SciELO - Scientific Electronic Library Online

vol.33 issue2Personal-ethical perspectives in the work of Etienne de VilliersEcclesiology and Ethics: Etienne de Villiers' work in the light of ecumenical discussions on ecclesiology and ethics author indexsubject indexarticles search
Home Pagealphabetic serial listing  

Services on Demand



Related links

  • On index processCited by Google
  • On index processSimilars in Google


Verbum et Ecclesia

On-line version ISSN 2074-7705
Print version ISSN 1609-9982

Verbum Eccles. (Online) vol.33 n.2 Pretoria  2012 



Public Theology in pluralistic societies? Lessons from the theology of Etienne de Villiers



Nico Koopman

Department of Systematic Theology, University of Stellenbosch, South Africa





This article discussed the meaning and significance of the theological contribution of Etienne de Villiers for the task of prophetic public theology in pluralistic societies. It was argued that De Villiers's theology enriched public theology in a variety of ways. De Villiers convincingly argued that Christian morality does have unique contents. These unique contents enrich and deepen discussions in the pluralistic public domain. De Villiers also showed that Christians can enter the public domain from the perspective of so-called thicker theological convictions like sin and love. De Villiers emphasised the participation of Christians in so-called technical discourses. This implied that Christians strive to make their convictions as far as possible intellectually accessible to a pluralistic audience, that Christians strive for moral consensus, sound moral decision-making, influencing of the public opinion and participation in policy-making processes in pluralistic life. This technical discourse with the aim to reach moral consensus and to impact on policymaking processes should also be practiced within Christian communities where a plurality of moral views, even conflicting views, exist. This quest for decision-making, consensus and impacting on public policy are to be advanced in the ecumenical Christian family, and even between Christians and other religions.



“Full text available only in PDF format”




Ateek, N.S., 1989, Justice and only justice. A Palestinian theology of liberation, Orbis Books, New York.         [ Links ]

Birch, B.C., 1991, Let justice roll down. The Old Testament, ethics, and Christian life, Westminster John Knox Press, Louisville.         [ Links ]

Brady, B.V., 1998, The moral bond of community. Justice and discourse in Christian morality, Georgetown University Press, Washington.         [ Links ]

De Villiers, D.E., 1978, Die eiesoortigheid van die Christelike moral, Rodopi, Amsterdam.         [ Links ]

De Villiers, D.E., 1995, 'Die Nederduitse Gereformeerde Kerk en die nuwe situasie in die samelewing', Nederduits Gereformeerde Teologiese Tydskrif XXXVII(4), 558-569.         [ Links ]

De Villiers, D.E., 1999, 'Die NG Kerk en die oorgang na 'n nuwe Suid-Afrika', Skrif en Kerk 20(1), 15-38.         [ Links ]

De Villiers, D.E., 2005, 'The vocation of reformed ethicist in the present South African society', Scriptura 89, 521-535.         [ Links ]

De Villiers, D.E., 2011a, 'Public Theology in the South African context', International Journal of Public Theology 5, 5-22.        [ Links ]

De Villiers, D.E., 2011b, 'South African Public Theology in a global era' International Journal of Public Theology 5, Special issue (guest editor: D.E. de Villiers).         [ Links ]

De Villiers, D.E. & Smit, D.J., 1996, 'Waarom verskil ons so oor wat die wil van God is? Opmerkings oor Christelike morele oordeelsvorming', Skrif en Kerk 17(1), 31-37.         [ Links ]

De Young, R.K., 2009, Glittering vices. A new look at the seven deadly sins and their remedies, Brazos Press, Grand Rapids.         [ Links ]

Gregg, B., 2003, Thick moralities, thin politics. Social integration across communities of belief, Duke University Press, Durham/London.         [ Links ]

Gustafson, J., 1988, Varieties of moral discourse: Prophetic, narrative, ethical, and policy, s.n., Grand Rapids. (Stob lectures of Calvin College and Seminary).         [ Links ]

Koopman, N.N., 2004, 'The role of tradition in moral decision-making and moral consensus', Nederduits Gereformeerde Teologiese Tydskrif 45, 838-848.         [ Links ]

Koopman, N.N., 2009, 'Public Theology as Prophetic Theology. More than utopianism and criticism', Journal of Theology for Southern Africa 134, July, 117-130.         [ Links ]

Koopman, N.N., 2010, 'Churches and public policy discourses in South Africa', Journal of Theology for Southern Africa 136, March, 41-56.         [ Links ]

Kuitert, H.M., 1974a, 'Het Schriftberoep in de ethiek', in H.M. Kuitert (red.), Anders gezegd. Een versameling van opstellen voor de welwillende leze, 4th edn., pp. 63-87, Kok, Kampen.         [ Links ]

Kuitert, H.M., 1974b, Zonder geloof vaart niemand wel. Een plaatsbepaling van Christendom en Kerk. Ten Have, Baarn.         [ Links ]

Kuitert, H.M., 1981, 'De rol van de bijbel in de protestante theologische ethiek', Gereformeerd Theologisch Tijdschrift 81, 65-82.         [ Links ]

Kuitert, H.M., 1984, 'Spelen godsdienstige overtuigingen een rol bij de morele oordeelsvorming?', in A.W. Musschenga (red.),Onderwijs in natuurwetenschappen en morele vorming. Opstellen over wetenschaps-filosofie, theologie, antropologie en ethiek voor het natuurwetenschappelijk onderwijs, pp. 206-219, Ten Hawe, Amsterdam.         [ Links ]

Kuitert, H.M., 1985, Alles is politiek, maar politiek is niet alles. Een theologisch perspectief op geloof en politiek, Ten Have, Baarn.         [ Links ]

Kuitert, H.M., 1988a, Filosofie van de theologie, Serie Wetenschaps-filosofie, Martinus Nijhoff, Leiden.         [ Links ]

Kuitert, H.M., 1988b, 'Morele consensus: mogelijkheden en grenzen', in I.G. De Beaufort & H.M. Dupuis (reds.), Handboek Gezondheids-ethiek, pp. 29-40, Van Gorcum, Assen-Maastricht.         [ Links ]

Kuitert, H.M., 1988c, 'Secularisatie en moraal', in G. Dekker & U. Gäbler (reds.), Secularisatie in theologisch perspectief, pp. 131-148, Kok, Kampen.         [ Links ]

Musschenga, A.W., 1989, 'De universele moraal als opdracht', in K. Gäbler et al. (reds.) Geloof dat te denken geeft. Opstellen aangeboden aan Prof. dr. H.M.Kuitert, pp.159-178, Ten Have, Baarn.         [ Links ]

Schimmel, S., 1992, The seven deadly sins. Jewish, Christian, and classical reflections on human nature, The Free Press, New York.         [ Links ]

Wolterstorff, N., 1983, Until Justice and Peace Embrace, Eerdmans, Grand Rapids.         [ Links ]



Nico Koopman
171 Dorp Street
Stellenbosch 7600
South Africa

Received: 30 July 2012
Accepted: 04 Oct. 2012
Published: 06 Dec. 2012

Creative Commons License All the contents of this journal, except where otherwise noted, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License