Scielo RSS <![CDATA[Verbum et Ecclesia]]> vol. 40 num. 1 lang. <![CDATA[SciELO Logo]]> <![CDATA[<b>Conundrum of religious mafia and legislation in South Africa: When does religion become a national threat? Reference to the Seven Angels Ministry</b>]]> In this theoretical article, I analyse the hearing of the Seven Angels Ministry before the Commission for Religious and Linguistic Rights, and subsequent events that led to the killing of police and army officers at the Ngcobo Police Station. Informed by critical emancipatory research theory, I unpack the emerging nexus of the state, gender, legislation, religious freedom and human rights in the context of religious mafia. I answer two questions in relation to the Seven Angels Ministry and the Ngcobo killings: 'What are the tenets of a mafiarised religion?' and 'What can be done to mitigate the challenge?' I argue that a philosophical understanding of the constitution, education, gender and politics as practiced by the Seven Angels Ministry presents a trajectory of religion in contemporary society that must be problematised, unearthed and challenged to produce a world order that is responsive to societal needs and devoid of oppression and coloniality. I also argue that while religious freedom is a human right, it is important that legislation protects citizens from religious mafias, particularly when religious discourses negate schooling, promote gender inequality and emphasise constitutional delinquency. INTRADISCIPLINARY AND/OR INTERDISCIPLINARY IMPLICATIONS: The article is interdisciplinary in the sense that it addresses the issues of education, constitutionalism, gender, child abuse and a need for a theology that challenges religious mafia exhibited by some religious movements. It calls for a change in legislation, and a different approach to theology as well as in curricula to address lived realities. <![CDATA[<b>Migration history in South Africa as a lens for interpreting God's mission: Towards a challenge for churches to embrace migrants</b>]]> This article challenges the church to embrace migrants by presenting migration history in South Africa during the era of European explorers as a lens for interpreting God's mission. In avowing the aforementioned, it argues for migration history of the European explorers to South Africa as the way God has used in establishing the church in South Africa. However, in view of the subsequent colonialism and slave trade in South Africa that emerged from the period of European explorers, this article recognises the conception of slave trade and colonialism during the era of European explorers as an evil act. Notably, in bringing Joseph's forced migration to Egypt as a theological lens to interpret some sinful acts that were embedded in the migration of European explorers to South Africa that also resulted in the establishment of the early church in South Africa, it contends that God's purpose and plans are not frustrated or thwarted by human sin. God, in his grace and love to reach his remnant people with the gospel, utilises various migrations of European explorers to South Africa (regardless of how sinful they are) to advance his kingdom to South Africa. The notion of migration history in South Africa as a lens for interpreting God's mission is utilised to challenge the churches to embrace migrants because God uses migration or migrants to advance his kingdom to all the earth. The article concludes by calling the church to embrace all migrants because humankind are usually unacquainted with the particular migrants that God is utilising to advance his kingdom. INTRADISCIPLINARY AND/OR INTERDISCIPLINARY IMPLICATIONS: This article outlines theological research agenda for migration history in South Africa as a lens to interpret God's mission. It considers migration history in South Africa during the era of European explorers as a tool that God used to advance his kingdom. As such, it is a theological interdisciplinary article integrating church history and mission. The contribution of this article lies in establishing the emergence of the early church in South Africa as a result of migration, which it utilises as a challenge for churches to embrace migrants. <![CDATA[<b>Refugee migrants as agents of change: Strategies for improved livelihoods and self-reliance</b>]]> Although many refugees leave their home countries with a certain level of uncertainty concerning their survival in the host country, they are hopeful of improving their livelihood and thus being self-reliant. They seize available opportunities in order to start a new life. In doing so, refugees move beyond solely depending on charity actions, having devised survival mechanisms in their new setting by means of self-reliant strategies. This article, therefore, looks at the refugee migrants as agents of change in view of the self-reliance strategies they use for survival. Furthermore, the article points to the courage of the refugees in the host country by presenting qualitative evidence on how refugees' livelihood strategies have contributed to the improvement of their own well-being in general and, in particular, that of some locals. The data for this study were gathered using in-depth interviews with refugees living in Cape Town, South Africa. INTRADISCIPLINARY AND/OR INTERDISCIPLINARY IMPLICATIONS: This paper is transdisciplinary in that it presents an ecclesial response to the global challenges facing the refugee community. This is because it aims at transforming the painful experiences of the refugees into opportunities for improved livelihoods and holistic well-being. The paper further depicts how practical theology informs understandings of the phenomenological techniques in an attempt to explore the rhythms of social life from the perspective of the issue under investigation. The article is, therefore, a theological underpinning that informs development practitioners and practical theologians on how to efficiently respond to the pressing needs of refugees using hope as an available resource. In this manner, the article presents strategies that would assist policy-makers in devising sustainable policies and programmes that aim at improving refugees' livelihoods. <![CDATA[<b>Responses of farm managers pertaining the LIFEPLAN<sup>®</sup> Training and Equipping Programme as part of Christian formation with farm workers: A qualitative study</b>]]> Equipping Programme by employing a qualitative research pattern, namely, structured interviews with managers. These managers were from various farms in the Christiana district (North-West Province, South Africa), who also participated in the LIFEPLAN® Training and Equipping Programme and in the research project. An exploratory, interpretive and descriptive qualitative contextual design was followed. The results from this qualitative pattern indicated that managers felt positive that their farm workers had a life-changing experience through the LIFEPLAN® Training and Equipping Programme. Managers indicated that the LIFEPLAN® programme made a huge impact on and difference in the lives of farm workers. Significant to this research is the fact that more than 50% of farm workers showed a high interest in Christianity and to practice Christian values, and this significance was very positive for farm managers in the Christiana district. INTRADISCIPLINARY AND/OR INTERDISCIPLINARY IMPLICATIONS: Socio-economic environment and destructive behavioural patterns lead to many lives destroyed. Preliminary results suggested behavioural modifications linked to biblio-moral intervention. LIFEPLAN® has a transdisciplinary approach comprising three main disciplines and constituencies: theology, education and health. It seeks creative solutions to inspire and equip the youth to become responsible citizens in their communities. <![CDATA[<b>Dancing with Jesus as the incarnate male 'missionary' conversant: A homeless group's reading of John 4 in dealing with gender-based violence</b>]]> In this article, the metaphor of dancing is used to discuss the skewed gender relations in society as a result of the various interpretations available in terms of the narrative of Jesus and the Samaritan woman (Jn 4). The question explored is the following: how scholarly interpreters of the Bible and the homeless people describe this 'dancing', that is, the human movements between the male and female conversation partners? The author uses the 'woman-friendly' interpretations of various theologians on the John 4:1-42 narrative and juxtaposes it against other theologians' interpretations. Furthermore, the author discusses how a homeless group in the City of Tshwane reflects on and interprets the text. The article builds on the premise that biblical texts like John 4:1-42 - which are interpreted in a way that sustains patriarchy - serve as the cause for gender-based violence. Therefore, although the article does not refer directly to the issue of gender-based violence, it is contributing to 'woman-friendly' interpretations of Biblical texts to counter patriarchal tendencies in society. INTRADISCIPLINARY AND/OR INTERDISCIPLINARY IMPLICATIONS: This is interdisciplinary study as it integrates gender-based violence in the field of sociology, public theology, feminist ethics with missiology. It is also integrating the field of biblical hermeneutics with missiology in terms of a specific biblical text namely Jn. 4 that is analysed. <![CDATA[<b>Singing as a therapeutic agent in Pentecostal worship</b>]]> Singing has always been part of worship in a Pentecostal spiritual service. However, the role of singing in Pentecostal worship as a therapeutic agent has been under-researched. In order to bridge this research gap, this article is an interdisciplinary study of singing and Pentecostal worship. It seeks to demonstrate that the act of singing is a therapeutic agent in Pentecostal worship. The article will explore singing as a biblical concept to establish its theology. The purpose is to demonstrate that singing is not only part of the liturgy in a Pentecostal worship service but also acts as a therapeutic agent for all sorts of ailments, including spiritual, physical, emotional and psychological ailments.Intradisciplinary and/or interdisciplinary implications: The importance of this article is twofold; firstly, the article demonstrates that singing plays a pivotal role in Pentecostal worship as much as it did in the Bible. Secondly, the article illustrates that singing is more than a liturgical exercise; it acts as a therapeutic agent in Pentecostal worship. <![CDATA[<b>The nature and scope of Nietzsche's philosophical reception of Genesis 2:4b-3:24</b>]]> Nietzsche's writings on the Old Testament have been the subject of in-depth research in various academic disciplines. This article's original contribution to the ongoing discussion lies in its exclusive focus on Nietzsche's philosophical reception of Genesis 2:4b-3:24 in particular. The objective is to provide an extensive overview of the related data by way of thematically correlated representative samples in the philosopher's German writings. As background, the relevant aspects of Schopenhauer's reception of Genesis 2:4b-3:24 are noted before identifying two types of philosophical criticism discernible in Nietzsche's consistent and frequent recourse to the text's memorable mythological motifs. Based on the sheer quantity and quality of associated content involved, the study concludes that Nietzsche's critical and creative interactions with Genesis 2:4b-3:24 represent a combined critique and revitalisation of the tradition of allegorical interpretations in philosophical approaches to religious mythology.Intradisciplinary and/or interdisciplinary implications: The research is located at the intersection of biblical studies and philosophy. More specifically, the history of the Old Testament's reception within 19th-century German atheist philosophy of religion is enriched with the first overview exclusively devoted to the nature and extent of motifs from Genesis 2:4b-3:24 in the writings of Nietzsche. <![CDATA[<b>Nostalgia as a pastoral-hermeneutical key for healing complicated grief in an Afro-Christian context</b>]]> This research engaged complicated grief in an Afro-Christian context. The Afro-Christian context was described as one where traditional African beliefs form the bedrock of a unique strand of Christian faith. Christians within the philosophical and spiritual category of the African context harbour a unique outlook on death and, therefore, approach loss in a way that still embraces traditional views regarding the role of the departed. This provides for an extended grieving process, which opens the door for complicated grief as opposed to the notion of uncomplicated grief. The Christian text, where the resurrection of Christ stands central, challenges African views on the role of the departed and opens possibilities for the healing of complicated grief. In the light of this, nostalgia is investigated as a pastoral-hermeneutical key to understand and challenge the phenomenon of complicated grief in an Afro-Christian context. While nostalgia denotes a longing for the past, the distinction between restorative and reflective nostalgia provides valuable possibilities for pastoral work with complicated grief. It was argued that restorative nostalgia is indicative of attempts to restore the past and reflective nostalgia is indicative of a willingness to accept reality based on a cognitive and spiritual realisation that the past cannot be retrieved. It is thus contended that much pastoral potential resides within the notion of nostalgia when deployed in the context of complicated grief in an Afro-Christian context.Intradisciplinary and/or interdisciplinary implications: The contextualisation of practical theology and pastoral care in the African context requires an interdisciplinary approach which is mindful of the African context, the Christian faith as well the variegated contexts in which Africans currently live and believe. <![CDATA[<b>Prosperity gospel and the culture of greed in post-colonial Africa: Constructing an alternative African Christian Theology of Ubuntu</b>]]> Christianity in post-colonial Africa is highly influenced and shaped by the prosperity message. The popular and materialistic gospel is sweeping across the continent like a gale-force wind, which is irresistible. Previous studies on prosperity gospel have indeed defined the concept as a global phenomenon and in an African context. This study is an interdisciplinary reflection on prosperity gospel and the culture of greed in post-colonial Africa. The study proposes the African Christian Theology of Ubuntu as an alternative to prosperity gospel. Ubuntu is prescribed here as an antidote to the culture of greed in prosperity gospel because it is a theology of life, care, solidarity, economic justice, hope and accompaniment.Intradisciplinary and/or interdisciplinary implications: The paper challenges previous missiological perspectives on prosperity gospel and the culture of greed. The study proposes an African theology of Ubuntu as an alternative to prosperity gospel because it is a practical theology of life, care, solidarity, economic justice, hope and accompaniment. <![CDATA[<b>Interpreting texts and the matter of context: Examples from the Book of Ruth</b>]]> This article aims to explore the matter of context in biblical exegesis and interpretation. Several exegetical approaches are discussed, namely, text-immanent, intertextual comparison, reader-response criticism, which is subdivided into feminist and postcolonial studies, and historical criticism. The pros and cons of each approach will also be indicated. The Book of Ruth (RB) is subjected under all of these forms of exegesis in order to illustrate how a single text can be interpreted in various, even divergent ways, depending on the approach chosen by the exegete.Intradisciplinary and/or interdisciplinary implications: This article aims to explore the matter of context in biblical exegesis and interpretation. It examines the biblical Book of Ruth by employing literary and theological theories. Different interpretations are illuminated according to the methodology chosen by the exegete. <![CDATA[<b>Exploring a narrative approach through music as a pastoral care means to human flourishing</b>]]> This article views Christian salvation through the lens of human flourishing and explores the unique ways in which music therapy - as a narrative approach to therapy - can assist society through the empowerment of the individual, to share in the kingdom of God, by actively participating in activities that will enhance people's sense of well-being and flourishing. Flourishing is not limited to the individual as an individual is formed and influenced by his or her community, society and related sociopolitical culture. To flourish is to restore the relationships between the self, others and God. To flourish is to have hope. This article aims to illustrate that the narrative approach to therapy can play a positive role in restoring relationships and creating hope. Similarly, this article argues for the ability of music (through narrative-music therapy) to lift people out of their problem-saturated narratives and assist them to create alternative narratives. Music is thus seen as a powerful tool that can be used as a method in the narrative approach to help individuals flourish in their current situations. INTRADISCIPLINARY AND/OR INTERDISCIPLINARY IMPLICATIONS: This study is written primarily from a pastoral and practical theological perspective but engages on a secondary level with a narrative approach to research and therapy, which is a product of the theory of social constructionism. Social constructionism finds its home in the social sciences. From this engagement, practical theology and the narrative approach engage in a specific manner in dialoguing with the theories related to the study of music and its therapeutic benefits. The possible impact of this inter- and multidisciplinary engagement is the development of a specific kind of pastoral, music narrative therapeutic approach that provides possibilities of spiritual growth and healing to the seekers thereof. <![CDATA[<b>The Spirit and the law</b>]]> In this article, the relation between a theology of the Spirit and a theology of biblical law is explored. This is performed in reference to the theology of Michael Welker. In the first part of the article, it is shown how the relation between the Spirit and the law, which could be considered to be his main and most unique contribution towards a theology of the Spirit, serves as the framework for his entire theological endeavour. In the third part, his understanding of the law as life-furthering security of expectations is explored in light of reductionist understandings of biblical law, which is examined in the second part. This is followed by an explanation of Welker's in-depth understanding of the biblical law, of Recht, mercy and knowledge of God. It will then be possible to ask about the relation between this differentiated understanding of biblical law and the Spirit. The conclusion asks how Welker's understanding of this relation, which allows for a more complex understanding of the Spirit's role in reality, moves beyond morality. INTRADISCIPLINARY AND/OR INTERDISCIPLINARY IMPLICATIONS: The article's focus is on the theology of Michael Welker, who's understanding of the relation between law and Spirit is the result of intradisciplinary (Old- and New Testament, Historical Theology, Systematic Theology etc.) and interdisciplinary research (law, sociology etc.). The intra- and interdisciplinarity of his understanding of the relation further differentiates discourses caught up in diverse abstractions, dichotomies and dualisms. <![CDATA[<b>Reconciliation in South Africa in light of the <i>imago Dei</i> and <i>koinonia</i></b>]]> It is evident that the establishment of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) and its consequent findings, together with the dawn of the new South Africa, has not achieved its goal of a unified 'rainbow nation'. This is because of the fact that South Africans still face racialism and segregation from most quarters of the community. The racialism and marginalising are not only white and black dichotomies, but the fissures are evident in black-on-black and white-on-white anxieties. The infighting in churches and communities represents other contributing factors. The dream of the 'rainbow' society, which is raceless, has smothered the vision of peace and harmony of a reconciled society. This smothering has had a divisive impact on the possibilities immanent in South Africa. Despair, the promotion of hatred and polarisation are common anxieties among most South Africans. The race card is used for 'one's' own greediness and personal aggrandisement and there is a need for a solution. This study seeks to establish the theology of the image of God (imago Dei) in relation to fellowship (koinonia). Then, the study highlights the causes of distress in some denominations, especially those that privilege the name of God and thereby making a comparison between the churches and TRC which was a government initiative in the restoration of peace and fellowship process. From that premise, the article argues that despite the inclusive accommodative TRC sessions, racial intolerance and deep infighting are still rife in South Africa. Then, the study concludes by proposing a mission paradigm that advances fellowship and advocates that all people are made in the image of God, thence they are equal. The article brings forth the political era post-1994 in South Africa and links that to the social setting of churches post-1994. In that way, there is a link between politics and the church and how these have influenced the present in South Africa. The question is: Did the TRC usher in a new era of koinonia and brotherhood from a theology of the image of God? This missiological aspect is linked to socialism and politics. <![CDATA[<b>Redefining religion? A critical Christian reflection on CRL Rights Commission's proposal to regulate religion in South Africa</b>]]> What do the recommendations of the Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities (CRL Rights Commission) to regulate religion in South Africa reflect about the commission's understanding of religion in the country? From a Christian theological perspective, the article critically engages the understanding of religion that emerges from the findings and recommendations of the CRL Rights Commission on the state of religion in South Africa as contained in its 2017 report. The article first examines the different responses to the CRL Rights Commission's recommendations by writers concerned with freedom of religion and human rights in South Africa. Further, the commission's investigations, findings and recommendations are critically examined. This is followed by deciphering attitudes towards religion that emerge from the commission's recommendation for the regulation of religion in South Africa. The article closes by highlighting some possible dangers of regulating religion in a context riddled by economic inequality such as in South Africa. INTRADISCIPLINARY AND/OR INTERDISCIPLINARY IMPLICATIONS: This article brings into dialogue Christian theology, religious freedom, human rights and the constitution, philosophy and sociology of religion to reflect on the essence of religion and freedom of religion in the context of undesirable and dangerous religious practices. <![CDATA[<b>Prayer and being church in postapartheid, multicultural South Africa</b>]]> The research presented in this article was conducted as a continuing concern over 'being church' in a multicultural urban setting in postapartheid South Africa. It has been nearly 30 years since the end of apartheid and South Africans are still learning to live together in unity, as the pioneers of democracy envisaged. In this contribution, it is suggested that in this context, prayer could be utilised as an instrument for church-praxis. This is done by taking an interdisciplinary approach, namely, integrating theories from the fields of practical theology and systematic theology with regard to liturgical studies and ecclesiology, and using them to interpret empirical data and to build on the process of liturgical inculturation. The concept of 'koinonia' is explored by reflecting on the relationship between inclusivity and exclusivity and integrating it with contemporary praxis theory from liturgical studies. This is aimed at promoting a manner of 'being church' that reflects Dirk Smit's aphorism, of lex orandi, lex credendi, lex (con)vivendi, that is, as we pray, so we believe, and so we live (together). INTRADISCIPLINARY AND/OR INTERDISCIPLINARY IMPLICATIONS: The research presented in this article was conducted as a continuing concern over 'being church' in a multicultural, urban setting in postapartheid South Africa. This is done by taking an interdisciplinary approach, integrating theories from the fields of practical theology and systematic theology with regard to liturgical studies and ecclesiology. <![CDATA[<b>The Deuteronomic view of history in Second Temple Judaism</b>]]> The Babylonian Exile was a historical catalyst compelling Jewish authors of the Second Temple period to deal with their respective situations in the course of history according to - or against - various predicaments from which they suffered in an unprecedented manner. Second Temple Jews were faced with the most fundamental uneasiness: it seemed that God abandoned his people owing to their breaking of the covenant. Therefore, it was important to reconceptualise their worldview into which creation, history, and covenant could be incorporated and which could vouchsafe the ongoing relationship with God to their respective situations. INTRADISCIPLINARY AND/OR INTERDISCIPLINARY IMPLICATIONS: In this article, the worldview of Second Temple Judaism is reflected on by observing how different communities in Second Temple Judaism engaged the Song of Moses in Deuteronomy 31-32. This article focusses on the interpretations of this passage in Second Temple Judaism, with specific reference to selected texts from Qumran, Tobit, the Testament of Moses, Philo, Josephus and Sifre Deuteronomy. Implicated disciplines are Old Testament studies, Apocryphal studies, Dead Sea Scroll studies and New Testament studies.