Scielo RSS <![CDATA[Studia Historiae Ecclesiasticae]]> vol. 39 num. lang. en <![CDATA[SciELO Logo]]> <![CDATA[<b>The South African Science and Religion Forum: A memoir</b>]]> <![CDATA[<b>Cornel du Toit's Science and Religion contribution in the lens of the Divine Action Project: The advantage of limited aims and epistemological diversity</b>]]> Cornel du Toit is the doyen of the science and religion debate in South Africa. He has led this debate by organising the South African Science and Religion Forum, and its conferences and publications, since 1993 to the present. Over the same time period, the Divine Action Project (DAP) was a signpost series of conferences, focussing the effort of a significant section of the religion and science community on establishing common ground in one area of research. This paper notes appreciatively the contribution in the standardisation of vocabulary and identification of the different options in this field this series has made. It also attempts to identify and critique the shared assumptions behind the project as ultimately confined to the fundamental assumptions of modernity, thereby constraining its results to the aporia the conference does, in the end, result in. Some suggestions are developed from the aporia observed. This critique is used as a lens to appreciate the epistemological diversity in Du Toit's contribution to the Science and Religion debate. His more modest aims and his greater recognition of the diverse modes of legitimate perception and thinking could enhance the international debate, if taken seriously. <![CDATA[<b>The bio-century challenge: Life in a holistic context. In conversation with Cornel du Toit</b>]]> My engagement in this article with the South African systematic theologian Cornel du Toit in recognition of his valued scholarship is restricted to only two of his contributions in the context of the science-theology debate. The first of these are his recent unpublished paper Immanent transcendence and the nature of life: developments from Schrödinger to Kauffman (April 2012) delivered in Tartu, Estonia. In this contribution Du Toit points towards a challenging way and direction in which reflection on life should be pursued, namely holistically in a bio-century. The second of Du Toit's contributions discussed in this article is his thoughts on life in Values in the science-religion dialogue: biological roots of human nature and interaction with cultural environment. Here he focuses on the biological roots of life-supporting values. I subsequently ask what specific theological contribution can be made to a redefinition of life in the context of the science-theology debate. In my conversation with Du Toit a brief account is given of his argument for a redefinition of life. Broad outlines are then given to suggest how theological thoughts about life can contribute to its redefinition. Lastly the case for the integration of the constitutive importance of affectivity in any effort to redefine life holistically is argued. <![CDATA[<b>A semiotic notion of transcendence</b>]]> As the title indicates, this contribution explores a semiotic notion of transcendence. It is argued that experiences of transcendence are quite common and that notions of transcendence are highly significant since they provide a frame of reference that enables us to comprehend that which is immanent. The possibility of referring to that which transcends reality as such is contested, but all notions of a referent are elusive. On the basis of such observations various models of transcendence are identified before a semiotic notion is explored in more depth. It is suggested that the signified transcends the signifier by far and that some form of referent is necessary unless language is to become solipsistic. If so, there may be a need for clues to that which transcends reality as such. <![CDATA[<b>The search for truth: In conversation with Cornel du Toit</b>]]> Cornel du Toit is an exploratory thinker. He is a wide thinker, who refuses to be confined by the limitations of a specific discipline or dogma. In the years that I have worked with Du Toit, I have found his work to be innovative and fresh, ground-breaking and constantly testing the limits of convention. It is such a mind that is helpful in the tensions between science and religion, between religion and politics, and between existentialism and metaphysics. Underlying his work is the nugget which drives every researcher: a quest for the truth. In this article I wish to celebrate the work of Cornel du Toit by commenting on the different ways he has grappled with the question of truth, while holding the reins of the bucking horses called religion and science. I will do so by describing Du Toit's perspectives of the locus of truth in religion and science, and his exploration of the tension between these two entities. I conclude with ideas about the direction in which our understanding of truth in science and religion may be heading. <![CDATA[<b>The meaning and challenge of the quest for extraterrestrials</b>]]> Today, human beings are venturing into deep space. As questioning beings who continuously seek to transcend ourselves, and as the scientific quest for extraterrestrials continues, we are prompted to philosophise about extraterrestrials in the event of detection. The search for extraterrestrials is also a search for ourselves. What is it to be human? This question is highlighted in arguments for and against this quest and in the discussion about communication with extraterrestrials. Constraints and convergence in our evolutionary context and a galaxy with so many similarities make a too different alien science unlikely. Aliens cannot be too alien. Strict protocols are in place before sightings can be confirmed. Some results seem very promising, others not. The detection of cosmic companions in our galaxy will bring humans together like never before. <![CDATA[<b>God-consciousness in terms of a "new natural theology"</b>]]> Can a "new natural theology", based on the approach of "experiential realism", accommodate a personal concept of God? Assuming that human knowledge is located in synaptic networks of the brain, the question is how it got there. According to developmental psychology, the experience of 'mother' during infancy as an ever available caregiver lies at the root of God-consciousness. The article questions the adequacy of this theory in three ways. First, God stands for the 'source and destiny' of the "whole" of reality. This is catered for by the prenatal experience of the womb, rather than the experience of "mother". Second, the theory omits the infant experience of the "father", which is critical for God-consciousness in the Jewish-Christian-Muslim tradition. Third, the image of the ever available "caregiver" is seriously deficient in terms of the biblical faith. This shows that the formal synaptic structure is filled with content at a higher level of emergence through the communication of a religious tradition. <![CDATA[<b>Faith matters: Two aspects of the present theological scene in South Africa</b>]]> Dedicated to Cornel du Toit, this article identifies two trends in theology which play a role in South Africa. The first trend is a possible move from or within the post-modernist cultural phase to a neo-essentialist or critical realist basic frame of understanding which suits theology as intellectual pursuit well. The second trend is in contextual theology, which - with the bibliological sciences as example - tends to move too far away from its central specialism to make meaningful contributions to the (South) African scene. By focussing on its strengths, however, theology can be a contextually valuable discussion partner in South Africa. It also fits in well with the current move from or within post-modernism, identified as the first trend, in which theology has just as valid a place as any of the other traditional academic fields. <![CDATA[<b>Poverty eradication and the Bible in context: A serious challenge</b>]]> This article endeavours to reflect seriously on poverty in its ancient (biblical) and present-day contexts, and is motivated by the notion that present-day believers (whether Jewish or Christian) want their acknowledgement of the status of the Bible to contribute to the eradication of poverty in its present-day contexts. In this article, I shall briefly discuss the various terms for poverty used in the Bible, and I shall then reflect upon present-day definitions and distinctions. After a brief review of the (ancient) historical context of Israel (and the contemporary survival measures as revealed by archaeology), I shall then focus, again, on the present-day world, including the situation in South Africa. Only serious continued reflection can lead, ultimately, to any form of action. <![CDATA[<b>The historical voices of the African Independent Churches: Towards new development</b>]]> In the first publication by Bengt Sundkler in 1964, the AICs were regarded as interesting sectarian groups, fit to repent and to be incorporated into the mainstream churches. There have since been numerous debates on the AICs, but with very little or no impression made on them. However, their interest in having their voices heard has emerged from debates at the respective universities and colleges in South Africa. The booklet entitled AIC speaking for ourselves was one such outcome. In this booklet the AICs expressed their own views and history. In 1998, Du Toit¹ of the Research Institute for Theology and Religion and Archbishop Ngada of the AIC published selected conference proceedings on the AICs concerns; this was done in a publication entitled Hearing the AIC voice. It was followed by the Multi Event in Cape Town in 1999 where the AICs, together with other grassroots communities, made their voices heard, in order to be included in South African public policy by the policy makers. The AICs were confident that their public vote was their strength as it proved in the 1994 democratic elections. This article discusses the developmental changes and the emergence of the AIC's voices. The critical observation- and literature review methods were used in this article. <![CDATA[<b>Safe spaces for women in the church: The case of Dullstroom-Emnotweni</b>]]> For the 100 co-researchers in Dullstroom-Emnotweni who participate in a project called "Women's space in the church", the relationship between men and women of faith is one of political correctness. However, at home the man is the head of the household, and a good woman is seen as one that cares for her family and respects her husband, while he is the provider. The women identify with Mary in her role as the mother of Jesus while not feeling attracted to the powerful or "political" women of the Bible. Although there is a strong "human rights' generation" present in the church that looks after the rights of women in terms of abuse, in practice the women do not seem to be safe in terms of their right to insist on safe sex, and the churches do not offer structural assistance in cases of rape or physical abuse. The women do not seem to have leadership aspirations in the church, or do not have the freedom to express these aspirations, although the men seem to be scared that such aspirations may exist. In spite of these fears and all the fighting and gossiping that seem to be rife in some of the congregations, both men and women emphasise that they feel safe in the church. This article describes the research results of this project and briefly considers the premises of nego-feminism which negotiates space between men and women based on the intersectionality of their indigenous abilities as a way forward for creating space for women in the church. <![CDATA[<b>Little faith as an alternating state of religious consciousness: A pragmatic-empirical perspective on Matthew's portrayal of Jesus' disciples</b>]]> This article argues that "fear" can be understood as an alternate state of religious consciousness. The aim is to demonstrate that fear is central to the state of being of Jesus' disciples when their religious experience is characterised as "little faith" in the Gospel of Matthew. The nature of religious experience is explained by means of William James's understanding of critical-empirical epistemology. A general overview is given of what alternating states of consciousness are. From the perspective of a radical-empirical approach to experienced reality, a distinction is made between an alternation in a state of consciousness and an alternation in phenomenal property. This insight is applied to that passage in the Gospel of Matthew where the implications of fear for the experiences of the disciples can be observed most clearly, namely Mt 13:53-17:27. In this passage their state of being is described as "little faith", and it is suggested that the integrity of their message would not be accepted unless they overcome their fear. Transcendence of fear implies an alternation in phenomenal property. The article concludes with an illustration that "little faith", which is "fear", can be the psychological consequence of political hegemony on religious experience, both in antiquity and today. <![CDATA[<b>A brief history of belief in the Devil (950 BCE - 70 CE)</b>]]> It is strange but true: belief in the Devil is alive. This fact is brilliantly argued by Robert Muchembled in his book A History of the Devil: From the Middle Ages to the Present (2003). He says: "In fact, for almost a thousand years, he had never really gone away. The devil has been part of the fabric of European life since the Middle Ages, and has accompanied all its major changes" (Muchembled 2003:1). This article presents a brief history of the origin and development of the belief in Satan from the First Temple period (950-586 BCE) to the Second Temple period (539 BCE-70 CE) in order to answer the questions: When did the belief in the Satan appear? Could Judaism and Christianity do without this character? <![CDATA[<b>Speaking God at a public university in South Africa: The challenge of epistemological transformation</b>]]> Institutions of higher learning have not escaped the transformation of South African society. However, voices of concern are often heard that the knowledge produced does not reflect the ethos of the new political dispensation. This article addresses one specific challenge for theology at a public university, namely the question as to how the discourse on the divine should reflect the imperative of epistemological transformation and serve the common good. Formally, it is suggested that the nature of the theological activity, the function of the God-symbol and the impact of God-images be considered carefully. Materially, there is an argument that favours a discourse which is sensitive to religious inclusivity, a genealogical approach to notions of the divine, multidisciplinary conversation and the challenge of alterity. Finally, the article emphasises that these formal and material guidelines for a Christian theological discourse be explored along trinitarian avenues. <![CDATA[<b>Articles in accredited journals</b>]]> Institutions of higher learning have not escaped the transformation of South African society. However, voices of concern are often heard that the knowledge produced does not reflect the ethos of the new political dispensation. This article addresses one specific challenge for theology at a public university, namely the question as to how the discourse on the divine should reflect the imperative of epistemological transformation and serve the common good. Formally, it is suggested that the nature of the theological activity, the function of the God-symbol and the impact of God-images be considered carefully. Materially, there is an argument that favours a discourse which is sensitive to religious inclusivity, a genealogical approach to notions of the divine, multidisciplinary conversation and the challenge of alterity. Finally, the article emphasises that these formal and material guidelines for a Christian theological discourse be explored along trinitarian avenues. <![CDATA[<b>Apartheid: Resistance and acquiescence. St Paul's Theological College, Grahamstown, 1973-1985</b>]]> In this article, I shall analyse the response of St Paul's Anglican Theological College in Grahamstown, South Africa, to the sociopolitical issues that unfolded in that country from 1973 to 1985. I shall argue that the College's response was one of resistance and, sometimes, acquiescence to some of the policies of apartheid and to the impact of these policies on the South African population. I shall illustrate that the racial tensions that sometimes surfaced to a certain extent reflected the fact that the College was a microcosm of wider society, a society characterised by the tensions, contradictions and paradoxes inherent in apartheid. <![CDATA[<b>Agonies of structural and leadership formation in responding to HIV and AIDS between 1990 and 2000: A historiorganisational perspective</b>]]> In 1990, the Southern Africa Catholic Bishops' Conference (SACBC) resolved to respond urgently to the contextual crisis brought about by HIV and AIDS. It envisioned a new structure and leadership that would spearhead this response. However, the bishops did not foresee that this process would be marred by condom controversies, protracted labour court cases and financial donor withdrawals. In this article, I unravel a deluge of archival materials from SACBC's archive located at its headquarters in Khanya House, Pretoria, South Africa, as well as a number of oral interviews from relevant Catholic clerics and practitioners. I argue that, whereas causes for the delay in the process of establishing a structure and leadership were multifaceted, the persistent determination of the hierarchy to protect a traditionally held sexual ethos of the Catholic organisation in the midst of a fast-changing context on account of HIV and AIDS was a key factor. The power interplay thereof and the suppression of dissenting voices are not unique to the SACBC as a formal religious organisation. <![CDATA[<b>The journey of South African women academics with a particular focus on women academics in theological education</b>]]> The aims of this article are twofold. Firstly, in this article, I shall examine the historical experiences of discrimination against women academics in higher education in South Africa, which will include discussing their experiences of discrimination in the present dispensation. Secondly, I shall hone in on a specific area within higher education - the historical experiences of women academics within faculties of theology in institutions of higher education in South Africa. I shall argue that their experiences constitute a dynamic narrative that challenges conventional understandings of the "breeding ground" of race, class and gender discrimination in South African institutions of higher education. I shall also propose two areas of concern which, if addressed, would make possible the creation of environments that would support, rather than hinder and prejudice, those most marginalised under apartheid. <![CDATA[<b>Meeting the Cowboy Turned Renegade Missionary: William Cullen Wilcox</b>]]> The Rev. William Cullen Wilcox is a relatively unknown missionary of the American Board Mission. He left an indelible legacy in South Africa as an initiator of mission stations, a land activist, and mentor to John Langalibalele Dube, the first president of the African National Congress. He lived and worked in South Africa for over 40 years after which he returned home to California with nothing to show for his work among the poor black people of South Africa whom he had served. It was only seventy years later that his story was brought to the attention of the South African church and government, which led to President Zuma bestowing on him the order of the Companions of Oliver Tambo. This article offers a brief profile of Rev Wilcox as a progressive political missionary and highlights his contribution to the struggle of the African people for self-determination. <![CDATA[<b>The centenary of Amadodana in the Methodist Church of Southern Africa: Development and influence of this movement</b>]]> The establishment of the mining industry in South Africa gave birth to a new movement in the Methodist Church, a movement that was mainly made up of men. This movement emerged as a result of men in the mining compounds who found themselves with nothing to do during the weekends. Some felt the need to be creative and to ensure that their spiritual needs were met. They thought of a solution: a new way of worshipping and praising God in a unique form. A group of young men came together and discussed how they could go about mobilising men in the mines to be part of this initiative. This article investigates the history of Amadodana in the Methodist Church: their struggle to be recognised and accepted, the first meetings which led to the establishment of the regular conventions, and further developments which kept the movement growing far beyond initial expectations. The adoption of their uniform was a significant event for the Band (later the Young Men's Guild, also abbreviated as YMG), known popularly as 'Amadodana', as was the development of the constitution. At the end of this article, I come to certain conclusions based on my discussion in the main body of the article. <![CDATA[<b>Victorian biblical scholarship in twentieth-century South Africa: Ramsden Balmforth's advocacy of New Testament higher criticism</b>]]> Debates in South Africa over Biblical scholarship have often been a subject of historical inquiry. John Colenso's challenges to the Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch are well known, and in the Dutch Reformed tradition significant work has been done on such topics as the controversial Stellenbosch theologian Johannes du Plessis. The present article deals with central themes in the New Testament scholarship of a very liberal, Oxford-educated transplant, Ramsden Balmforth, who served as minister of the Unitarian Church in Cape Town from 1897 until 1937 and wrote several books about the Bible. The focus is on his advocacy of higher criticism (or historical criticism) of the New Testament and, within this, his emphasis on agapeist ethics of Jesus as the essential core of Christianity. This is historically contextualised by, inter alia, considerations of his reactions to the "fundamentalism" of the 1920s and the heresy trial of the said Dutch Reformed theologian, Johannes du Plessis.