S1017-04992013000200008&lng=en&nrm=iso&tlng=en This article reflects on the role of the church in the economic justice discourse post 1994 within the context of a dominant calculative rationality. It is firstly argued that language becomes distorted as a functionary of the dominant market fundamentalism in this context. Furthermore, the saturation of pragmatist politics, equally a sign of the crippling effects of this rationality, impedes democratic impulses as it eclipses theoretical and intellectual discourse. The article demonstrates that the passages from GEAR to NGP do not portray a significant radical change in economic policy. On the contrary, 'faith' has become central in an ambiguous economic imaginary. Ecclesiastical discourse, particularly its lapse into "church theology" mode, delinks social justice from reconciliation. Against an elusive interlocutor in this context, black theology of liberation must be authentic to the plight of the scum of the earth to achieve the goals of social justice in history. <![CDATA[<b>African intermediaries</b>: <b>African evangelists, the Dutch Reformed Church, and the Evangelisation of the southern Shona in the late 19th century</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S1017-04992013000200009&lng=en&nrm=iso&tlng=en Although some Christian denominations employed more African evangelists than others, African evangelists were quite indispensable in evangelisation of many African communities in the late 19th century. In the end, it was often the case of Africans evangelising other Africans rather than a purely European enterprise. Apart from working as evangelists and lay preachers, early African converts also worked as translators, porters, guides, and aides among other jobs. This article analyses the role played by African evangelists in the evangelisation of areas to the north of the Limpopo River in the period before the colonisation of what is now Zimbabwe. It pays particular attention to the work of African evangelists working with the Dutch Reformed Church and the Berlin Missionary Society. This article also attempts to recover the voices of the African men and women through whose efforts the Dutch Reformed Church and the Berlin Missionary Society were able to establish mission stations and spread Christianity among the southern Shona prior to the colonisation of Zimbabwe. <![CDATA[<b>Theological education of nineteenth-century French Missionaries</b>: <b>an appropriation of the Catholicity of Classical Christian Theology</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S1017-04992013000200010&lng=en&nrm=iso&tlng=en The limited research on the theological education of nineteenth-century Christian missionaries, including those of the Société des Missions Evangéliques chez les peuples non-chrétiens á Paris (hereafter PEMS), is of particular interest considering the surviving, significant manuscript collections related to the missionaries - their training and teaching in Paris, France and Morija, Lesotho. This article presents the theological trajectories and historical-theological context of the PEMS missionaries together with an in-depth analysis of a recently discovered notebook of Adolphe Mabille (1836-1894); and concludes with preliminary observations of the theological education of these missionaries. <![CDATA[<b>"... they had all things in common"</b>: <b>Calvin's exposition of the community of goods in some key texts in Acts</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S1017-04992013000200011&lng=en&nrm=iso&tlng=en In an interesting text that has survived as the result of one of their regular Friday meetings (congrégations), the pastors of Geneva officially declared their position on the sensitive issue of the community of goods. After close examination it is clear that Calvin's own position on this matter is completely in line with the pastors' declaration. In this article Calvin's commentary and sermons on Acts 2:43-45, 4:32-37 and 5:1-6, in which he elaborates on his position, are investigated. During the Reformation these passages were deemed key texts regarding this issue. In his discussion of these passages, Calvin positions himself against the attitudes and actions of four groups, namely the Anabaptists, the rich (of Geneva), the poor, and the monks. These four groups, drawn from his own context, represent the extreme positions which Calvin seeks to avoid. In order to find the via media between these extremes, Calvin identifies four important concepts in Scripture that shape his own view on this matter. These are love, order, ability and need. They are intricately connected and give Calvin's position the balance he strived for. <![CDATA[<b>The role of the Dutch Reformed Mission Church and the Dutch Reformed Church in Africa in the struggle for justice in South Africa, 1986-1990</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S1017-04992013000200012&lng=en&nrm=iso&tlng=en A great deal happened in the Dutch Reformed Church (DRC) family of churches between the adoption of the Belhar Confession in 1986 and the Rustenburg Conference in November 1990. This paper uses the notion of "the church as a site of struggle" to identify three trajectories in the Dutch Reformed Church in Africa and the Dutch Reformed Mission Church with reference to involvement by their members in the struggle for justice in South Africa. A seven-dimensional praxis matrix is used to explore one of those trajectories, namely: "Standing for justice." The sources used for this exploration are mainly official church documents. <![CDATA[<b>Across the bridge</b>: <b>Polokwane Uniting Reformed Church of Southern Africa from dependency to autonomy</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S1017-04992013000200013&lng=en&nrm=iso&tlng=en The authors analyse and discuss the history of an important "Dutch Reformed Mission Church" congregation since its inauguration under the first DRC "foreign" missionary, Stephanus Hofmeyr, in the late nineteenth century until today. They argue that it was a typical "mission church" congregation, suffering under white paternalistic authority and developing the typical 'dependency syndrome'. It changed drastically in the era after 1994 and today the congregation has developed full autonomy and independence; also in financial terms. The authors see this as one of two possible models for church formation in the DRC in a democratic South Africa. <![CDATA[<b>How Vatican II renewed South African Catholicism - as perceived by <i>The Southern Cross</i> 1962-1968</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S1017-04992013000200014&lng=en&nrm=iso&tlng=en <![CDATA[<b>Struggle for justice and fullness of life</b>: <b>Catholic Social Teaching in Genesis and development of South African black theology (with specific reference to Buti Tlhagale and Mandlenkosi Zwane)</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S1017-04992013000200015&lng=en&nrm=iso&tlng=en Black theology arising in the South African apartheid context as a collective theological, vigorous and subversive reaction to the injustices of a system claiming Christian justification will be presented. Some of the inhuman deprivations imposed on black people, especially the injustice that denied them their human rights; and the restrictions that made the attainment of a fullness of life impossible will be the first focus in this article. Two black theologians, namely the South African, Buti Tlhagale and the Swazi, Mandlenkosi Zwane, discussed these issues in light of the Papal documents which expose the Catholic church's social teaching will be presented. Reaching into the biblical roots of the Christian message, they formulated a theological approach which reflects the South African and Swazi situations at the time. They also attempted to respond to the weighty problems imposed by apartheid and to offer possible solutions according to gospel values. <![CDATA[<b>The impact of Christianity on sub-Saharan Africa</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S1017-04992013000200016&lng=en&nrm=iso&tlng=en The aim of this article is to describe the impact of Christianity on sub-Saharan Africa. I shall start by first examining the key words in the title of this article, and by briefly discussing the phenomenal growth of Christianity in sub-Saharan Africa. The article further describes the impact of Christianity on sub-Saharan Africa in terms of education, socio-politics, and health; here I shall base my remarks on the history of Christian missions in the region since the late nineteen century. As far as education is concerned, this article recognises that education that focuses on holistic human development is a positive force, and a force that was introduced by Christianity. I shall also point out that Christianity initiated medical advances that improved the health of those who live in the region. Regeneration as espoused by Christianity constitutes something of great value. On the downside, Christianity led to the demise of the African customs, which it viewed as pagan and evil; the religion also led to the implementation of apartheid (to which it gave its theological support), and undermined the leadership role of women. Finally, Christianity has bedevilled race relations in Africa generally. <![CDATA[<b>AICs as a gendered space in Harare, Zimbabwe</b>: <b>revisiting the role and place of women</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S1017-04992013000200017&lng=en&nrm=iso&tlng=en This article examines the politics of space with particular reference to African Independent Churches (AICs) in the city of Harare. This stems from the notion that AICs in the city tend to occupy the margins and outer spaces. On the one hand, this article argues that this location of the periphery compounds the marginality of women in these churches as they also occupy the margins within the hierarchies of the church in terms of leadership. This article's assumptions are that, in AICs, men dominate most of the religious space. Women tend to fill in the less important spheres and, at times, are mere followers. On the other hand, despite this male dominance, women have begun to reclaim some power that they had earlier on enjoyed in traditional religions. <![CDATA[<b>The problematic nature of divorcing life from life</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S1017-04992013000200018&lng=en&nrm=iso&tlng=en This article argues that the problem of divorcing religion and society is not African by nature. The argument is based on an African understanding that both religion and politics are part of our lives. Moreover, the article argues that secularism is not a problem for a traditional African as the non-mentioning of religion does not necessarily declare a non-religious state. In essence, the article argues that the non-mentioning of religion points to the core of religion as being assumed since those members of political parties and legislatures are influenced by their worldviews. <![CDATA[<b>The role played by Church and State in the democratisation process in Mozambique, 1975-2004</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S1017-04992013000200019&lng=en&nrm=iso&tlng=en The political action of citizens individually or collectively is always determined by a multiplicity of factors. These are first, political socialisation; second, the logic of the dominant political culture in the society; third, factors of an ideological nature; and fourth, religious factors. In the particular case of Mozambique it can be seen that from independence in 1975, the political and religious dimensions went through several changes. In the political area, the changes were observed more profoundly after the independence of the country under the orientation of FRELIMO, the political party in power. From that moment until 1990, the country was governed by the domination of one political party under a Marxist system of socialism. In the religious arena, the domination of the Roman Catholic Church was observed prior to independence since it was working together with the dominators (Portuguese), and other Christian religions were persecuted by this church. However, after independence another dimension became a changing force within the country. First of all, the relationship between FRELIMO and the church was poor. Second, from 1982 the relationship started to take on a more positive nature. The questions that then arose were the following: What are the factors that might have contributed to this changed situation? How can this dimension be explained? What are the implications of these changes? <![CDATA[<b>The Natives Land Act of 1913 engineered the poverty of Black South Africans</b>: <b>a historico-ecclesiastical perspective</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S1017-04992013000200020&lng=en&nrm=iso&tlng=en The legacy of socio-economic injustice which was inherited from the Natives Land Act of 1913 continues to haunt the majority of black South Africans. The land dispossession of the indigenous people of South Africa under this Act caused poverty which is still prevalent in our country today. Many South Africans, especially black South Africans, are trapped in a cycle of poverty that emerged as a result of our history of colonialism and apartheid. The interrogation of the unsettling discourse on land in South Africa as well as the continuous poverty cycle is fundamental for offering empowering possibilities for the poor. As such, the role played by the South African churches to support and/or oppose the Natives Land Act of 1913 cannot be ignored. The main question engaged with in the present text is: if the issue of poverty, as foregrounded in the discourse of land and within the ecclesial discussion, is engaged with from a historico-ecclesiastical² perspective, could the discourse provide a valuable contribution towards poverty alleviation in South Africa? <![CDATA[<b>The history of theologised politics of South Africa, the 1913 Land Act and its impact on the flight from the black self</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S1017-04992013000200021&lng=en&nrm=iso&tlng=en This article is an attempt to examine the role and impact of the history of theologised politics in South Africa and the 1913 Land Act and its impact on the flight from the black self. This is done specifically to locate the question of land and land dispossession of black South Africans that, according to the author of this article, resulted from the theologised politics of South Africa. It is the contention of the author that land dispossession, which was officialised in South Africa with the passing of the 1913 Land Act, was chiefly responsible for the "flight from the black self". This is crucial, simply because the author is of the view that land dispossession had a terrible impact on black people's self-worth. It is for this reason that the author argues that black people in the main have internalised oppression. On the basis of this, the author surmises that Apartheid, which was rationalised as being biblically and theologically sanctioned, precipitated the 1913 Land Act and in turn the flight from the black self. It is in this context of the flight from the black self that we must understand the assertion that there are many South Africans within one South Africa. <![CDATA[<b>Mistieke elemente in Dante se <i>Divina Commedia,</i> met verwysing na die <i>Inferno</i></b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S1017-04992013000200022&lng=en&nrm=iso&tlng=en Dante's Commedia represents one of the great classical works of the Middle Ages, and renewed interest in this work has been stimulated by the recent publication of Dan Brown's novel Inferno. This article explores some of the main theological influences in Dante's Inferno with special focus on mystical elements underlying the work. This is done in dialogue with the ideas of JS Kruger as it comes to the fore in his recent translation of the Inferno into Afrikaans. He proposes that the Inferno is mystically inclined (tendensie) although the explanation of these mystical elements may transcend the apparent intention (intensie) of the work. Kruger brings a wide horizon of mystical traditions into play spanning all religions and historical periods. He identifies common mystical elements that Dante shares with these traditions. Attention is also given to the idea of Ungrund (the groundless), the Absolute and Infinitive. The article expands on some theological motives in Dante's work. Dante's combination of historical facts with imaginative depictions thereof is compared with the notion of immanent transcendence. Immanent transcendence in this context describes the movement from the quotidian and historical to the imaginative transcendent world that accommodates the mystical. Reference is made to the role of human biology, science and the subconscious in Dante's work. In this context, dream and dance is suggested as important mystical metaphors. http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S1017-04992013000200023&lng=en&nrm=iso&tlng=en Dante's Commedia represents one of the great classical works of the Middle Ages, and renewed interest in this work has been stimulated by the recent publication of Dan Brown's novel Inferno. This article explores some of the main theological influences in Dante's Inferno with special focus on mystical elements underlying the work. This is done in dialogue with the ideas of JS Kruger as it comes to the fore in his recent translation of the Inferno into Afrikaans. He proposes that the Inferno is mystically inclined (tendensie) although the explanation of these mystical elements may transcend the apparent intention (intensie) of the work. Kruger brings a wide horizon of mystical traditions into play spanning all religions and historical periods. He identifies common mystical elements that Dante shares with these traditions. Attention is also given to the idea of Ungrund (the groundless), the Absolute and Infinitive. The article expands on some theological motives in Dante's work. Dante's combination of historical facts with imaginative depictions thereof is compared with the notion of immanent transcendence. Immanent transcendence in this context describes the movement from the quotidian and historical to the imaginative transcendent world that accommodates the mystical. Reference is made to the role of human biology, science and the subconscious in Dante's work. In this context, dream and dance is suggested as important mystical metaphors.