HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies 2021-08-12T19:03:30+00:00 Andries G. van Aarde Open Journal Systems <p><em>HTS Teologiese Studies/Theological Studies</em> is an acclaimed Open Access journal with broad coverage that promotes multidisciplinary, religious, and biblical aspects of studies in the international theological arena. The journal’s publication criteria are based on high ethical standards and the rigor of the methodology and conclusions reported.</p><p>Other websites related to this journal: <a title="" href="" target="_blank"></a></p> Religious statecraft: Narratives of persecution and diplomacy in the case of Byzantine, Aksum and Himyar 2021-08-12T19:01:40+00:00 Rugare Rukuni <div data-canvas-width="495.86194235951046">When reviewed against the background of Byzantine diplomatic correspondence, Aksum’s&nbsp;religious policy on the Arabian Peninsula is perceivable within a Constantinian religio-political&nbsp;matrix. Imperial letters from Byzantine to Aksum and Persia denote the Byzantine role of&nbsp;arbiter of early Christianity. Byzantine Rome’s role in Christianity when reviewed from&nbsp;diplomatic correspondence with allies and antagonists recounts narratives of orthodoxy and&nbsp;persecution. Parallel review of letters from Constantine and Constantius decodes the Christian&nbsp;kingdom of Aksum as a participant of 4th-century CE&nbsp;Constantinian dynamics. This review&nbsp;was enabled through document analysis.</div> 2021-08-02T00:00:00+00:00 Copyright (c) Towards the social doctrine of the Orthodox Church: The document ‘For the Life of the World’ of the Ecumenical Patriarchate (2020) 2021-08-12T19:01:42+00:00 Iuliu-Marius Morariu <p>Amongst the recent documents released by the Greek Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, the one titled ‘For the Life of the World’, published before the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, touches upon an important section of the life of the Orthodox Church, namely, the social one. As a result of the fact that, so far, there is no official document of the aforementioned Church dedicated to this aspect, whilst the Reformed Churches and the Catholic one have already issued similar documents, I consider the existence of such an article, with all its minuses, important. Moreover, it can constitute a bridge and an invitation to dialogue with other Christian traditions or backgrounds. Being aware of this fact, I have decided to analyse this document in this article to emphasise its influence and its elements of novelty and to speak about both its utility and its weaknesses. As a result of the fact that the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew has had an important contribution to its drafting, I will also try to present this aspect and to show how the ecological vision that he has, amongst other aspects, influenced its content.</p> <p><strong>Contribution:</strong>&nbsp;Considering the importance of the recent document ‘For the Life of the World of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople’, I will try to analyse it and to present its social relevance and meaning.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> 2021-08-02T00:00:00+00:00 Copyright (c) Hated without a reason (injustice personalised): A case study 2021-08-12T17:51:51+00:00 Graham A. Duncan <p>This is the second part of an investigation of the subject of injustice relating to the issue of human sexuality in a mainstream South African Christian denomination. The first paper, entitled ‘Hated without a reason I – Contending with issues of human sexuality in a South African ecclesial context: A case study of the Uniting Presbyterian Church in Southern Africa’, sought to trace the development of the issue from 1999 to 2016. This article considers the issue from the standpoint of an individual. Within the Uniting Presbyterian Church in Southern Africa (UPCSA), views have polarised along lines determined by views on the authority of scripture and biblical hermeneutics, with little hope for a resolution that will satisfy all the parties concerned despite proposals being made because of a ‘failure of love’.</p> <p><strong>Contribution:</strong>&nbsp;This article seeks to extend the discussion on human sexuality in the South African church scene.</p> 2021-08-12T00:00:00+00:00 Copyright (c) Hated without a reason - Contending with issues of human sexuality in a South African ecclesial context: A case study 2021-08-12T19:01:43+00:00 Graham A. Duncan <div> <p>The mainline churches in South Africa are in turmoil internally as a result of divisions arising out of issues related to human sexuality. These issues have serious implications for these churches, church families within them, and the relationship of these churches with one another and with the state. There is little open space for debate as discussions are hampered by a variety of theological perspectives on the authority of scripture, some of which are fixed and absolutised. This is a matter of justice for all those involved. This research article seeks to analyse the issues involved theologically and in terms of church polity, with a view of clarifying possibilities and options for a resolution of the distress and pain caused within and between members of the Christian family using the transnational context of the Uniting Presbyterian Church in Southern Africa as a case study. The concepts of critical solidarity and critical distance will be used to clarify relationships within the relevant contexts. This article is interdisciplinary and embraces the fields of Church History or Polity, Practical Theology, Missiology and Systematic Theology.</p> <p><strong>Contribution:</strong>&nbsp;This paper seeks to analyse issues of human sexuality within a South African Christian denomination with particular attention to the matter of justice.</p> </div> 2021-08-02T00:00:00+00:00 Copyright (c) The sources of knowledge of two medieval Jewish commentators in nature issues: The case of gathering the musk (Song of Songs 5:1) 2021-08-12T19:01:45+00:00 Abraham O. Shemesh <div> <p>Musk, which is produced from the glands of several species of deer, was a well-known perfume throughout the Mediterranean Basin in the Middle Ages. The current article examines the meaning of the gathering operation of myrrh mentioned in Song of Songs 5:1, according to R. Joseph Ibn Aknin and Naḥmanides. The two commentators argue that the phrase ariiti mori can be interpreted as the unique manner of gathering the perfume of the musk deer in its lands of origin in the Far East. They contend that harvesting the perfume refers to gathering the perfume that the deer spreads on the rocks naturally, which is a higher quality product. The two medieval rabbis were exposed to contemporary scholars or oral traditions on the way of gathering the musk. Ibn Aknin took the information from Arabic writings, such as of al-Sirāfī and al-Masʿūdī and Ibn JulJuly With regard to Naḥmanides, his source of information on gathering musk is not clear.</p> <p><strong>Contribution:</strong>&nbsp;This article contributes to the understanding of the issue of the sources of knowledge of scholars in medieval times and how the achieved information influenced their commentaries on the Biblical Text. The current study expounds the commentators’ interpretations from a multidisplinary perspective, such as the medieval zoology and perfume industry.</p> </div> 2021-08-02T00:00:00+00:00 Copyright (c) Interpersonal communication within the family for improving adolescent religiosity 2021-08-12T19:01:46+00:00 Christiana D.W. Sahertian Betty A. Sahertian Alfred E. Wajabula <div> <p>National education is a conscious and planned effort to help children develop their potential be spiritually strong, religious, intelligent, a strong personality and noble character and noble skills. For this reason, education not only focuses on the aspect of children’s knowledge but also on religion and morals aspects. This education begins in the family through communication patterns that are created between parents and children in the form of interpersonal communication that can increase the religiosity of adolescents. Therefore, this article aims to measure the interpersonal communication within the family. The author uses quantitative methods with technical correlation to determine the relationship between two variables, namely interpersonal communication in the family and youth religiosity, and includes 303 adolescents as a sample. The data were collected using a Likert scale and processed using Excel and SPSS 16 programs in order to obtain the results that the application of good interpersonal communication in families will increase adolescent religiosity. This leads to the conclusion ‘there is a mutually influential relationship between interpersonal communication in the family and adolescent religiosity’.</p> <p><strong>Contribution:</strong>&nbsp;This article contributes to Christian families in increasing interpersonal communication as a pattern of youth formation, because it can increase their religiosity.</p> </div> 2021-08-02T00:00:00+00:00 Copyright (c) Bible translations for the minorities’ languages today: A biblical theological exploration 2021-08-12T19:01:47+00:00 Tshitangoni C. Rabali <p>The contemporary world is a harsh environment for many languages and cultures. Globalisation is one of the powerful forces that are increasing the pressure on some languages to become extinct. The questions that, therefore, arise for Bible translation include:&nbsp;<em>Does it still make sense to translate the Bible into languages that are being threatened by extinction</em>? Are there perhaps certain indicators that should be present for the translation of the Bible into endangered languages to make sense and to possibly also contribute towards the revival of languages that are being threatened by extinction? The discussion of these and related questions is not new but has to continue because the issues can be viewed from a variety of angles. This article is offered as a biblical theological exploration of the issues. It is, therefore, also a biblical theological motivation for Bible translation into endangered languages. The article argues that the existence of a growing church that is committed to the use of the Bible in a particular translation should be viewed as one of the critical indicators when assessing the merits of such translation projects.</p> <p><strong>Contribution:</strong>&nbsp;The primary contribution of this article is that it approaches the issues pertaining to language endangerment from a biblical theological angle; and demonstrates that the issues regarding language endangerment are connected to the core of the Bible’s message. Language endangerment is one of the results of Adam’s fall into sin. God’s redemptive work will end language endangerment when God’s gracious work of saving creation and fallen humanity is consummated at Christ’s return.</p> 2021-08-02T00:00:00+00:00 Copyright (c) ‘I am not strong to dig and I am afraid to beg’: Social status and status concern in the parable of the Dishonest Steward (Lk 16:1–9) 2021-08-12T19:01:49+00:00 Louis Ndekha <p>This article offers a reading of the parable of the Dishonest Steward from the perspective of Greco-Roman status concern. It observes that the parable has a long and complicated history of interpretation. The different approaches in the reading of the parable reveal the unresolved quest in scholarship to establish a reading of the parable that takes into account both the steward’s act of generosity towards his master’s debtors and the praise that follows this action. This article proposes the Greco-Roman status concern as a framework for understanding the meaning of the parable in its original context. Status concern was the spirit of tenacity in maintaining one’s status and honour against all odds characteristic of Greco-Roman honour and shame culture. The article argues that when the parable is read within its literary context, it reveals that at the heart of Jesus’ message in the parable is the theme of persistence as an attribute of authentic discipleship. This understanding of the parable resonates with the entrenched Greco-Roman spirit of status concern. The interpretation would also have been relevant to Luke’s Greco-Roman auditors living on the periphery of the Greco-Roman culture with the constant pressures to conform to the ethos of the larger social context. The steward’s resolve to maintain his status even in the most difficult circumstances provided a paradigm for those Christ-followers to remain steadfast in the faith against all odds.</p> <p><strong>Contribution:</strong>&nbsp;The article presents an alternative interpretation of the parable of the Dishonest Steward. By proposing status concern as an interpretative framework, it offers both new insights into the socio-economic and socio-cultural realities of Luke’s world and the continuing evidence of the contribution of Greco-Roman world to the development of the New Testament texts.</p> 2021-08-02T00:00:00+00:00 Copyright (c) Spiritual autobiographies as sources of the ecumenism: Dag Hammarskjöld’s case 2021-08-12T19:01:50+00:00 Iuliu-Marius Morariu <p>An important genre of the theological area, spiritual autobiography is currently undergoing a rediscovery process, because of recent research on this topic. Written by important mystical personalities belonging to different Christian traditions (such as Saint Silouane the Athonite or Saint John of Kronstadt for the Orthodox area, Saint Teresa of Avila for the Catholic one and Dag Hammarskjöld for the Lutheran one), spiritual autobiographies can constitute a valuable source for the understanding of their authors’ thinking and perception of fundamental topics such as ecumenism. Being aware of this aspect, we will start from a case study, namely that of Dag Hammarskjöld, and we will try to see how this category of texts can be used in order to understand the attitude of the authors of spiritual autobiographies and their motivation in the ecumenical space.</p> <p><strong>Contribution:</strong>&nbsp;The research helps the reader to see how the spiritual autobiographies can be a source of understanding the ecumenism of mystical vocations, using as example Dag Hammarskjöld’s&nbsp;<em>Markings</em>.</p> 2021-08-02T00:00:00+00:00 Copyright (c) Is tithing a justifiable development in the Christian church? 2021-08-12T19:01:51+00:00 Francis L.C. Rakotsoane <div> <p>With its over 40 000 denominations worldwide, Christianity undoubtedly remains the most fragmented of the religions of the world. One of the main causes of the said fragmentation is apparently the practice of tithing, which both genuine clergy and many shady characters that have disguised themselves as ministers of religion in society regard as the quickest way of accumulating wealth or making money. Anybody who views television programmes on religion and listens to religious leaders who give Christian preaching on various radio stations nowadays cannot fail to observe the aggressive way in which such leaders opportunistically manipulate their followers and listeners to pay tithes using what has come to be generically known as ‘prosperity gospel’. Given the extent to which it has fragmented and continues to fragment the Christian Church, as well as to taint the image of Christianity as a religion, the question asked by many people today about tithing is: Are the Christians as obligated to pay tithes as the Jews under the Mosaic Law? Using typology for its interpretative tool and arguing both scripturally and historically, this article argues that Christians are not obligated to pay tithes because tithing, as part of the temple worship system whose existence ended with Christ’s free self-offering as a sacrifice to God on the cross, foreshadowed free offering to God by Christ’s followers, not obligatory giving by law.</p> <p><strong>Contribution:</strong>&nbsp;This article contributes to the general debate on tithing as practised in the Christian Church today. The article argues that there is no scriptural proof anywhere to validate payment of tithes to the New Testament Church or its ministers.</p> </div> 2021-08-02T00:00:00+00:00 Copyright (c) A hybrid Christian identity in Philippians 1:15–18 2021-08-12T19:01:53+00:00 Woo Min Lee <p>There have been various studies on the passage of Philippians 1:15–18 but there have been few studies on a hybrid aspect of Christian identity implicated in the passage. The aim of the study was to reveal a hybrid aspect of the passage. The socio-historical setting for the study was the Greco-Roman period. For this study, I employed rhetorical criticism, a socio-linguistic approach and an anthropological linguistic approach to the passage, as well as the analysis of the socio-historical and cultural background of the passage. As a result, I found that Paul, who retained his Jewish identity but embraced Christian identity, tried to suggest such a new kind of identity for the intended audience and their community. In this article, I argued that Paul as a hybrid personality urged the Christian community in Philippi to have distinguished Christian habitus and field in Philippians 1:15–18. In particular, Paul persuaded his intended audience or readers to acknowledge and accept even those preachers who had questionable intentions into their Christian community. Such an inclusive attitude was to make a clear distinction between the community and their traditional Greco-Roman socio-cultural background.</p> <p><strong>Contribution:</strong>&nbsp;The research on Philippians 1:15–18 reveals a hybrid aspect of Christian identity implicated in the passage. This research would contribute to the biblical studies of the&nbsp;<em>Hervormde Teologiese Studies</em>&nbsp;journal through its rhetorical, socio-linguistic and anthropological approach to the biblical passage of Philippians 1:15–18.</p> 2021-08-02T00:00:00+00:00 Copyright (c) Reformed theology in dialogue with a spirituality of creation within the context of religious pluralism in Africa 2021-08-12T19:01:54+00:00 Johannes J. Knoetze <p>A transforming spirituality is needed to attend to the ‘third-millennial needs’ of Africa to address issues such as relationships (tribal wars, genocide, ISIS, etc.), globalisation ([new]-colonisation and urbanisation), ecology (industrialisation and rhino or elephant poaching) and social issues (the poor, women and children). It is argued that reformed theology, African spiritualities and a spirituality of creation need to be enriched by each other to bring about transformation in Africa. To discover a transforming spirituality of creation, participants need to listen to the different spiritualities and beliefs, without attempting to create a meta-narrative. Participants need to acknowledge the differences and even tensions, and embrace these. As such, this article attends to the research question, how can a dialogue between reformed theology and spirituality of creation help to establish a transforming spirituality based on common values for the diverse African continent in ‘our third-millennial world’?</p> <p><strong>Contribution:</strong>&nbsp;From a multidisplinary theological perspective, the article deals with ‘historical thought’ regarding spirituality and creation. This includes both the textual history from Christianity and oral history from Africa. A missional hermeneutics is used to bring different traditions and beliefs together.</p> 2021-08-02T00:00:00+00:00 Copyright (c) Covid, crown and crosier: A lockdown reflection on monarchy and episcopacy 2021-08-12T19:01:55+00:00 Walter B. Firth <p>This study was conducted during 111 days of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) lockdown and reviewed current media articles that revealed government bodies and institutions have come to view people not as priceless treasures, but in terms of the money they can generate and the economic value they may give to a nation. This view was contrasted with the historic Christian concept of inherent royalty and value that is intrinsic to all people, and embodied in monarchs and bishops. This study focuses on a review of historical literature and biblical texts around monarchy and the episcopacy in light of current media articles related to COVID-19. It found that politics and policy need to be grounded into the more fundamental aspects of our human condition and that it is the compassion and care people have for those who are more fragile: be it financially, physically, mentally or spiritually, that bishops and monarchs should be embodying in a time of COVID-19.</p> <p><strong>Contribution:</strong>&nbsp;This study drew its key insights from contested historical thoughts on the role of monarchs and bishops. The results of this line of thinking challenge us as we consider the future function and role of these positions, and what they mean in times of crises. The key insight gained is the reminder that the lives of all people in our communities are important as each person holds an intrinsic value that cannot be traded for the sake of a country’s economy and business desires to turn a profit during the COVID-19 pandemic.</p> 2021-08-02T00:00:00+00:00 Copyright (c) Qohelet as liminal intellectualism 2021-08-12T19:01:57+00:00 Ananda Geyser-Fouche Lerato L.D. Mokoena <p>Qohelet is one of the most fascinating books in the Hebrew Bible because it falls outside of the confides of what it is deemed as orthodox in terms of genre, literary components and theology. Considered in both antiquity and contemporary interpretations as Wisdom Literature, the book holds rich material to be interpreted and classified in a myriad of ways. It is no secret that Qohelet is an idiosyncratic scholar whose position is defined by unusualness, to define it as defiance would be extreme. As traditional renderings of liminality are often but not always limited to spatiality and time, here liminality is defined as an intellectual exercise. The decision to locate Qohelet as a liminal intellectual is informed by the epistemology encountered in the book if the consensus is that Qohelet existed in post-exilic Israel and that the book borders mostly around philosophical themes and ideas. The aim of this article is to outline and state how, when and why Qohelet becomes a liminal intellectual. This article subsequently borrows from the discipline of anthropology to illuminate how such a position is attainable and possible through a reading of Qohelet with an intersection of Arnold van Gennep’s conception of liminality that traditionally speaks to the margins and structures of positions to how we use some of those tools of analysis to construct a liminality, which privileges knowledge production and encompasses so much more.</p> <p><strong>Contribution:</strong>&nbsp;This article contributes to the ongoing arsenal of interdisciplinary studies which fits and embraces the scope of the journal.</p> 2021-08-02T00:00:00+00:00 Copyright (c) Die hermeneutiese proses onderliggend aan Paulus se eksegese van Eksodus 17:6 en Numeri 20:7–11 in 1 Korintiërs 10:1–4 2021-08-12T19:01:58+00:00 Jacobus D.W. de Koning <div> <p><strong>The hermeneutical process underlying Paul’s exegesis of Exodus 17:6 and Numbers 20:7–11 in 1 Corinthians 10:1–4.</strong>&nbsp;In this article, Paul’s use of the Old Testament in 1 Corinthians 10:1–4 comes under scrutiny. In contrast with the theory of some modern scholars that Paul uses, ‘fanciful analogies’, ‘startling figurative claims’ and metaphors that ‘should not he pressed’, in reaching his conclusion that ‘the rock was Christ’, in 1 Corinthians 10:4c, it is indicated that Paul is indeed taking the original text, the Old Testament’s interpretation of the text, and the Jewish tradition of the interpretation of the text, seriously, in the light of the Christ-event. To prove this claim, research of the text (Exodus 17:6 &amp; Numbers 20:7–11), that Paul uses in 1 Corinthians 10:1–4, is followed by research of the ‘world in front of that text’ (Deuteronomy 32, the Psalms and Second Temple Judaism).</p> <p><strong>Contribution</strong>: The conclusion that is reached indicates that Paul established within the context of contemporary Jewish practices, a true dialogical relationship between an intertextual handling of the text, and his interpretation thereof in the light of the relevance of the Christ-event for the conflict in the Church of Corinth.</p> </div> 2021-08-02T00:00:00+00:00 Copyright (c) Decolonising the concept of the Trinity to decolonise the religious education curriculum 2021-08-12T19:01:59+00:00 Anné H. Verhoef <p>This article brings into perspective the need to decolonise the concept of the Trinity (as the specific doctrine and Christian name of God) as a crucial step in decolonising the religious education curriculum. It discusses the concept of&nbsp;<em>decolonisation</em>&nbsp;and its applicability to religious education, specifically Christianity, within higher education (e.g. in Teacher Education Programmes) in the South African context. God as the Trinity has throughout the history of Atlantic slavery and colonialism been employed to legitimise colonial rule and it, therefore, needs to be decolonised. To decolonise the concept of the Trinity is, however, highly problematic, as the historic relation between Christianity and African traditional religions (ATRs) indicates. Decolonising the concept of the Trinity can quickly develop into a tension between a position of either continuity or discontinuity (of ATR with Christianity).</p> <p><strong>Contribution:</strong>&nbsp;This article argues for an alternative approach for the decolonisation of the concept of the Trinity, namely to allow for the deconstruction of the concept of the Trinity, and by implication of other concepts – like&nbsp;<em>decolonisation and religion</em>&nbsp;– as well. This approach is proposed to develop more openness and playfulness with regard to religious beliefs in general. I argue that this may provide a hopeful, open and just vision of life which should be part of the decolonised religious education curriculum.</p> 2021-08-03T00:00:00+00:00 Copyright (c) Kerk en burgerlike owerheid: Die Nederlandse geloofsbelydenis en drie kerkordes 2021-08-12T19:02:00+00:00 Piet J. Strauss <p><strong>Church and state authorithy:</strong>&nbsp;<strong>The Confessio Belgica and three church orders.</strong>&nbsp;In reformed churches the Bible is regarded as the norm of the norms. The confessions of faith of these churches are the second norm and subjected to the Bible. The church order is less powerful than the Bible and the confessions but of a higher status than the normal decisions of church assemblies. Therefore, the influence of the Belgic Confession on three church orders is an important issue in these churches.</p> <p>The author recommends four principles to understand the relation between the church and the state authority in article 36 of the Belgic Confession: both should honour God in their activities; both are guided by the Ten Commandments; both have their own internal law to fulfil the purpose as an institution; and both should respect and co-operate with one another. Although they are not in agreement on every aspect, these principles give the guidance to understand the main issue in all four documents which are investigated. The theme of this article is of a theological and church historical nature and a contribution on a well-discussed topic in reformed churches.</p> <p><strong>Contribution:</strong>&nbsp;It should be important for the reformed churches in the Dutch tradition that a dynamic relationship exists between their confessions of faith and their church orders. While the Bible is the first and most important norm for church life, the confessions are the second most important. Church history shows that the relationship between the church and state is of utmost importance for the church, the quality of the confessions and the order of the church.</p> 2021-08-03T00:00:00+00:00 Copyright (c) The Sufi order against religious radicalism in Indonesia 2021-08-12T19:02:02+00:00 Maghfur Ahmad Abdul Aziz Mochammad N. Afad Siti M. Muniroh Husnul Qodim <p>This study aimed to analyse the contribution of the Sufi order in stemming religion-based violence as a form of the Sufis’ response to rampant violence, extremism and religious radicalism. This study used a qualitative method in which the data were obtained through interviews, observation and documentation. Then they were analysed by using an interactive model. This study was carried out in three Sufi communities of the Sufi order Qadariyah wan Naqshabandiyah (TQN) in Indonesia, namely in Suryalaya Islamic Boarding School, Futuhiyyah Islamic Boarding School Mranggen and Darul Ulum Islamic Boarding School Jombang. The results of the study show that the three TQN orders have the concepts of dhikr and love, which are internalised in the act of Sufism. The Sufi order has the doctrines of love of God, mutual love, discourse of moderation and tolerance towards religion and other groups as the main instruments in the fight against religious radicalism. The resistance of the Sufis to religious radicalism shows that the Sufi order is cornered from attacks by formalist groups in religion. This fact reopens the historical archive of contradictions between the two major currents of Islamic thought and movement, Salafi versus Sufi. The counter-radicalism narrated by the Sufis of the three TQN communities represents their defensive attitude towards the aggressiveness of the textual and radical Salafis.</p> <p><strong>Contribution:</strong>&nbsp;This article contributes to prevent and reduce the rise of religious radicalism in Indonesia. The doctrines of tanbih, mahabbah, tolerance and moderatism developed by the Sufis in the three TQN communities became a source of reference and inspiration for resistance to violence and religious radicalism.</p> 2021-08-03T00:00:00+00:00 Copyright (c) Pentecostalism and migration: A contextual study of the migrant Ghanaian Classical Pentecostal churches in South Africa 2021-08-12T19:02:03+00:00 Peter White <p>Pentecostal phenomenon from history has always moved with migration. Reading Acts 1:8, Jesus linked the baptism of the Holy Spirit with the migration of his disciples and the gospel from Jerusalem to Judea and Samaria and to the end of the earth. Migration has become a worldwide, multi-directional phenomenon which is reshaping the Christian landscape. In this light, the article discussed Pentecostalism and migration by using two Ghanaian Classical Pentecostal churches in South Africa as a case study. The article looked at their history, leadership development, transfer of missionaries from Ghana and its implications, their concept of contextualisation as well as some of their impact in South Africa. The article submits that it is time for both churches to start thinking of decolonising their foreign mission churches by helping them have autonomous status.</p> <p><strong>Contribution:</strong>&nbsp;The article contributes to the on-going body of knowledge and research on migration with special emphasis on African classical Pentecostalism and migration. The study used Ghanaian Classical Pentecostal Churches in South Africa as a case study.</p> 2021-08-03T00:00:00+00:00 Copyright (c) The contribution of Ahlussunnah Waljamaah’s theology in establishing moderate Islam in Indonesia 2021-08-12T19:02:04+00:00 Imam Kanafi Harapandi Dahri imam.kanafi@ Susminingsih Susminingsih imam.kanafi@ Syamsul Bakhri imam.kanafi@ <p>Radicalism and Islamic phobia have the potential to cause conflict amongst religious communities so that it needs social movements in building religious moderation. This study aims to understand and analyse the Ahlussunnah Waljamaah theology in the six largest Islamic community organisations in Indonesia in implementing religious moderation. This study uses a qualitative method with a phenomenological approach. Data obtained from interviews, observations and in-depth interviews regarding the process of externalising, objectifying and internalising the theology of Ahlusunnah Waljamaah in Nahdlatul Ulama, Rifa’iyah, Muhammadiyah, Al-Irsyad, Lembaga Dakwah Islam Indonesia and Front Pembela Islam organisations. Then, the data were analysed through social construction theory of Peter L. Berger and T. Luckman. The results show that the six largest Islamic community organisations in Indonesia apply Ahlussunnah Waljamaahs theology. Those Islamic community organisations differently understand the externalisation of Ahlussunnah Waljamaah theology based on its teaching. Thus, it has implications for Aswaja’s model of application (objectification) in the fields of state, preaching, social and cultural life. Aswaja’s internalisation is reflected in the moderate character of the figures and followers of mass organisations in Indonesia. The Islamic community organisations contribute to build Islamic moderation character by applying an established and consistent theology of Ahlussunnah Waljamaah in various fields.</p> <p><strong>Contribution:</strong>&nbsp;This article provides insight into the contribution of Ahlussunnah Waljamaah’s theology in establishing moderate Islam in Indonesia. It contributes to build Islamic moderation’s character by applying an established and consistent theology of Ahlussunnah Waljamaah in various fields.</p> 2021-08-03T00:00:00+00:00 Copyright (c) Comparison between the respective views of John Calvin and classical Pentecostals on the role of the Holy Spirit in reading the Bible 2021-08-12T19:02:06+00:00 Marius Nel <p>The growth of the Pentecostal movement in the global south implies that its pneumatological emphases be noticed by other Christian traditions, including the hermeneutical processes followed to interpret the Bible, the Christians’ source of revelation about God. The aim of this article is to reflect on the role of the Spirit in the hermeneutical process, and it is done based on two traditions, the Reformed and Pentecostal movements, both of which play an important role within South African Christianity. Whilst the Reformed tradition, for the better part, concentrates on scientific and rational hermeneutics, in part neglecting the subjective influence of the Spirit in the processes of interpretation, John Calvin uses it as a hermeneutical principle. An attempt is made to compare and contrast Calvin’s and classical Pentecostals’ views by way of a comparative literature study. It is concluded that a pneumatological basis should serve as a condition for representative biblical hermeneutics. It implies that the church can benefit from revisiting its hermeneutics ecumenically with a definite consideration of the role of the Spirit in the processes of interpreting the Bible for contemporary people.</p> <p><strong>Contribution:</strong>&nbsp;In reading and interpreting the Bible, what role does the Holy Spirit play? The article asserts that a pneumatological basis should serve as a condition for representative biblical hermeneutics by comparing John Calvin’s and Pentecostals’ view of the subjective influence of the Spirit, concluding that an ecumenical revisiting of hermeneutics is necessary.</p> 2021-08-03T00:00:00+00:00 Copyright (c) Hasan Hanafi, new theology and cultural revolution: An analysis of cultural intensification 2021-08-12T19:02:07+00:00 Fadlil M. Manshur <p>In the perspective of Hasan Hanafi, the renewal of Islamic thought in the Arab world must produce a new concept of theology and present a cultural revolution. A new theology must be developed through a progressive life perspective rooted in liberation and social justice. It is intended to free Arab–Islamic society from regression and fragmentation, producing a society that is just, prosperous, and civilized. The renewal of Islamic thought must be progressive to ensure it can produce a cultural revolution that can create a populistic social and ideological structure in Arab life, thereby ensuring that the faithful are intelligent, modern, and have a high level of social solidarity. This study is guided by the theory of cultural intensification, which emphasizes that the relations between individuals and society are rooted in sociological, psychological, and theological challenges, and holds that social and divine laws are intended to promote a personal/collective emotional involvement in social life. The analysis emphasizes the relationship between Hasan Hanafi, as an individual, with general Arab society, with a focus on his understanding of social challenges, the psychological condition of Arab society, and classical theology. This study indicates that the Arab–Islamic world requires a new theology, one that is anthropocentric, populistic, and transformative, which remains grounded and oriented towards the realization of prosperity and social justice. Cultural revolution, meanwhile, offers a liberational ideology for the subjugated as well as legitimization for every social struggle. It also holds that no entity that exists on its own, without any humanitarian context, has meaning; there is only a correlational truth connecting objective reality and universal human values. As such, new theology—in conjunction with cultural revolution—can radically transform the orientation of Arab–Islamic thought from static, passive, and traditional to progressive and oppositional. In doing so, it can offer liberation and social justice.</p> <p><strong>Contribution:</strong>&nbsp;This article provides intelectual framework to dissect Hasan Hanafi’s new theological ideas by using cultural perspective, particularly cultural intensification theory, as well as work praxis in effort to build democratic, egalitarian, just, equality before the law, and uphold human rights of Muslim society.</p> 2021-08-03T00:00:00+00:00 Copyright (c) Prophets competing against each other in a commercial age: Have some prophets or neoprophetic churches gone too far? 2021-08-12T19:02:08+00:00 Hulisani Ramantswana Ithapeleng Sebetseli <div> <p>In recent years, there is growing concern with some of the bizarre practices in some neoprophetic churches. Amongst the concerns raised are the bizarre practices and the commercialisation of churches with claims that churches are being turned into lucrative businesses. In this article, the relationship amongst prophets, churches and commerce is explored, focusing on competitive behaviour in an open market or free market. The article engages the following issues: firstly, the issue of religious marketing in the context of a free market and consumerism; secondly, branding faith in relation to competition between churches and brands of prophets and thirdly, fraudulent activities facilitated by prophets.</p> <p><strong>Contribution:</strong>&nbsp;The article provides a critical assessment of the practices of prophets and neoprophetic churches considering their commercial interests. Thus, the study points to the intersection between religion and commerce.</p> </div> 2021-08-03T00:00:00+00:00 Copyright (c) Revelation as a discourse of language through speech act theory 2021-08-12T19:02:09+00:00 Anna Cho <p>Systematic theology regards revelation as a divine discourse between God and us. However, it seems that it does not fully explain how God’s divine discourse transforms our life and what implications it has. Therefore, this article suggests investigating ‘revelation as a discourse of language’ in the light of speech act theory (SAT). If we illuminate revelation as a discourse of language as a SAT, the following three hermeneutical contributions to revelation are expected: firstly, revelation is a ‘communicative act’ between God and believer as a ‘discourse of language’ of God; secondly, it shows how the language of revelation bridges the gap between ‘divine language’ and ‘human language’ in terms of revelation as a discourse of language, and thirdly, it confirms how God’s Word (revelation) is real in the lives of believers.</p> <p><strong>Contribution:</strong>&nbsp;While this article engages the traditional theological notion of revelation as a discourse of language between God and humans, it argues that reconsidering this notion in the light of speech act theory. It can explain God’s language discourse transforms the lives of believers and the Word (revelation) is fulfilled in their lives.</p> 2021-08-03T00:00:00+00:00 Copyright (c) Hindrance as a motivation in divine guidance: The example of Paul 2021-08-12T19:02:10+00:00 Mark Wilson <p>A number of factors are at work as they relate to divine guidance in the life of a Christian. Examples of odegeology – the neologism given to this dimension of practical theology – are discussed in this article around the scriptural topos of hindrance as a motivation in Paul’s guidance. Four examples are considered that are drawn from the book of Acts and from his own letters. The circumstances related to these hindrances are discussed, and relevant applications are drawn from them. The article closes with a contemporary example of hindrance resulting from the coronavirus pandemic of 2019. It looks at lessons Christians are learning about the hindrances caused by this virus as they cope with restrictive stay-at-home orders. These are suggested as somewhat analogous to Paul’s two extended imprisonments.</p> <p><strong>Contribution:</strong>&nbsp;This article is the first to explore systematically all the texts regarding hindrance as a motivation for guidance related to Paul in the book of Acts and his letters. Guidance in the Christian life remains an important dimension within Practical Theology, a theological discipline within the journal’s publishing tradition.</p> 2021-08-03T00:00:00+00:00 Copyright (c) A new perspective on sin in the age of globalisation: Analyses and reflections of sin in the case of nationstate building of the United States 2021-08-12T19:02:11+00:00 Ho Chul Kwak <div> <p>An interconnected and interdependent world in the age of globalisation invites Christianity to a different understanding of sin, which has been individualistically understood, because individualistic understanding of sin is impotent to address injustice or oppression caused by collective sins, wherein human beings have been collectively involved in. In order to overcome individualistic understanding of sin, this article is critically engaged in the concepts, such as concrete totality, which sees both individuality and socialness as constitutive parts of human beings, tyranny of collective identity through which oppression and injustice is carried out to unspecified others and retreat from truth to omnipotence, which is a concretised example of tyranny of collective identity in a nation-state building of the United States. Retreat from truth to omnipotence means that the United States covers its blamable history with relation to Native Americans and immigrants and justifies the discrimination and exclusion of others using untrue social, political, hygienic and economic reasons. Retreat from truth to omnipotence is not a temporal aberration but a constant repetition in the US history. To address discrimination and exclusion of others necessitates a new understanding of sin, that is, sin of human beings as concrete totality rather than an exclusively individualistic view of sin.</p> <p><strong>Contribution:</strong>&nbsp;The article explores a necessity of emphasizing collective dimension of sin to address injustice and oppression caused by tyranny of collective identity in a globalizing world. It provides a theological foundation for building a welcoming political community to immigrants who have been unjustly discriminated or excluded.</p> </div> 2021-08-03T00:00:00+00:00 Copyright (c) Hindu-Muslim relations in Kashmir: A critical evaluation 2021-08-12T19:02:12+00:00 Amos Y. Luka <p>India was under British colonial rule for a good number of years with her plural ethno-religious background and identity, which was to become the basis of an unending conflict. Several pre-colonial and post-colonial conditioning antecedents have been marshalled to buttress the premise leading to the conclusion that the British colonial era laid the time bomb along ethno-religious contours which exploded in 1947 thereby giving rise to the balkanisation of India into two separate states, that is India and Pakistan. Two major religious groups that is Hindus and Muslims became the gladiators in India’s partition. The Kashmir region of India, a town of religious confluence, has a history of conflicts that is perceived by different people as politico-religious and socio-economic. This article focuses on religion as a core tenet of every cultural worldview and its significance to both Hindus and Muslims, and how it has become the progressively vital central marker of identity and a smouldering keg of gun powder for conflict in Kashmir. Furthermore, this article contends that religion plays a key role in the conflict between Hindus and Muslims in Kashmir because of its significance and influence on both religions. India that is known as a mother to various religions cannot relegate the primary role of religion in their political and socio-economic affairs. Therefore, it is right to acknowledge politico-religious and socio-economic factors in the Hindu–Muslim conflict in the state of Kashmir. And, it will not be wrong to affirm that religion plays a key role in the conflict between Hindus and Muslims in Kashmir.</p> <p><strong>Contribution:</strong>&nbsp;The article is a contribution in religious issues in India. It reveals how political power and sociopolitical antecedents are mostly recognised by religious scholars and historians as the reason for the fracas between Hindus and Muslims. It explains the influence and implication of religion in the Hindu-Muslim relations in Kashmir region.</p> 2021-08-03T00:00:00+00:00 Copyright (c) Spiritualised political theology in a polarised political environment: A Pentecostal movement’s response to party politics in Zimbabwe 2021-08-12T19:02:14+00:00 Phillip Musoni <div> <p>This article interrogates the interface between the older Pentecostal movement and politics in Zimbabwe. The country continues to face political violence and a breakdown in rule of law. The Zimbabwean populace is asking whether the Zimbabwean Pentecostal movement is ready and able to exercise its prophetic role in promoting real peace and democracy. Many Zimbabweans are asking this question, because the track record shows that whilst most mainline churches have been consistent in becoming the voice of the voiceless, some Zimbabwean Pentecostal churches seem to have been sitting on the fence for too long by adopting a middle of the road stance, thereby avoiding a head-on confrontation with the corrupt Zimbabwe African National Union–Patriotic Front (ZANU–PF) government. In this article, I argue that for many decades the Zimbabwean Pentecostal movement has taken what one might refer to ironically as a ‘smart approach to politics’–in which the image of the ZANU–PF government is sanitised by espousing what I call a ‘spiritualised political theology.’ I use this critique, whilst remaining cognisant of the fact that the primary motivation of the movement on which I focus in this article, was evangelism, not politics. Thus, for the purpose of this research, the Zimbabwe Assemblies of God Africa (ZAOGA) of Apostle Ezekiel Guti was sampled to investigate its prophetic voice in a polarised political environment. This article examines the history of Apostle Guti’s political subterfuge based on the reflections of his pastoral letters referred to as the ‘Ten-days prayer letters’ issued since 1975 up to the time of writing this article. It is important at this early stage to outline that these letters were not political statements or meant to address politics only but theological letters addressing different social ills including politics. Thus, reading this letter one shall see that Apostle’s political subterfuge demonstrated a continuous oscillation of a theological position on how the church should relate to politics. Furthermore, I undertake a brief examination of other few millennial Zimbabwean Pentecostal churches to see if this political subterfuge transcended elsewhere thereby propagating a spiritualised political theology.</p> <p><strong>Contribution:</strong>&nbsp;What is key to note is the fact that the Zimbabwean Pentecostal movement remained insignificant with regard to democratization agenda even after the removal of President Mugabe. The above claim is evidenced by the Zimbabwean Pentecostal church founders’ continuous political subterfuge authenticated by a propagation of a spiritualized political theology.</p> </div> 2021-08-03T00:00:00+00:00 Copyright (c) Transversal modes of being a missional church in the digital context of COVID-19 2021-08-12T19:02:15+00:00 Buhle Mpofu <p>The disruptions of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in the year 2020 reshaped all aspects of life, including religious practices and rituals. As more religious activities shifted to digital space during the lockdown periods, there was a growing need to examine the link between religion and digital media. Using the model of the Uniting Presbyterian Church in Southern Africa (UPCSA), this article draws on the notion of transversal rationality and concepts of rationality, cognitive, evaluative and pragmatic to posit that COVID-19 has configured traditional missional and liturgical spaces in ways that locate the agency of the marginalised at the centre. The article highlights how COVID-19 configured Christian mission as it disrupted power dynamics through religious digital spaces, which emerged as a new way of reimaging a missional church. These new digital spaces mediate between interaction and ‘telepresence’, embodied in the representations of the sacred available through online religious systems in practices where users are no longer ordinary believers – but religious participants who have power and freedom to choose. Although this is not a new phenomenon, the article concludes that such spaces created by COVID-19 shifts in power dynamics present opportunities for ordinary members to reinvent new meanings on what it means to be present or absent, to name, narrate and reinterpret the divine and forge new meanings towards participating in the mission of God.</p> <p><strong>Contribution:</strong>&nbsp;Although this is not a new phenomenon, this article represents a systematic and practical reflection within a paradigm in which the intersection of philosophy, religious studies, social sciences, humanities and natural sciences generate an interdisciplinary, multidisciplinary and transdisciplinary contested discourse.</p> 2021-08-03T00:00:00+00:00 Copyright (c) Redemption and restoration: The anti-slavery/ trafficking call of Christian missions in South Africa today 2021-08-12T19:02:17+00:00 Siphiwe I. Dube <p>This article engages with the religious dimension of the politics of anti-slavery/trafficking and presents an analysis of select Christian-identified organisations working in anti-slavery/trafficking in South Africa. Using website content of the select organisations as primary material, the article argues that in similar ways to the paternalistic early Christian missionary approach to indigenous religious practices, the politics of paternalism persist to this day in the realm of Christian organisations working in anti-slavery in South Africa. That is, the ‘White Saviour Industrial Complex’ identified by Teju Cole is pervasive in the rhetoric of these Christian organisations. Consequently, and firstly, the article further bolsters the argument that the African continent has frequently been treated as a key site for formulating and testing a variety of models of humanitarian assistance, aid and economic development dating from the colonial era to the present neocolonial one. However, and secondly, the article also highlights that there is ambivalence in the ways in which the Christian anti-slavery/trafficking organisations in South Africa take up a key feminist concept of empowerment as informing how they understand their work. As such, the article proposes that caution be applied in critically engaging the discourse of these organisations.</p> <p><strong>Contribution:</strong>&nbsp;This article engages with the religious dimension of the politics of anti-slavery/trafficking and presents an analysis of select Christian-identified organisations working in anti-slavery/trafficking in South Africa. The article illustrates how the intersection of political studies and religion is part of the journal’s focus on interdisciplinary, multidisciplinary and transdisciplinary contested discourse.</p> 2021-08-03T00:00:00+00:00 Copyright (c) Practical ministry and finances: A case study from InnerCHANGE South Africa 2021-08-12T19:02:20+00:00 Kgotso K.T.L. Kabongo <div> <p>The church is called to be a tangible messenger of hope in society. Communities of poverty, especially, need a church that carries its mandate both through proclamation and through deed. This research is a case study of a team located in South Africa that is part of an international missional order called InnerCHANGE. The latter focuses on discipleship and the nurturing of local leaders who are community builders in areas of poverty. This focus is expressed through practical ministry initiatives. The latter necessitates finances through the team does not always have. A desire to overcome its financial challenges led it to decide to get some training in financial literacy, so that it can improve its fundraising efforts. This training was provided by a finance broker. The latter started his teaching with personal finances before going into organisational finances. He believed that good personal financial stewardship leads to good corporate financial stewardship. The outcome of this training led ICSA staff and the board of directors to diversify their fundraising efforts and to set the target of saving 15% of its income. The work is still in progress for reaching this target. However, for 2 years in a row, ICSA has been making some good progress in increasing its income and savings. This article concludes by advising the body of Christ serving from below to pursue training in financial management so that it can strengthen its checks and balance system which could lead to sustainability.</p> <p><strong>Contribution:</strong>&nbsp;This article contributes to the on-going discussions about financially sustainable models of the church from below in Africa so that the church can remain an important role player in serving local communities practically. It uses InnerCHANGE South Africa as a case study of such efforts.</p> </div> 2021-08-03T00:00:00+00:00 Copyright (c) He said that the manna is that called taranjebin’: Ibn Ezra against Hiwi al-Balkhi’s interpretation of the biblical story of the manna 2021-08-12T19:02:21+00:00 Abraham O. Shemesh <p>The biblical story on the miracle of the manna in the Sinai Desert aroused many discussions and interpretations over the generations. The current study focuses on Ibn Ezra’s controversy with Hiwi al-Balkhi on the question of whether the manna was a natural or miraculous phenomenon. The article explores the claims of the two sides in light of the historical evidence and the literature describing the phenomenon of ‘falling manna’ in various areas of the Sinai Desert and Eastern countries. According to Hiwi, the manna that rained down on the Israelites is taranjebin, a semi-liquid resinous sweet secretion of insects (honeydew) that exudes onto plants. Ibn Ezra deals with Hiwi’s claims through a series of refutations and arguments. He argues that the characteristics of the taranjebin do not fit the description of the biblical manna. For example, it does not come down in the Sinai Desert, it appears during a limited season, does not melt in the sun and does not rot during the night, and serves as a medicine rather than as food.</p> <p><strong>Contribution:</strong>&nbsp;This article contributes to the understanding of Hiwi al-Balkhi’s identification of the biblical manna as honeydew and Ibn Ezra’s claims against his thesis. It expounds the commentators’ interpretations from a multidisciplinary perspective, such as the reality of harvesting the taranjebin in Iran and North Africa and its uses as food and medicine in the medieval culture.</p> 2021-08-03T00:00:00+00:00 Copyright (c) African spirituality in the Johane Masowe Chishanu religious movement in Zimbabwe: A Christian church-sect dichotomy 2021-08-12T19:02:23+00:00 Phillip Musoni <div> <p>This study explored the impact of African indigenous spirituality on African indigenous churches (AICs), particularly in the Zimbabwean context, a special focus was on the Johane Masowe Chishanu (JMC) religious movement spirituality. The spirituality of the JMC religious movement is examined by cross-examining its denigration of the centrality of the Bible, the historical Jesus and the temple gathering as the movement appropriates and re-socialises traditional African shrines for religious gatherings. Thus, the following questions are raised in this study: is the appropriation and resocialisation of African traditional shrines, the denigration of the Bible and the disregarding of the historical Jesus for salvation by the JMC a conscious or unconscious move? If it is a conscious move, the follow-up question is: what motivates the JMC religious movement to regard such religious shrines, whilst disregarding the Bible and Jesus for its spirituality and, because of this, does the JMC religious movement retain the label ‘a Christian church’ or has become a sect?</p> <p><strong>Contribution:</strong>&nbsp;While majority of African scholars were celebrating the proliferation of Christianity in the continent as evidenced by an unremitting mushrooming of African Indigenous Churches, some Zimbabwean scholars were categorizing Johane Masowe Chishanu church a sect. Therefore, this article examine the veracity and provenances of the Johane Masowe Chishanu church-sect dichotomy in Zimbabwe.</p> </div> 2021-08-03T00:00:00+00:00 Copyright (c) Theological reflection, divorced from the incarnational nature of the Christian faith, invalidates the Bible 2021-08-12T19:02:24+00:00 Jennifer Slater <p>This article draws its inspiration from the famous excerpt of the 5th century Father and Doctor of the Roman Catholic Church, Jerome, who firmly claims in his Commentary on Isaiah (Nn 1.2: CCL 73, 1–3)&nbsp;<em>that ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ</em>. By this exhortation he urged Christians to recognise the serious necessity to study the Word of God as it is not an optional luxury to be used and interpreted with tawdriness. The secret of this renowned biblical scholar was to adhere to a fundamental criterion, namely, to interpret the Holy Scriptures in harmony with the Roman Catholic Church’s magisterium, and thus no person is at liberty to interpret the scriptures alone and slip into self-righteous error. Jerome believed that the authentic interpretation of Scripture is harmonious with the faith of the (Catholic) Church and when ‘correctly attuned’, only then the reader is authorised to understand Sacred Scripture. Scripture is the foundation of theological truth and this article endeavours to disclose that when the bible is not perceived as an inexhaustible source of inspiration and guidance, it is left open for distasteful interpretations and becomes a recipe for scripture twisting. Relevant and engaging theology is biblically connected and when theological reflection is not embedded in the biblical narrative and contemporary life, Scripture is invalidated. Hence, Jerome cautioned: ‘[<em>r</em>]emain firmly attached to the traditional doctrine that you have been taught, so that you can preach according to right doctrine and refute those who contradict it’ (Eph 52, 7).</p> <p><strong>Contribution:</strong>&nbsp;The point of departure of this article is that for Christians Scripture is the foundation of theological truth. Its contribution lays in the art of authentic scripture interpretation and by so doing the scholar keeps trend with the Christian faith and precludes complacent error.</p> 2021-08-03T00:00:00+00:00 Copyright (c) Supporting Polish-Ukraine: A case study on the Afrikaans churches’ reaction to communism 2021-08-12T19:02:25+00:00 Herman (Erik) H. van Alten <p>This article explores the role of the Afrikaans sister churches during the initial stages of the fight against communism. After initially sketching the relations between South Africa and Russia until the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917, focus is placed on a narrow case of financial support from the side of the Reformed Church in South Africa (the GKSA) via the Reformed Churches in the Netherlands towards the reformed movement in Polish-Ukraine during the 1930s and 1940s. Through the use of primary sources, this small historical cross-section illustrates how the GKSA, in cooperation with the other Afrikaans churches, fought the battle against communism during these initial stages. It also highlights the motivations that drove them. The sources reveal that the GKSA was not only concerned about the Reformed movement in far-away Polish-Ukraine, but that there was also a healthy measure of self-preservation and self-interest involved, protecting South Africa and its Christian population from the influence of communism by subtly promoting Calvinism as a formative paradigm for Afrikaner nationalism.</p> <p><strong>Contribution:</strong>&nbsp;This article contributes to a better understanding of the relations between Reformed Churches in South Africa and Eastern Europe during the first half of the 20th century, as well as to the role of the churches in fighting what it perceived as dangerous ideological influences.</p> 2021-08-03T00:00:00+00:00 Copyright (c) Blessings or curses? The contribution of the blesser phenomenon to gender-based violence and intimate partner violence 2021-08-12T19:02:26+00:00 Brent V. Frieslaar Maake Masango <p>This article examines the blesser phenomenon in South Africa, which gained rapid popularity in 2016. A large body of research exists that reveals that transactional sex is a significant theme within the phenomenon of blesser and blessee relationships. Scholarship has demonstrated that transactional sex has contributed to an increase in human immunodeficiency virus infection rates, especially amongst women aged 15–24 years, as well as a concerning increase in teenage pregnancy. Whilst these are dire realities of blesser–blessee relationships, the one that is most concerning in the current climate in South Africa is the increase in gender-based violence (GBV), intimate partner violence (IPV) and femicide. Therefore, this article concerns itself primarily with this epidemic as it seeks to demonstrate how the blesser phenomenon contributes to GBV and IPV. Blessees are the young women in the blesser–blessee relationships who experience trauma and shame because of the violence and abuse inflicted on them by the older male blessers. The article argues that the church should be seen to be taking decisive action in addressing the scourge of GBV and IPV. The narrative approach is used to give the blessees the opportunity to share their stories. By applying the techniques of narrative therapy, positive deconstruction and the art of holy listening, the study reaches its key outcome: to offer to the church a framework for a pastoral care and healing methodology to help our sisters in Christ to experience healing and to move from shame to self-worth.</p> <p><strong>Contribution:</strong>&nbsp;The Blesser phenomen has never been dealt with in theology, especially from the African perspective. Both sides of the problem need pastoral care. The major issue is where do we begin? I started, pastorally working with the blessee, who is in relationship with an older man. The main question that could be pastorally followed is, why pursue an older man for provision? This is a major pastoral issue, especially in poor communities. The younger women are in need of finance, in order to complete their studies and eke out a living. Beside the Covid 19 pandemic, this is the second major issue affecting black townships.</p> 2021-08-03T00:00:00+00:00 Copyright (c) God, the beautiful and mathematics: A response 2021-08-12T19:02:28+00:00 Peter-Ben Smit Rianne de Heide <p>Volker Kessler (‘God becomes beautiful … in mathematics’ – HTS 2018) argues two points to Rudolf Bohren’s list of four areas where (1) God becomes beautiful should be extended with a fifth one: mathematics and (2) mathematics can be argued as a place where God becomes beautiful. In this response, we would like to argue that (1) the extension of Bohren’s list that Kessler argues in favour of is superfluous and (2) that Kessler makes a number of questionable assumptions about (the philosophy of) mathematics. By arguing against Kessler, we intend to make an interdisciplinary contribution to the discussion about the relationship between mathematics and theology by pushing the debate into direction of a more careful consideration of mathematics as an area in which God’s beauty may become apparent.</p> <p><strong>Contribution:</strong>&nbsp;Contributing to the interdisciplinary exploration of theology in&nbsp;<em>HTS Teologiese Studies/Theological Studies</em>, this article further develops the consideration of the fundamental theological topic of God, the beautiful and mathematics as it was proposed in this journal by Volker Kessler, by discussing it from a systematic theological and mathematical perspective.</p> 2021-08-03T00:00:00+00:00 Copyright (c) The case for post-scholasticism as an internal period indicator in Medieval philosophy 2021-08-12T19:02:29+00:00 Johann Beukes <p>This article responds to a critical research challenge in Medieval philosophy scholarship regarding the internal periodisation of the register. By arguing the case for ‘post-scholasticism’ as an internal period indicator (1349–1464, the era between the deaths of William of Ockham and Nicholas of Cusa), defined as ‘the transformation of high scholasticism on the basis of a selective departure thereof’, the article specifies a predisposition in the majority of introductions to and commentaries in Medieval philosophy to proceed straight from 1349 to 1464, understating 115 years of pertinent Medieval philosophical discourse. It is argued that in the modern account of Medieval philosophy, this understatement is manifested in either a predating of Renaissance philosophy to close the gap between 1349 and 1464 as far as possible or in proceeding straight from 1349 to Renaissance philosophy. The article presents five unique philosophical themes from this delicate period, indicating that ‘post-scholasticism’ was indeed a productive period in late Medieval philosophy, which should not be bypassed as an inconsequential entrance to Renaissance philosophy. The period 1349–1464 should accordingly be appreciated for its idiosyncratic contributions to the history of ideas in the late-14th and early-15th centuries, with reference to the political intensification of the&nbsp;<em>via moderna</em>, the pivotal separation of philosophy and theology and the resulting independence of the natural sciences,&nbsp;<em>in res</em>&nbsp;critique of institutions, transforming pragmatics and the rise of philosophical materialism.</p> <p><strong>Contribution:</strong>&nbsp;This article contributes to methodological development in Medieval philosophy by responding to a critical research challenge regarding the internal periodisation of the later Middle Ages. Arguing the case for ‘post-scholasticism’ as an internal period indicator (1349 to 1464 in Medieval philosophy, the article presents unique philosophical themes from the period, indicating that it was a productive stage in late Medieval philosophy which should not be bypassed as an inconsequential entrance to Renaissance philosophy.</p> 2021-08-03T00:00:00+00:00 Copyright (c) Neoplatonism in the Cologne tradition of the later Middle Ages: Berthold of Moosburg (ca. 1300–1361) as case study 2021-08-12T19:02:30+00:00 Johann Beukes <p>The objective of this article is to present an overview, based on the most recent specialist research, of Neoplatonist developments in the Cologne tradition of the later Middle Ages, with specific reference to a unique Proclian commentary presented by the German Albertist Dominican, Berthold of Moosburg (ca. 1300–1361). Situating Berthold in the post-Eckhart Dominican crisis of the 1340s and 1350s, his rehabilitating initiative of presenting this extensive (nine-volume) commentary on the Neoplatonist Proclus Lycaeus’ (412–485)&nbsp;<em>Elements of Theology</em>&nbsp;in his&nbsp;<em>Expositio super Elementationem theologicam Procli</em>, the only of its kind from the Middle Ages, is contextualised with reference to Berthold’s discursive indebtedness to his Dominican predecessors, Albert the Great (ca. 1200–1280), Ulrich of Strasbourg (ca. 1220–1277) and Dietrich of Freiberg (ca.1250 – ca.1310), as well as two Dutch-Cologne successors, the Albertist Heymeric of Camp (1395–1460) and the Carthusian Thomist Denys de Leeuwis (1402–1471). Berthold’s unique contribution to the philosophical discourse of the Middle Ages is indicated therein that the&nbsp;<em>Expositio</em>&nbsp;provided a synthesis of the late Medieval version of Neoplatonism and contemporaneous German–Dominican theories. By contextualising the work of his Cologne predecessors and successors in the broad idea-historical landscape of antiquity and Neoplatonism, the article argues that Berthold succeeded in linking the Neoplatonic legacy with Cologne Albertism and provided an impetus for the overall consolidating ability of the Cologne tradition. By juxtaposing Berthold and his&nbsp;<em>Expositio</em>&nbsp;with the more conventional legacies of Ulrich, Dietrich, Heymeric and Denys, this exceptional Latin-Western intellectual tradition from Cologne is expanded and enriched with regard to its notable Neoplatonic contributions to philosophy in the later Middle Ages.</p> <p><strong>Contribution:</strong>&nbsp;This article contributes to scholarship in Medieval philosophy by presenting an overview of Neoplatonist developments in the Cologne tradition of the later Middle Ages, with specific reference to the Proclian commentary presented by the German Albertist Dominican, Berthold of Moosburg (ca. 1300–1361). By contextualising the work of Berthold’s Cologne predecessors and successors in the broad idea-historical landscape of antiquity and Neoplatonism, the article indicates that Berthold succeeded in linking the Neoplatonic legacy with Cologne Albertism and provided an impetus for the overall consolidating ability of the Cologne tradition during the later Middle Ages.</p> 2021-08-03T00:00:00+00:00 Copyright (c) Patriarchy and marital disharmony amongst Nigerian Christians: Ephesians 5:22–33 as a response 2021-08-12T19:02:31+00:00 Solomon O. Ademiluka <p>This article employs the descriptive and exegetical methods. It found several ways by which patriarchy precipitates marital disharmony in Nigeria. For instance, the custom of the bride price instils in the husband the feeling of ownership of the wife, which encourages some men to treat their wives like their property. The nature of marital disharmony varies with couples, but there are some common characteristics. The husband may withdraw from his wife, avoiding all forms of contact and communication with her; wife beating is also common. Ephesians 5:22-33 mitigates the patriarchal view of marriage, redefining the concepts of submission and leadership. The wife should submit to her husband’s authority as she would to Christ whilst the husband should exercise his authority with love in imitation of Christ. When this new definition of marital relationship is understood and applied by Christian couples, disharmony will be considerably alleviated. The church should be involved in the application of the text, teaching husbands particularly the need to exercise their authority in sacrificial love.</p> <p><strong>Contribution:</strong>&nbsp;The article endorses the journal’s focus on the combination of the notions ‘source’ and ‘interpretation’ by its emphasis on the exegesis of writings in the field of early Christian literature.</p> 2021-08-03T00:00:00+00:00 Copyright (c) Reading the Fourth Gospel in the COVID-19 pandemic context 2021-08-12T19:02:33+00:00 Johnson Thomaskutty <p>The Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic situation persuades a reader of the Fourth Gospel to interpret the Scripture in new lights. In the contemporary context, the gospel of John has the potential to attune the attention of the reader towards the existential struggles of the people with myriad interpretative possibilities. The Jews often twinned sinfulness and sickness together, and in that light, they considered Jesus as a social sinner and his followers as a diseased community. The Johannine narrator realigns the struggles of the&nbsp;<em>Sitz im Leben Kirche</em>&nbsp;dynamically within the&nbsp;<em>Sitz im Leben Jesu</em>&nbsp;to present his defensive rhetoric. The Johannine community was composed of those who suffered quarantine, social isolation, sicknesses, resource deficiencies and continuous cleansing processes in the socio-religious and politico-cultural setting of their life. Jesus as the creator of the universe and the giver of life provides them hope in the midst of suffering and liberates them from the clutches of dehumanisation and marginalisation. A realignment of the&nbsp;<em>Sitz im Leben</em>&nbsp;COVID-19 within the framework of the&nbsp;<em>Sitz im Leben Jesu/Sitz im Leben Kirche</em>&nbsp;would guide us during the difficult times.</p> <p><strong>Contribution:</strong>&nbsp;This article contributes to the reader a wider hermeneutical framework and a new way forward in interpreting the Fourth Gospel by taking into consideration the ongoing struggle of humanity across the globe during the COVID-19 pandemic situation. As a narrative, contextual and theological interpretation of the Fourth Gospel, the current article fits well within the scope of&nbsp;<em>HTS Teologiese Studies/Theological Studies</em>.</p> 2021-08-03T00:00:00+00:00 Copyright (c) Turning religion from cause to reducer of panic during the COVID-19 pandemic 2021-08-12T19:02:34+00:00 Muhammad Y. Wibisono Dody S. Truna Mohammad T. Rahman <p>Muslim communities in the village facing the COVID-19 Pandemic attempts to find refuge from the plague and hope for survival. However, this led to more caution, which may lead to xenophobia. Via ethnography, this study unmasks the xenophobic attitude. This research discusses the root causes of panic in the community so that remedies can be implemented. The research attempts to explain, from a socio-anthropological viewpoint, how people and religious groups in the village perceive the pandemic of COVID-19 based on their belief in their faith and in the science. The research takes place in Cigagak village, an area of approximately 7000 m<sup>2</sup>&nbsp;on the outskirts of Bandung of West Java of Indonesia. This study examines the selected respondents (20 respondents as the samples) from about 190 inhabitants (as the population) who had close ties to managing places of worship (mosques) and public places. This study utilises a collaborative self-ethnographic method and qualitative analysis. The influence of COVID-19 has moved to new exclusive and disintegrating practices from the inclusion-cohesive religious tradition. Therefore, this study tries to find out ways on how to reduce exclusive perception and religious practices to a minimum level and how to disappear xenophobia. Amid the COVID-19 Pandemic, inclusive awareness and actions were re-established, and even social cohesiveness was fostered. This study concludes that in its deep conviction nature, theology can change exclusive behaviour to be inclusive if it is based on the religious principles that are raised in response to human events. In this case, the Muslim community in a village can change the fear of COVID-19 pandemic to be a reducer of the panic based on the support of the religious doctrines.</p> <p><strong>Contribution:</strong>&nbsp;This article used a collaborative self-ethnography with a religious socio-anthropological viewpoint. This study could help to solve social problems through theological convergence in Islamic milieu, especially that of the government’s formal Islamic organisation and organic Islamic leaders of the society.</p> 2021-08-03T00:00:00+00:00 Copyright (c) Taking a holistic view of the biblical perspectives on childlessness: Implications for Nigerian Christians and the church in Nigeria 2021-08-12T19:02:35+00:00 Solomon O. Ademiluka <p>The belief amongst some Christians that it is God’s plan for everyone to have children, and that barrenness is a punishment from God is apparently derived from the Old Testament (OT). This article attempts a holistic study of the biblical perspectives on childlessness with a view to ascertain whether procreation is a moral responsibility of every individual. The target group includes Nigerian Christian couples suffering from infertility. The article employs the descriptive and exegetical methods. The study revealed that the belief that the OT views barrenness as caused by sin and a punishment from God was erroneous. A critical examination of the relevant texts revealed that infertility is a natural phenomenon, and God gives children as a blessing but not necessarily to every individual. In the New Testament (NT), the attitude towards childlessness is characterised by the concept of ‘alternative family models’, by which some Christians could adopt children whilst others might choose to be celibate, being satisfied with their membership of the community of believers. Paul’s teaching in 1 Corinthians 7 clearly mitigates natural childbearing, and thus negates any attitude of desperation for bearing children. In the Nigerian context, this interpretation necessitates a change of attitude towards infertility. The church has to develop a theological reconstruction with regard to procreation in marriage, in a manner that will assure Christians that a childless marriage is not lacking in any way.</p> <p><strong>Contribution:</strong>&nbsp;The article is a contribution in the area of theology of marriage, and thus of high relevance in contemporary Africa, particularly Nigeria, where people, including Christians, still have the traditional belief that it is morally mandatory for everyone to have biological children.</p> 2021-08-03T00:00:00+00:00 Copyright (c) From a pit to a palace: Deconstructing the economics and politics of labour migration in the City of Tshwane through the lenses of Genesis 41:41–57 2021-08-12T19:02:36+00:00 Thinandavha D. Mashau Leomile Mangoedi <div> <p>Migration to the City of Tshwane has, amongst others, been propelled by economic and political dynamics. This has always manifested in the scramble for resources as internal and cross-border migrants struggle to access the mainstream economy of the host city and country. Competition between locals and foreign nationals, social exclusion and xenophobic attacks on foreign nationals has always been part of the narrative around political and economic migration. This article seeks to provide a deconstruction of the economics and politics of migration – particularly how cross-border labour migrants can benefit the host city and country. Using the literature review and contextual Bible study of Genesis 41:41–57 from the lenses of both trained and ordinary readers, this article concluded that cross-border migrants, given the necessary space and proper reception, can contribute immensely towards the growth of the mainstream economy of the host city and nation as demonstrated by Joseph’s contribution in Egypt.</p> <p><strong>Contribution:</strong>&nbsp;This article’s contribution is within a paradigm in which the intersection of philosophy, social sciences, humanities and biblical studies generates a scientific discourse which involves a systematic, historical, exegetical and practical reflection.</p> </div> 2021-08-04T00:00:00+00:00 Copyright (c) Karl Barth’s doctrine of creation: Convergence and divergence with African Christology 2021-08-12T19:02:37+00:00 Patricia Ngwena <div> <p>This article explores the intersection between Karl Barth’s doctrine of creation and African Christology seeking to elicit similarities as well as differences. It argues that this intersection is contested and open to different understanding and interpretation. The common goal amongst the two doctrines is that they derive from biblical teachings about creation and the creator. However, there is also divergence between the doctrines. Barth’s point of departure in his doctrine of creation maintains the Covenant of God to humanity which is not extended to all creation. African Christology’s point of departure, on the other hand, maintains that the relations between God, humanity and all life-forms are sacred because of its intrinsic value and sacramental nature. From an African perspective, creation is mutually related and interconnected to the web of life. All life forms hold intrinsic value. It is argued that African Christology implicates Barth’s Christological focus as something that reveals Barth’s doctrine of creation as anthropocentric.</p> <strong>Contribution:</strong>&nbsp;The article promotes a multi-disciplinary approach to eco-theology by exploring the intersection between Karl Barth’s doctrine of creation and an African Christological perspective on ecology. It implicates Christian anthropocentrism as a contributory factor to ecological degradation and suggests that African Christology is an important resource for developing a remedial eco-theology</div> 2021-08-04T00:00:00+00:00 Copyright (c) Lowalangi: From the name of an ethnic religious figure to the name of God 2021-08-12T19:02:38+00:00 Sonny E. Zaluchu <div id="articleAbstract"> <div> <p>This article shows the success of local cultural adaptation strategies in communicating the gospel to people of the Nias ethnicity in North Sumatra, Indonesia. This adaptation is the name Lowalangi, the name of the god of the pre-Christian era, to become the name of God, the creator and saviour of the world incarnated in the person of Jesus Christ. As a result, the use of this name was not limited to a translation process. Still, the whole concept of divinity for the Nias people was transferred and transformed into a Christian understanding. They know him as Lowalangi, have faith in him and pray to him in that name. The author uses a comparative analysis with other places in Indonesia. The author tries to establish parallelism with methods used elsewhere, assuming that the methods used tend to be the same.</p> <p><strong>Contribution:</strong>&nbsp;Churches and Christians in Nias are strengthened in their beliefs by praying and mentioning Lowalangi’s name, which imparts the same faith quality as the biblical use of God’s personal name. This adaptation can be a strategy for introducing the gospel in missiology and church planting in response to local culture as a wealth that cannot be negated. This research also has implications for the sociology of religion regarding the relationship between tradition and religious practice.</p> </div> </div> 2021-08-04T00:00:00+00:00 Copyright (c) Revealing gender discourses in the Qurʾān: An integrative, dynamic and complex approach 2021-08-12T19:02:39+00:00 Ghasem Darzi Abbas Ahmadvand Musa Nushi <div> <p>This study examines the Qurʾān’s view towards gender and argues that all three masculine, feminine and egalitarian (gender-inclusive) discourses exist in its text, and that these discourses do not follow a simple and linear model but rather a nonlinear and complex one. It also provides evidence, showing that gender equality in the Qurʾān is achieved in two ways: firstly, through linguistic devices that are devoid of gender distinctions, and secondly, through concurrent use of masculine and feminine gender markers in one context. The masculine discourse is, however, more prominent in the verses of this book and manifests itself to varying degrees in three ways: (1) in some verses, only masculine indicators are used but it can be inferred based on the (Taghlīb) principle that both men and women are the intended addressees; (2) in some verses, rules regarding women are stipulated, whilst men are, in fact, the main addressees and (3) in verses that state rules on reciprocal issues such as divorce and marriage but these rules are addressed to only men. The feminine discourse is also present in the Qurʾān and can be seen in verses that address women.</p> <p><strong>Contribution:</strong>&nbsp;Revealing gender discourses in the Qurʾān requires not only a historical but also an integrative and holistic understanding of its text. This study attempts to identify the relation of the Qurʾān to the three gender discourses based on the linguistic elements of the text and their classification.</p> </div> 2021-08-04T00:00:00+00:00 Copyright (c) Ibn Rushd’s response to Ibn Sina and Al-Ghazali’s philosophical thoughts on cosmology 2021-08-12T19:02:41+00:00 Taufiqurrahman Taufiqurrahman R. Yuli Akhmad Hambali <p>This study is based on the many cosmological problems in Islam as aspects of thought that receive serious attention. In fact, there are also many polemics of thought that occur amongst Muslim scholars, which can be divided into two main groups: traditionalists and rationalists. The traditionalists, represented by Al-Ghazali and the Ash’ariyah theologians, put forward their cosmological thinking on the principle of God’s absolute will, while the rationalists, especially those represented by Avicenna (Ibn Sina), proposed their cosmological thinking based on the theory of emanation from Plotinus in terms of its creation and the concept of a geocentric Ptolameus in terms of its structure. In this conflict of thought between the two groups, Averroes (Ibn Rushd) proposed a cosmological thought different from the two. This study seeks to elaborate on the thought of Ibn Rushd’s cosmology which is different from that of Ibn Sina and Al-Ghazali.</p> <p><strong>Contribution:</strong>&nbsp;This research provides a clear understanding of the cosmological thoughts put forward by earlier Muslim thinkers. In particular, it wants to bridge the differences regarding the concept of cosmology as put forward by Ibn Sina and Al-Ghazali and how Ibn Rushd bridges the two.</p> 2021-08-04T00:00:00+00:00 Copyright (c) The ‘coming-out’ of a hero: The character of Esther in LXX-Esther revisited 2021-08-12T18:13:21+00:00 Sanrie M. de Beer <div> <p>The account of the hero is often depicted as a narratological journey which, with reference to the ground-breaking work of Campbell (<a>2008</a>), is referred to as the monomyth. The basic outline of all monomyths is an account of how a hero embarks on a journey, meets a major crisis and then returns back home altered in some way. This change does not only benefit the hero but is also to the advantage of the community that he or she hails from. This study examines the possibility that the story of Esther fits the prerequisites of a monomyth and argues that the additions (Additions A, B, C, D, E and F) to LXX-Esther give emphasis to and reinforce the impression of the hero-myth underlying the story. The therapeutic and transforming qualities of the hero story, narrated in LXX-Esther, are examined in more detail. It is concluded that this hero story fulfils two basic human functions: an epistemic function and a restorative function.</p> <p><strong>Contribution:</strong>&nbsp;This article contributes to HTS Teologiese Studies/Theological Studies’s’ contested Historical Thought and Source Interpretation by focusing on textual and hermeneutical studies, and narratives behind the Abrahamic religion as expressed in the Hebrew Scriptures, Apocrypha, Pseudepigrapha and the Septuagint.</p> </div> 2021-08-12T00:00:00+00:00 Copyright (c) The religious phenomenon of Juche ideology as a political tool 2021-08-12T19:02:42+00:00 Fransiskus I. Widjaja Noh I. Boiliu Irfan F. Simanjuntak Joni M.P. Gultom Fredy Simanjuntak <div> <p>This study aims to determine the motive that led to the establishment of Juche by Kim Il Sung amidst the influence of communism and its transformation into religion in North Korea. North Korea is a communist country dictated by Kim Jong-Un of the Kim dynasty and known for its cruelty. The country underwent several changes from Marxism-Leninism to familism to determine its strength in Juche. This ideology that acts as a religion was influenced and strengthened Kim Jong Il to Kim Jong-Un and built by shifting the concept of marxism-Leninism to construct a new understanding of Juche. It will be demonstrated that this ideology was influenced by Confucianism, Christianity, Nationalism, Chinese Communism, and Russian Communism. In the modern era, imperialism was used as an ideological tool to restrict backwardness. This theory allegedly helped Kim Il-Sung establish a unitary, one-person rule over North Korea. ‘It will be examined whether Juche ideology is a tool the state has used to convince people of their government. Pronouncements, an intentional religion in which the people were to believe that their Ruler (Kim Il Sung) was a supreme human or an ideology that morphed into a religion’. It will be demonstrated that, when they started honoring Kim as their god, no other religion was permitted.</p> <p><strong>Contribution:</strong>&nbsp;This research offers readers an understanding of the value of humanity in the binding ideology of Juche. However, the Juche Ideology can serve as a missiological bridge towards mission goals, which require the experience of spiritual, physical, and social liberation.</p> </div> 2021-08-04T00:00:00+00:00 Copyright (c) Interpreting the David–Bathsheba narrative (2 Sm 11:2–4) as a response by the church in Nigeria to masculine abuse of power for sexual assault 2021-08-12T19:02:43+00:00 Solomon O. Ademiluka <p>Sexual violence against women is a social problem all over the world, including Nigeria. This article examines the David–Bathsheba narrative against this background, relating it to the problem of masculine abuse of power for sexual assault in Nigeria. It also attempts to find out how the church in Nigeria could use the narrative as a textual basis for responding to this problem. The article is targeted at Nigerians who abuse masculine power in this way, the women who need to be aware of sex predators and the church in employing the text as a response to sexual violence. The article employs the exegetical approach in the study of 2 Samuel 11:2–4, and the descriptive method in the analysis of masculine abuse of power for sexual assault in Nigeria, and how the church could combat it. The essay finds that David used his position as a king to assault Bathsheba, which makes the narrative relevant for the present-day Nigerian context of masculine abuse of power for sexual assault. The church in Nigeria could respond to the awareness of this relevance by making the narrative a textual basis for a response to the problem of sexual violence. The church could develop a policy on violence against women which must be reflected in all its teaching instruments. The church must create healing avenues for the victims of sexual abuse. It should liaise with government agencies to ensure that relevant laws against sexual abuse are applied adequately.</p> <p><strong>Contribution:</strong>&nbsp;The article is a contribution in Christian ethics. It likens David’s encounter with Bathsheba to masculine abuse of power for sexual assault in Nigeria. It explains how the church in Nigeria can employ the narrative as a response to this menace.</p> 2021-08-04T00:00:00+00:00 Copyright (c) The profile and manifestation of moral decay in South African urban community 2021-08-12T19:02:45+00:00 Motshine A. Sekhaulelo <p>South Africa in which we are living is characterised by unparalleled social and political change and apparently enormous differences of option. However, there is one aspect of our society that most of us would probably agree about and that is the decline of morality in our cities. Apart from the economic and political crisis, and the erosion of the core competence to actually get things done in the municipalities, South Africa is an ailing society with disturbing pathologies in terms of indiscipline, violence, rape, assault, fraud and a failure to accept personal accountability for the high levels of crime, corruption, xenophobic attacks, gender-based violence and disintegration of families. The main aim of this study is to outline the profile of moral decay in the South African urban community and to define the calling of the Church towards moral regeneration. The conclusion arrived at is that there are definite signs of moral degeneration over a wide sphere of human endeavour in South African urban community, and that the church has a particular role to play as a driving agent for moral renewal.</p> <p><strong>Contribution:</strong>&nbsp;Whilst there are many postive things brought by urbanisation in our cities, however, moral decay in our South African cities is one of the biggest threats to South Africa’s hard earned, freedom and democracy and merits closer attention. This study in ethics joins the voices of those people who are propagating moral regeneration in our times.</p> 2021-08-04T00:00:00+00:00 Copyright (c) The African Church’s application of anointing oil: An expression of Christian spirituality or a display of fetish ancestral religion? 2021-08-12T19:02:46+00:00 Joel K.T. Biwul <p>The content of Christian spirituality that made waves since the inception of the early church soon took on different contours as the faith got adapted to different gentile contexts. The expression of this faith, along with its liturgical symbolism and sacramental observances, is still gaining momentum in African Christianity. The emerging practice of the use of ‘anointing oil’ in its religious expression is receiving more attention than the Christ of the Gospel. In this article, we argue that against its primitive intent, the use of the ‘anointing oil’ by the African Church is a mere display of fetish ancestral religion that expresses its unique African traditional religious root rather than a true expression of Christian spirituality. Our thesis is framed on the basis that the manner in which some African churches apply the purported ‘anointing oil’ is discriminatory&nbsp;<em>vis-à-vis</em>&nbsp;its ancient understanding and purpose. In our attempt to address this damaging practice to true Christian spirituality, also standing as a huge challenge for pastoral theology, we undertook a careful historical–theological analysis of the extant biblical data and its contextual interpretation&nbsp;<em>vis-à-vis</em>&nbsp;its distortion today. We concluded that what pastoral theologians have to deal with within the Christian community in Africa is offering the right biblical perspective against the distorted mode of the application of the contemporary purported ‘anointing oil’ that is falsely projecting the Christian faith and belief in a bad light.</p> <p><strong>Contribution:</strong>&nbsp;The application of the anointing oil in contemporary Christian religion in Africa is, to say the least, not an inherent textually prescribed requisite criterion for Christian spirituality, but merely an outburst of fetish ancestral religious worldview that stands contra the hermeneutics of the biblical text and its ancient tradition. That no Old Testament prophet, not even Jesus nor Paul, mentioned the subject, makes its contemporary application textually and theologically suspect, and therefore, heretically infectious for the spiritual health of the community of faith. These insights sit quite well with the textual hermeneutics within the mainline transdisciplinary religious and multidisplinary theological perspective of this journal.</p> 2021-08-04T00:00:00+00:00 Copyright (c) A socio-historical study of the adoption imagery in Galatians 2021-08-12T19:02:47+00:00 Chih Wei Chang <p>This study investigated how Paul’s Jewish background, including some elements of pre-rabbinical Jewish literature, influenced the letter to the Galatians with regard to the concept of adoption (υἱοθεσία) (Gl 4:1–7). As Paul was writing to a Gentile audience, wanting to persuade them to return to the true gospel, metaphors of adoption, embedded in the understanding of the Graeco-Roman household, became effective communication bridges to reach his audience. Within this framework, Israel’s God was depicted as the caring father of the household, who through his son Jesus Christ redeems all human beings from the status of slaves to that of children with full rights of inheritance.</p> <p><strong>Contribution:</strong>&nbsp;God’s redemption is not merely a forensic sense of justification but also the imagery of relationship in the household by which God does not merely set one free from sin by securing us through Jesus Christ into the society of the righteous, but also adopts us into his family.</p> 2021-08-04T00:00:00+00:00 Copyright (c) The theology of non-violenct Islamic education based on Al-Sira Al-Nabawiyya 2021-08-12T19:02:48+00:00 Bambang Qomaruzzaman <p>Al-Sira Al-Nabawiyya is often used as a reference to violence in Islam, mainly because war narration is so dominantly displayed. The tendency of using Al-Sira Al-Nabawiyya as the basis of violence conception in Islam drives Islamic teaching practices to become violence-oriented. This article presents a re-reading of Al-Sira Al-Nabawiyya by Wakhiduddin Khan, Tariq Ramadan and Satha-Anand, with a mimetic anthropology framework. The reading on Al-Sira resulted in three conclusions. Firstly, there are many non-violence stories at all stages in the life of Prophet Muhammad, since the pre-prophetic era until his death. Secondly, the Prophet Muhammad was a teacher who based his activities on the principles of&nbsp;<em>tawhîd</em>, patience, love, forgiveness and appreciation for humanity. Thirdly, educational activities are Muhammad’s exemplary activities which are full of non-violent values. The findings of this article can be used as the basis for the reformulation of Al-Sira Al-Nabawiyya teaching materials in Islamic Education as well as the basis of teaching activities for Islamic teachers.</p> <p><strong>Contribution:</strong>&nbsp;This article contributes to a paradigm shift in teaching the History of the Prophet Muhammad in a peaceful Islamic education system. The peaceful paradigm in this article can also divert the tendency of Islamic extremism to become an Islam that provides peace and prosperity to the universe (<em>rahmatan lil ‘alamin</em>).</p> 2021-08-04T00:00:00+00:00 Copyright (c) Theology of health of Quranic pesantren in the time of COVID-19 2021-08-12T19:02:49+00:00 Ahmad Baidowi ahmad.salehudin@uin-suka. Ahmad Salehudin Abdul Mustaqim ahmad.salehudin@uin-suka. Saifuddin Z. Qudsy ahmad.salehudin@uin-suka. Nurul Hak ahmad.salehudin@uin-suka. <p>Applying the dormitory system for thousands of&nbsp;<em>santri</em>&nbsp;(student of Islamic boarding school in Indonesia), Quranic&nbsp;<em>pesantren</em>&nbsp;(Islamic boarding school) has been considered as one of the main culprits in the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). Such assumption is created solely from the applicable health protocols and protective measures to avoid COVID-19 transmission in&nbsp;<em>pesantren</em>. As a matter of fact,&nbsp;<em>pesantrens</em>&nbsp;are known to have applied a distinctive way of coping with COVID-19. This study aims to elucidate the theology of health of Quranic&nbsp;<em>pesantren</em>&nbsp;in the face of COVID-19. Research data were generated through observational method on three Quranic&nbsp;<em>pesantrens</em>&nbsp;in Yogyakarta, interviews with caregivers, the COVID-19 task force of the&nbsp;<em>pesantren, santri</em>&nbsp;and documentation related to the handling of COVID-19 in the three&nbsp;<em>pesantrens</em>. The results showed that the Quranic&nbsp;<em>pesantren</em>&nbsp;as a subculture has a distinctive way of dealing with COVID-19 pandemic by integrating modified health protocols in accordance with the actual conditions of the&nbsp;<em>pesantren</em>&nbsp;and by applying rituals of Islamic spirituality by reciting verses of the Qur’an,&nbsp;<em>salawat</em>&nbsp;(prayers for the Prophet), prayers and&nbsp;<em>hizib</em>&nbsp;(prayer for salvation and rejecting calamities). Three&nbsp;<em>pesantrens</em>&nbsp;chose these methods by drawing on the belief that COVID-19 is God’s creature and, thus, it only works on God’s orders and will stop if God wills. In line with this, this study suggests a method for handling COVID-19 by not only emphasising the health protocols and medical procedures but also taking into account the importance of local wisdom.</p> <p><strong>Contribution statement:</strong>&nbsp;This article contributes to the strategy of COVID-19 handling by combining the health protocols of COVID-19 and the applicable local wisdom, such as religious ritual as practiced by numerous&nbsp;<em>pesantren</em>&nbsp;in Indonesia.</p> 2021-08-04T00:00:00+00:00 Copyright (c) Tradition critical study of 1 Chronicles 21 2021-08-12T18:54:34+00:00 Ananda B. Geyser-Fouché Ebele C. Chukwuka ananda.geyser-fouche@up. <div> <p>The purpose of this article was to highlight the importance of tradition criticism as a significant aspect of the exegetical study of any Old Testament text. Different traditions existed in ancient Israel, and the Chronicler emphasised or underemphasised some of these in 1 Chronicles 21. The above-mentioned practices highlight the theology and ideology that the Chronicler wanted to promote. The Chronicler emphasised certain traditions and underemphasised others in such a way that both the theology and ideology of the Jerusalem Temple stood out. The Jerusalem Temple represented the Chronicler’s theology and his image of God – which was that Yahweh is only to be worshipped in the Jerusalem Temple, that he has chosen the site as the place for worship and that he is dwelling there. The findings of this research caution against reading and understanding a text outside its unique historical context. This is because the Old Testament does not have a central theme or one theology.</p> <p><strong>Contribution:</strong>&nbsp;This article contributes to the focus in HTS Teologiese Studies/Theological Studies with regard to the notion ‘historical thought’, covering textual and hermeneutical studies as expressed in the Hebrew Scriptures. The hermeneutical method of tradition criticism is applied in this article, forming part of the scope of this journal to embrace critical textual readings.</p> </div> 2021-08-12T00:00:00+00:00 Copyright (c) The 50-year jubileum of the Society for the Promotion of Eriugenian Studies in the John Scottus Eriugena (815–877) research, 1970–2020 2021-08-12T19:02:51+00:00 Johann Beukes <div> <p>This article charters the history and work of the Society for the Promotion of Eriugenian Studies (SPES), which celebrated its 50-year jubileum in 2020. After a brief introduction to the thought of John Scottus Eriugena (815–877), with emphasis on his primary text (in five volumes), Periphyseon, written between 864 and 866 and condemned as heretical in 1050, 1059, 1210 and finally in 1225, the development of SPES over the past five decades is surveyed in detail and connected to an outstanding work published in the Brill’s Companions to the Christian Tradition series in Leiden (2020), under the editorship of Adrian Guiu (A Companion to John Scottus Eriugena). The article is descriptive and analytical in its presentation of the relevant history of ideas and synthetical in its attempt to coherently integrate the most recent secondary texts on the relevant philosophical themes in Eriugena research.</p> <p><strong>Contribution:</strong>&nbsp;The article contributes to the Society for the Promotion of Eriugenian Studies’ 50-year jubileum by summarising its conference outputs over the past five decades in an extensive overview as well as connecting its work to A Companion to John Scottus Eriugena (Brill, Leiden, 2020), thereby furthering the society’s efforts and specialist research outputs to a broader, non-specialised readership.</p> </div> 2021-08-05T00:00:00+00:00 Copyright (c) The paradox of the reopening of schools under the lockdown – An exposure of the continued inequalities within the South African educational sector: A theological decolonial view 2021-08-12T19:02:52+00:00 Magezi E. Baloyi <p>The arrival of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in South Africa was responded to by a lockdown, which barred people from moving out of their homes unless for serious and stipulated reasons by government. Amongst other things, one of the most remarkable repercussions of the lockdown was the closing of the educational system. The call to reopen the public schools by the Minister of Basic Education after almost 2 months brought contestations from different sects of life, for instance, labour unions, parents and School Governing Body (SGB) representatives. Mistrust and suspicions developed amongst parents, SGB’s unions and the Department of Basic Education as a result. This has seen certain political parties and unions lodging court cases against the reopening decision. This was likely to be a protracted battle as the issue is between life and education. The aim of this research is to discover if these contestations are for the good of the school children or if there is another underlying issue.</p> <p><strong>Contribution:</strong>&nbsp;This article unveils the different contestations which are important for the South Africans regarding the shaping of the future through educational weapon. The contestations help open our eyes and make awareness as to where our democracy has done well and where it is still lacking.</p> 2021-08-05T00:00:00+00:00 Copyright (c) The impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on religious practices of churches in Nigeria 2021-08-12T19:02:53+00:00 Onyekachi G. Chukwuma <h4>Abstract</h4> <div> <p>Prior to the outbreak of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, the churches in Nigeria contended with Bokoharam insurgency which mainly affected the churches in Northern Nigeria. However, COVID-19 affected various churches in all the nooks and crannies of the country. It brought about obvious changes in numerous practices of churches in Nigeria. Long-standing traditions of churches such as solemnisation of Holy Matrimony, Holy Communion, baptism, prayer and sharing of peace (This practice is commonly observed by the orthodox churches and entails shaking one another’s hands in the course of a communion service) have been modified or suspended. Whilst this article appreciates the efforts of the federal and state governments, it investigates the implications of COVID-19 outbreak on traditional religious practices of churches in Nigeria. It also examines the responses of churches towards controlling the pandemic. The phenomenological method is used to analyse the data collected from both primary (semi-structured interview) and secondary sources (journals and internet materials). Findings from this work indicate that COVID-19 outbreak is a challenge to the purpose of the institution ‘church’.</p> <p><strong>Contribution:</strong>&nbsp;The article investigated and examined the changes which churches made in their doctrine and liturgy with respect to the outbreak of COVID-19 in Nigeria. It discovered that many traditions of the church have been modified or suspended as a way of curtailing the spread of the virus.</p> </div> 2021-08-05T00:00:00+00:00 Copyright (c) Islamic sharia reform of Ahmadiyah sect in Indonesia 2021-08-12T19:02:56+00:00 Moh Dahlan <div> <p>Problems with the decline of Muslims have made the Ahmadiyah sect aware of the need to reform Islamic sharia. The purpose of the study was to reveal the problem of Islamic sharia reform in the Ahmadiyah sect. This study used scientific theory of Jurgen Habermas and content analysis techniques. This study indicated that the Ahmadiyah sect has difficulty in reforming Islamic sharia because it sought to develop Islamic religious sciences that can be embraced and used by majority of Muslims in Indonesia, but used the textual&nbsp;<em>ijtihād</em>&nbsp;paradigm. Even though, in the paradigm of social life (<em>ḥifẓ al-nafs</em>), the Ahmadiyah sect has succeeded in eliminating Muslims from setbacks and backwardness and building a life of peace and harmony in the social life diversity in Indonesia, but in the paradigm of religious life (<em>ḥifẓ al-dīn</em>), the Ahmadiyah sect was still a matter of contention in the Islamic world and Indonesia.</p> <p><strong>Contribution:</strong>&nbsp;This study proposed that the Islamic sharia reform of the Ahmadiyah sect should be based on the critical&nbsp;<em>ijtihād</em>&nbsp;paradigm that attempted to explain and view the Islamic sharia norms in a discursive manner and could be accepted by all those who want to use them whilst also depending on the principles of Islamic sharia.</p> </div> 2021-08-05T00:00:00+00:00 Copyright (c) Die ‘vyf trane’ as mistieke uitdrukking in die Dialoë van die Dominikaanse non Katharina van Siëna (1347–1380) 2021-08-12T19:02:57+00:00 Johann Beukes <p><strong>The ‘five tears’ as mystical expression in the Dialogues of the Dominican nun Catherine of Siena (1347–1380).</strong>&nbsp;This article explores the underestimated teaching of the ‘five tears’ as mystical expression in the text&nbsp;<em>Il dialogo</em>&nbsp;(<em>The dialogues</em>, written in 1378) by the Dominican (<em>Mantellate</em>) nun and philosopher-theologian, Catherine of Siena (Caterina Benincasa, 1347–1380). The objective of the article is to indicate the significance of the teaching of the ‘five tears’, against the backdrop of the wider symbolic function of tears and ‘holy grief’ in Late Medieval mysticism. After presenting a biographical introduction, the contemplative, communicative and secretive import of the meaning of tears in the Middle Ages are reappraised and applied to&nbsp;<em>The dialogues</em>. By synthesising the scarce references in the relevant secondary literature, the teaching of the five tears are henceforth discussed: the tears of damnation, which are the tears of ‘evil and sinful people’; the tears of fear, which are the tears of fallen humankind in the presence of God’s judgement; the tears of gratitude, cried by a ‘saved humanity’ who now ‘see and taste God’s goodness’ (implicitly referring to the eucharist); the perfect tears, cried by people in their selfless disposition toward and love for the human Other; and the sweet tears of tenderness, cried by those who love God and humankind, in a radicalisation of Jesus of Nazareth’s summary of the Law, ‘more than thyself’. Catherine’s teaching of the ‘five tears’ certainly presents unique features and its own considerations, but should, nevertheless, be interpreted as an extension of the contemplative and secretive functions of ‘holy grief’ as already presented in Scripture and reconsidered by the Eastern and Western church fathers in the second to the fifth centuries. Catherine’s contribution to Medieval mysticism is established therein that she expanded those initial contents by presenting the teaching of the five tears as a ritualised prerequisite for development in the Medieval pilgrim’s spiritual itinerary to God.</p> <p><strong>Contribution:</strong>&nbsp;This article contributes to scholarship in Medieval philosophy by contextualising Catherine of Siena’s teaching of the ‘five tears’ within the wider symbolic realm of tears and ‘holy grief’ in late Medieval mysticism, stressing the contemplative, communicative and secretive import of tears throughout the Middle Ages.</p> 2021-08-05T00:00:00+00:00 Copyright (c) The process of mourning for Eswatini widowers: A pastoral concern 2021-08-12T19:02:58+00:00 Dalcy Dlamini Maake J. Masango <div> <p>Eswatini custom and church traditions indirectly and directly affect the way widowers handle their mourning period, after the demise of their better halves. Instead of mourning their loss of spouses for their spiritual, emotional, social and financial healing, widowers rush to remarry. This has resulted in dysfunctional marriages, ill health, financial crisis and sometimes death. This article has analysed the impact of the Eswatini custom and church traditions on widowers as emanating from the ‘throne’. The aim of this article therefore is to unpack some of the struggles faced by widowers, which often impacts them on their journey of life as they seek to relive life with another wife. It is in this regard that Nick Pollard’s method of positive deconstruction was used to enter the space of the widowers. Charles Gerkin’s shepherding model was incorporated in order to be able to journey with the troubled souls. The process will in turn heal them as they will be taught about the importance of mourning before remarrying.</p> <p><strong>Contribution:</strong>&nbsp;Widowers in Eswatini are the most vulnerable yet neglected in the kingdom of Eswatini. Patriarchy plays a major role, and in this case, it is men versus men power. Eswatini’s cultural practices and church practices have a major impact on widowers and may even shorten their lifespan.</p> </div> 2021-08-05T00:00:00+00:00 Copyright (c) In the state administration system of Indonesia: No space for <i>Khilafah</i>! 2021-08-12T19:03:00+00:00 Priyo Handoko Anis Farida <p>This study aims at reducing, and even eliminating, the thoughts of small Muslim groups in Indonesia, which state that the replacement of Pancasila as a&nbsp;<em>Khilafah</em>&nbsp;will raise the Indonesian state to become a developed country. This study uses a normative legal research methodology with two approaches: a historical and a conceptual approach. The historical approach was used to review the history of the implementation of the&nbsp;<em>Khilafah</em>&nbsp;system in Islam and the early history of the emergence of Pancasila as a national government system. Meanwhile, the conceptual approach was used as a road map to examine the&nbsp;<em>Khilafah</em>&nbsp;and Pancasila concepts in the constitutional system. The results of this study revealed that Pancasila represents the Indonesian nation’s ideology, which is in tune with Islamic law, and can answer all the needs of its people. Through Pancasila, the Indonesian people can live in harmony amidst existing pluralism. Therefore, there is no space for ideology other than Pancasila to fill and become the foundation of the Indonesian nation.</p> <p><strong>Contribution:</strong>&nbsp;This article attempts to answer Muslim people’s doubts with extremist ideology who want to change Pancasila into&nbsp;<em>Khilafah</em>. No movement seeks to change the Pancasila government system with other government systems.</p> 2021-08-05T00:00:00+00:00 Copyright (c) Christian theological understanding of the handling of infertility and its relevance in the Indonesian context 2021-08-12T19:03:01+00:00 Yohanes K. Susanta <div> <p>Infertility is one of the key themes in the Old Testament narrative. This infertility was experienced by the Israelite matriarchs Sarai, Rebekah and Rachel as well as several other women. This article argues that the concept infertility has given rise to injustice and discrimination, especially against women. For this reason, a constructive and a contextual dialogue between the biblical context and the context of the present is required to offer a new understanding and a liberating spirit to women and men. It is crucial because there is a traditional assumption that infertility is a disgrace and misfortune for a family. The inability to have children can create problems in the home, such as divorce or polygamy for the sake of having children. Infertility constitutes a severe problem for couples in a culture that emphasises the importance of producing descendants.</p> <p><strong>Contribution:</strong>&nbsp;This article offers a theological contribution from the Old Testament as a critique of the culture in terms of how infertile women are treated, that is, infertility as God’s grace. Also, this article offers a Christian theological understanding of the handling of infertility in an Indonesian context. It aims to redefine infertility and bring each couple to the realisation that the plight of infertility or having no children should no longer be seen as a burden for a couple but rather as part of God’s grace for their lives.</p> </div> 2021-08-05T00:00:00+00:00 Copyright (c) The pastor as spiritual mediator between God and the congregation: Corruptions of the relationships of the ‘under-shepherd’, the ‘flock’ and the ‘chief shepherd’ in a Zambian context and their implications for spiritual maturity 2021-08-12T19:03:02+00:00 Misheck Nyirenda <p>This article examined an ecclesiology that has led to the administrative and spiritual subjugation of members of local assemblies as God’s will and modus operandi under the New Covenant. The article will help adherents to re-examine the conclusions of the ecclesiology through a careful exegesis of the texts used in support. This article aimed at highlighting to Christians the potential dangers of this ecclesiology. It provided an analysis that can be consulted by any Christian who has been affected by this ecclesiology. This article examined a specific articulation of the teachings supporting a new ecclesiology and its bases in a local assembly in Lusaka, Zambia, during a ‘re-envisioning’ process. The author participated in this process, purchased the videos, transcribed the teachings and used them as his primary research data. The research was based on transcriptions of a series of teachings that were recorded in video format. The author explored key themes in the teachings, identified the texts used in support, examined those texts by critically using the historical-critical method and drew conclusions. A careful examination of the ecclesiology and the texts used as its proof-texts showed that it was based on flawed exegesis of the texts. The ecclesiology extracted from the transcripts was based on grounds other than careful interpretation of the texts used. The outcomes of this study were that proponents of this ecclesiology must find biblical texts that support it, or consider it to be wrongly derived doctrine.</p> <p><strong>Contribution:</strong>&nbsp;The primary contribution of this article is re-examination of a specific teaching that is purportedly derived from the Bible, through a critical analysis of the texts used in its support. The article fits with the scope of the journal to be a critical forum for theological reflection and praxis.</p> 2021-08-05T00:00:00+00:00 Copyright (c) Biblical pragmatism in the pandemic outbreak of Numbers 25:1–18: Towards an African paradigm 2021-08-12T19:03:03+00:00 Sampson S. Ndoga <div> <p>Numbers 25 presents a human crisis requiring swift leadership interventions to curb the plague. Leadership failure plays out on a number of levels before decisive and resolute interventions are taken. This passage shows a human-created crisis that somewhat parallels the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak and offers reflective pragmatic approaches taken to ensure immediate arresting of the pandemic and perhaps future curbing of a similar instigation.</p> <p><strong>Contribution:</strong>&nbsp;Africa has always been known to respond rather belatedly to crises that cost human lives and also for waiting for solutions to come from elsewhere. How do we change that paradigm going forward and what does it mean for the analysis of biblical texts? African hermeneutical readings that take contextual issues rather seriously are utilised in this study.</p> </div> 2021-08-05T00:00:00+00:00 Copyright (c) The legacy of Sir Reginald Stephen Garfield Todd in Zimbabwean public life history 2021-08-12T19:03:04+00:00 Gift Masengwe Bekithemba Dube <p>This article investigates the contribution of white liberal politics of an ex-missionary New Zealander, Sir Reginald Stephen Garfield Todd (from 1953 to 1958), on the development of Southern Rhodesia towards becoming an independent state. It outlines the contribution he made towards the progress of black Zimbabweans in a number of spheres. It arouses interest in contemporary Zimbabwean religious and political discourses. Todd held a hybridity of roles in transitional politics from the blunting settler racism to the sharpening of African capability on multi-racial democracy important for our debate on the decolonisation of southern Africa. He was a rhetorically gifted radical paternalist who adopted reformist policies to advance both the African cause and his prophetic vocation. He suggested technocratic solutions that could reorganise and diversify political and economic options.</p> <p><strong>Contribution:</strong>&nbsp;This study uses critical discourse analysis (CDA) on the wider literature on Todd’s biography and African policies in view of his Christian vocation towards changing conditions of socio-economic, political-religious and technological-technocratic solutions to contemporary African independence. He was a man of his times living and working in an increasingly problematic context guided by the Christian principles in which he was reared. He is the ‘father of faith’ in the Church of Christ in Zimbabwe (COCZ), and leaves us pedagogical lessons on human security, gender equality, church governance and human well-being that require review within the contemporary Christian fraternity.</p> 2021-08-05T00:00:00+00:00 Copyright (c) Doctrine as security? A systematic theological critique of the operational theological framework of the controversial South African neo-Pentecostal prophets 2021-08-12T19:03:05+00:00 Collium Banda <div> <p>This research article uses the theoretical framework of doctrine as believer’s security to critique the theological framework behind the controversial activities reported amongst some South African neo-Pentecostal prophets (NPPs), which include feeding congregants with grass, spraying them with insecticides and sexual violation of women congregants. The framework of the article falls within the discipline of systematic theology by raising the importance for South African Christians to develop a critical doctrinal framework for protecting themselves from controversial NPPs. The following main question is answered by the article: from a systematic theological perspective, how can we evaluate the theological framework, which leads to the recent controversial activities reported amongst some NPPs in South Africa? Consequently, the article, firstly, describes the critical theological framework of the protective role of Christian doctrine. Secondly, it describes the South African NPPs and their controversial practices. Thirdly, this article analyses some of the theological problems in the current operative framework of NPPs. Fourthly, it argues for the need for doctrinally informed critical thinking as a safety measure against controversial NPPs. Finally, some steps that must be taken by NPPs to develop critical theological thinking in order to overcome doctrinally vacuous experientialism that promotes controversial religious activities are provided.</p> <p><strong>Contribution:</strong>&nbsp;From a systematic theological approach, this article attempts to demonstrate the importance of critical doctrinal thinking as a defence mechanism for protecting Christians from falling prey to harmful religious practices, such as those recently reported amongst some NPPs in South Africa.</p> </div> 2021-08-05T00:00:00+00:00 Copyright (c) Attributes of God in Ephesians: Meaning and relevance 2021-08-12T19:03:07+00:00 Elma M. Cornelius <p>Who is God according to the author of the letter to the Ephesians? What does this letter communicate about the character of God? Which attributes of God are specifically in focus in Ephesians? The focus of this article is the meaning and relevance of these characterisations of God in the letter structure, in the argumentation, in the rhetoric of the author and in the socio-historical context of the author and readers. The method of interpretation includes word studies, the epistolographic structure, the argumentation, the socio-historical background and the persuasion strategies used in the letter. The author identifies and categorises all attributes of God in Ephesians within the structure of the letter and argumentation and shows how these contribute to the purpose of the letter. The author of Ephesians presents God as being in total control of the universe, willing to be mankind’s Father and to equip them with wisdom and strength and gifts and blessings and he exhorts them to trust this God and imitate Him in their behaviour.</p> <p><strong>Contribution:</strong>&nbsp;Although the attributes of God have been discussed by various scholars, this article is an attempt to not only identify the attributes of God in the letter to the Ephesians, but also to discuss the meaning and relevance of these in this letter.</p> 2021-08-05T00:00:00+00:00 Copyright (c) Religious symbol on determining the beginning and end of Ramadan in Indonesia 2021-08-12T19:03:08+00:00 Ridwan Ridwan Muhammad Fuad Zain <p>The fasting and Eid al-Fitr celebration has a strong public dimension for their traditional characteristics in Islamic communal celebrations. This study used field research from interviews with the two largest mass organisations in Indonesia, Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) and Muhammadiyah, and the statements of mass media. This research shows that contestation of religious symbols is not something that needs to be debated but it should broaden the understanding of the differences that must be respected in order to build brotherhood not, division. Contestation of religious symbols between the&nbsp;<em>hisab</em>&nbsp;[astronomical calculations] and the&nbsp;<em>ru’yat</em>[sighting a new crescent moon] is a competition between religious organisations, to strengthen their position, social legitimacy and religious authority in the public sphere. The government has to take the initiative to compromise the policy between the two Islamic organisations to reach a methodological agreement in order to minimise social tensions.</p> <p><strong>Contribution:</strong>&nbsp;This article proposed that understanding the&nbsp;<em>ru’yat</em>&nbsp;and&nbsp;<em>hisab</em>&nbsp;as a symbol of contestation becomes an attribute of religious organisations and part of organisational behaviour and culture.</p> 2021-08-05T00:00:00+00:00 Copyright (c) From the emergent property of consciousness to the emergence of the immaterial soul or mind’s substance 2021-08-12T19:03:09+00:00 Ahmad Ebadi Mohammadmahdi Amoosoltani <div> <p>According to property-emergentism, consciousness is an emergent property of certain aggregate neurological constructions, whereas substance-emergentism maintains that the emergence of consciousness depends on the emergence of mental substance or soul. In this article, we presented some arguments supporting substance-emergentism by analysing various properties of consciousness, including the first-person perspective, referral state, qualia, being active, causative, non-atomic, interpretative, inferential and inventive (emanative and innovative). We also explored the impossibility of representing big images on the small monitor and the incapacity of physical entities being conscious because of their intrinsic multiplicity, absence and deficiency. These arguments, which apply the philosophy of Mulla Sadra, could be considered by philosophers of mind and religion, as well as theologians who follow some religious beliefs such as the afterlife on existence and survival of the soul. Also, we attempted to respond to property-emergentists’ objections to substance-emergentism.</p> <p><strong>Contribution:</strong>&nbsp;This research contributes to prove and accept the emergence of the immaterial soul after the stages of natural evolution of the body. It uses the basics of emergentism, including natural evolution, to link science and religion in believing the existence of the immaterial soul. Demonstrating the immaterial reality of human existence provides the ground for theological issues such as afterlife and religious morality.</p> </div> 2021-08-05T00:00:00+00:00 Copyright (c) ‘Humanhood’ in the Gospel of John 2021-08-12T19:03:10+00:00 Johnson Thomaskutty <p>This article is an attempt to explore the theme of ‘humanhood’ in the Fourth Gospel. The most important questions to be posed at the outset are the following: who is the model human presented in the gospel as per the Johannine community standards? How can a person acquire humanhood status according to the Johannine community? The divine and human interaction in the life and ministry of Jesus dynamically introduces the life ethics and mission aspects of the Johannine community. According to the Johannine community standards, people can achieve ‘humanhood’ status exclusively in relation to Jesus. As the community of John emphasises humanhood in relation to Jesus, a person can overcome all sorts of human-made boundaries, including the sexual, racial and class-oriented boundaries through the mediation of Jesus. This further means that the all-inclusive mission of Jesus foregrounds a new criterion for ‘humanhood’ in the Johannine community context. The article concludes by stating that the Johannine understanding of humanhood can be considered as a paradigm in the contemporary global scenario.</p> <p><strong>Contribution:</strong>&nbsp;This article contributes to the reader a wider hermeneutical framework and a new way forward in interpreting the gospel according to John by taking into consideration the humanhood aspects. As a theological and contextual interpretation of the Fourth Gospel, the article fits well within the scope of&nbsp;<em>HTS Teologiese Studies/Theological Studies</em>.</p> 2021-08-05T00:00:00+00:00 Copyright (c) Islam Rimba: Islamic philosophy and local culture engagement in Sumatera 2021-08-12T19:03:10+00:00 Waryono Waryono M. Nurdin Zuhdi M. Anwar Nawawi Elmansyah Elmansyah <p>This research aims to reveal the historical roots and elements of the background for the formation of the Orang Rimba’s religion. This study is based on field research with a descriptive approach of religious phenomenon. The research derives some conclusions: (1) the Orang Rimba is monotheist, that is, they are not adherents to dynamism, polytheism, or animism as it has been understood. (2) The history of the Orang Rimba’s religion is affected by two elements; namely, Rimba culture and Islamic culture. (3) Evidence suggests that Islam is one element of Orang Rimba’s religion as the following: (a) Mantra of Getting Honey, such as&nbsp;<em>Basmallah, Allah, Istighfar, Muhammad</em>&nbsp;and&nbsp;<em>Ya Karim</em>; (b) Orang Rimba Faith in God, the Prophet Muhammad, the Angel and Doomsday; (c) the values of the ceremony of Death: Ratib Laa Ilaha Illallah; and (d) the values of the ceremony&nbsp;<em>Berdekir</em>. (4) It has proved the existence of a new theory about the spread of Islam in the Suku Anak Dalam community since the 14th century and at the same time undermined the old theory of the Orang Rimba’s religion that has been misunderstood over the years.</p> <p><strong>Contribution:</strong>&nbsp;Researchers can use this new theory’s findings as reference material on the Orang Rimba’s religion (Suku Anak Dalam). They can also use this theory to compare other views about the Orang Rimba’s religion.</p> 2021-08-05T00:00:00+00:00 Copyright (c) How coloniality generated religious illiteracy in Africa, and how to compensate the situation: Perspectives on Lesotho 2021-08-12T19:03:11+00:00 Rasebate I. Mokotso <p>This article debated how coloniality created religious illiteracy in Lesotho. Three parameters were suggested in this regard. Firstly, it is assumed that the prevalence of religious illiteracy started during missionary involvement in Lesotho. Secondly, it is argued that three strategies were applied in this exertion: (1) the missionaries categorised Basotho as being without religion and, therefore, are liable for conversion into religion, which is Christianity. This predisposition ended up in the creation of religion synonymic to Christianity whilst all others disqualified, (2) Basotho were enticed into the binary of religious secularism and privatisation disassociated from spiritualism whilst connected to materialism and private affairs and (3) Basotho were indoctrinated into accepting the existence of one universal religion which is Christianity through Western formal education. Thirdly and finally, decoloniality turn is recommended to curtail illiteracy in religion through the ontology of pluriversality, the hegemony of diversality and the epistemology of pluriversality.</p> <p><strong>Contribution:</strong>&nbsp;The article identified the pervasiveness of religious illiteracy in Africa with special reference to Lesotho. It highlighted its repercussions if left unchecked. Consequently, it examined and put forward the possible causes. As a result of the discoveries, the article suggested procedures to counter the causes in order to promote literacy in religion.</p> 2021-08-05T00:00:00+00:00 Copyright (c) Javanese cosmology: Symbolic transformation of names in Javanese novels 2021-08-12T18:23:41+00:00 Onok Y. Pamungkas Sahid T. Widodo Suyitno Suyitno Suwardi Endraswara <p>In the past, no research has been found on onomastics from a mystical perspective in literature. This study investigated onomastics in the tetralogy of novels by Ki Padmasusastra (after this referred to as TNKP). The main point of view is the meaning of Javanese cosmology. Qualitative methods are used as research guidelines. The primary data are four Javanese novels. Hermeneutic techniques and content analysis are applied to analytical strategies. The results showed that the onomastics in TNKP are symbols of Javanese cosmology. This element of Javanese cosmology has transformed onomastics through three things: the novel title, figure’s name and location name. The symbolisation of the onomastic is implicit because it is wrapped in the aesthetics of the literary language. The name structure of each onomastic subsection has no clear meaning because the name element is intended for the sense of ‘the other’. Names have an explicit function, namely as hypertextual fragments of symbols that transcend the narrative text structure. An important implication of this investigation is that onomastics can promote the transdisciplinary aspects of religion in international theology in the study of narrative texts. The cosmological transformation of Java can be reflected in various parts of culture, including in novels. TNKP is a cross-disciplinary meeting: fiction, linguistics, mystical, social, cultural and philosophical, contributing to further theological studies.</p> <p><strong>Contribution:</strong>&nbsp;This article contributes to the purpose of&nbsp;<em>HTS Teologiese Studies/Theological Studies</em>&nbsp;to promote the transdisciplinary aspects of religious studies in the international theological arena of hermeneutic and philosophical studies behind the narrative text.</p> 2021-08-12T00:00:00+00:00 Copyright (c) ‘I loved to be included’ (Proverbs 1:8–19): The Church and Tiv Christian Youth Development 2021-08-12T18:30:08+00:00 Favour C. Uroko Solomon Enobong <div> <p>This article examined the warning against evil companions in Proverbs 1:8–19 and the role of the church in addressing the involvement of Tiv youths in crime in Benue State and its implications for actions. Wicked people were zealous in seducing others into the paths of destruction. Would young people shun temporal and eternal ruin? This was the reason for Solomon’s instruction in Proverbs 1:8–19. He admonished his son with the caption ‘hear,’ which presented the son with a choice. However, Solomon implored the child to refuse to take any step in destructive paths of evildoers. The persuasive nature of the pericope was important in addressing the growing crime rate amongst Tiv youths in Benue State. Most youths in Tiv communities were being enticed into joining criminal gangs, secret cults and rituals in order to make quick wealth. Unfortunately, the number of youths in these immoral acts such as YahooYahoo amongst Tiv youths kept on increasing in the midst of the growing number of churches in most Tiv societies. Rhetoric analysis was used as the methodology. As part of recommendations, parents should instruct, discipline and stop their children from engaging in acts that lead to death. The youths should also avoid evil companions to avoid falling into trouble.</p> <p><strong>Contribution:</strong>&nbsp;Youths are the leaders of tomorrow, which makes admonition to youths a necessity for the growth of the Tiv Society. Proverbs 1:8–19 provides roadmaps that Tiv leaders and the church could adopt in preserving morality among Tiv youths.</p> </div> 2021-08-12T00:00:00+00:00 Copyright (c) The Amoraic controversy, halakha and authority in Bavli Eruvin 104a 2021-08-12T18:34:58+00:00 Uri Zur <p>The Talmud Bavli presents in Tractate Eruvin (104a) a controversy between two Amoraim, Ulla and Rabbah. This controversy on the topic of producing a sound on the Sabbath is the context of the present study. According to Ulla, any production of sound on the Sabbath is forbidden, and according to Rabbah, producing a musical sound is prohibited on the Sabbath but producing a sound that is not musical is permitted. The purpose of the study is to present the two approaches to solving the controversy, where the dilemma is which of them should the halakha follow. The setting of the study is a comparative analysis of two different halakhic approaches. Accordingly, this controversy created two different fundamental halakhic approaches that have implications for the authority of the Talmud Bavli compared to the Talmud Yerushalmi, that is, which of these Talmuds has more authority than the other. The research methods of this article portray the various outlooks of the poskim and commentators, from amongst the first representatives to relate to this problem, where the results show that a relative majority of the commentators follow the approach of the Rif. The article’s conclusion is that the authority of the Talmud Bavli is greater than that of the Talmud Yerushalmi.</p> <p><strong>Contribution:</strong>&nbsp;The contribution of the article is in showing the fundamental arguments that the poskim and commentators raised to solve this dilemma, which serve as a basic foundation for all the poskim and commentators who followed them and who advocated either the one approach or the other. Furthermore, the article also contributes by providing a source interpretation of the Hebrew and Aramaic text and rabbinic literature, which fits the scope of the journal.</p> 2021-08-12T00:00:00+00:00 Copyright (c) From timely exegesis to contemporary ecclesiology: Relevant hermeneutics and provocative embodiment of faith in a corona-defined world – Generosity during a pandemic 2021-08-12T19:03:12+00:00 Scot McKnight <div> <p>In a world where economies have no moral conscience, biblical theologians can challenge local cultures with ancient wisdom about generosity and equity. Systemic solutions require changes in the habits of virtue, and this study focuses on the habit of generosity. Building on the work of Stephan Joubert’s&nbsp;<em>Paul as Benefactor</em>, this study concentrates on Paul’s collection in one notable instance: what he says about generosity in 2 Corinthians 8-9 and, in particular, what he means by&nbsp;<em>isotēs</em>&nbsp;in 2 Cor 8:13–15. Does it mean “equality” or “equity”? Beginning with a reinvigorated interest in the economic vision of the apostle Paul about what is meant by “weak” and “good works” and what the Pastoral Epistles communicate with&nbsp;<em>eusebeia</em>&nbsp;(not “godliness” but “social respectability and civility”), we reconsider the collection as an act on the part of the Pauline mission churches to express more than ecclesial unity. This act embodied a theology of grace in mutual reciprocity and in equitable provision on the part of the wealthy for the poor, not least and not limited to those in their own Christian assemblies. The term&nbsp;<em>isotēs</em>&nbsp;is too easily glossed over when translated as “fair balance”, “fairness”, and so the translation of the term with “equity” or “equality” comes closest to the vision of the apostle. Too few studies on this term baptize it sufficiently in the economics of the ancient world and the early Christian radical vision of siblingship and family.</p> <p><strong>Contribution:</strong>&nbsp;From the perspective of the Historical Thought and Source Interpretation of the work of Paul, the question of systemic equality or equity is as crucial to navigating the current economic climate as it has ever been. Equality or equity is not limited to Christian communities but following the early church in embodying a theology of grace.</p> </div> 2021-08-05T00:00:00+00:00 Copyright (c) Engaging Old Testament prophetic literature in traumatic times of loss and grief 2021-08-12T19:03:13+00:00 Wilhelm J. Wessels <div> <p>This article addresses not only the matter of loss and grief but also hope and recovery. The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has hugely affected not only South Africans but also people globally. One of the key features of this pandemic is loss and the associated grief. To explore these topics, the author has engaged prophetic literature, more specifically the books of Isaiah and Jeremiah, which present compelling cases of loss and grief. An attempt was made to identify similarities between the experiences of the people of Judah and our current experiences of loss and grief because of the pandemic. Whilst the reality of loss and grief is validated, the positive role of prophetic words of comfort and hope is also valued.</p> <p><strong>Contribution:</strong>&nbsp;This article offers original research in the field of biblical studies, more specifically, in the field of the Old Testament. This is in line with the scope of the article aims at relating texts from the prophetic literature to a current challenging situation of grief and loss because of the COVID-19 pandemic.</p> </div> 2021-08-05T00:00:00+00:00 Copyright (c) What are the consequences of sola scriptura for a Reformed polity? With reference to the Dutch Reformed Church Order of 1962 2021-08-12T19:03:14+00:00 Pieter J. Strauss <p>In the 16th century, after the so-called Dark Middle Ages, the Reformation in the church in Western Europe aimed at reforming the church with consequences for society. Regarding the church itself, the Reformation aimed at bringing the total service of the church under the Word of God as its norma normans or norm of the norms. This is also true for the governing of the church and church polity.</p> <p>In the tradition of church polity and order that followed the thought of reformers, such as Bucer and Calvin, in the history of, specifically, the Dutch Reformed Church (DRC), scholars and churches came to the conclusion that the principle of&nbsp;<em>sola scriptura</em>&nbsp;means that Scripture provides the principles or norms for a church polity.</p> <p>This does not mean that every article in a church order should indicate the text of the Bible on which it is based. Rather, a church order should – at least – be based on principles derived from the Scripture or norms from outside the Scripture in harmony with the Bible.</p> <p><strong>Contribution:</strong>&nbsp;The governing of the church cannot be isolated from society or, for example, from the generally accepted norms for natural justice. The Church order of the DRC of 1962 is an example of a reformed church order.</p> 2021-08-05T00:00:00+00:00 Copyright (c) Making sense of the COVID-19 pandemic from the Bible – Some perspectives 2021-08-12T19:03:15+00:00 Francois Tolmie Rian Venter <p>In this article, a brief survey of some of the ways in which biblical scholars try to make sense of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic is offered. The views of the following scholars are discussed: Walter Brueggemann, Ying Zhang, John Goldingay and Kathleen Scott Goldingay, N.T. Wright, Philemon M. Chamburuka and Ishanesu S. Gusha, and Peter Lampe. This is followed by the reflections of a biblical scholar and a systematic theologian. From the perspective of a biblical scholar, the following issues are raised: the richness of biblical traditions, the influence of social location on the interpretation of the pandemic in the light of the Bible, the importance of the emphasis on lament, the reluctance to interpret the pandemic as a punishment from God, the importance of the interpreter’s view of God and the emphasis on the way in which the ‘new normal’ should be approached. From the perspective of a systematic theologian the following issues are discussed: The nature of doing theology, the role of the symbol of the Divine, performativity of sense-making, the Trinitarian confession, an emerging new self and the importance of an ethic of responsibility.</p> <p><strong>Contribution:</strong>&nbsp;The article is a response to the COVID-19 pandemic and emphasises the critical importance of engaging the Christian scripture. The role accorded to hermeneutics and to an explicit interdisciplinary conversation makes a particular contribution to the emerging crisis discourse.</p> 2021-08-05T00:00:00+00:00 Copyright (c) The Bible, faith formation and a virus – Exploring the influence of a pandemic on faith formation content and practices for children and teenagers 2021-08-12T19:03:16+00:00 Lyzette Hoffman <div id="articleAbstract"> <div> <p>The SARS-CoV-2 virus has posed different kinds of challenges to society and churches over the past months. With various ‘normal ministry practices’ not permitted under lockdown regulations, as well as people starting to fear the effect of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), a sense of crisis can easily prevail. However, a small congregation in Bloemfontein, South Africa, responded by engaging their children and teenagers through reflection, content and outreach. Various methods, including virtual and face to face, were utilised to minister to and with children and teenagers. This response can now be analysed to find answers to the following questions: How did the pandemic influence specific methods chosen for faith formation? What made it different from ‘ministry as usual’? What role did the Bible play in the methods and content used? Within the framework of the qualitative research, reflective practice from a hermeneutic perspective was utilised as theoretical approach to analyse the response of the pastors and Sunday school teachers. Reflection occurs on three levels, namely, technical (efficiency and effectiveness), practical (goals and consequences) and critical (analysis of one’s practice within wider contexts). A literature study was also conducted on the influence of a pandemic on faith formation. Recommendations were made regarding different ways to engage with children and teenagers and involving them in ministry.</p> <p><strong>Contribution:</strong> This research contributes to knowledge as to how and why pastors and congregations react the way they do in a pandemic and how this impacts upon faith formation among children and youth in the faith community.</p> </div> </div> 2021-08-06T00:00:00+00:00 Copyright (c) The radical, righteous and relevant Jesus in a coronavirus disease-defined world 2021-08-12T19:03:17+00:00 Willem H. Oliver <p>Stephan Joubert has already made his mark in South Africa (and abroad) with his solid way of doing Theology. In this&nbsp;<em>Festschrift</em>, we wanted to accord recognition to him for what he has already made and for what he is currently doing with e-kerk. His book,&nbsp;<em>Jesus Radical, Righteous, Relevant</em>, having initially been written in Afrikaans, was translated in 2012 into English and depicts his heart for the followers of Jesus and the&nbsp;<em>familia Dei,</em>&nbsp;specifically in South Africa. This article is a journey through this book, with the current dilemma in our country and worldwide in the back of our minds, namely, the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) starting in 2019.</p> <p><strong>Contribution:</strong>&nbsp;This article forms part of the Special Collection which will serve as a Festschrift for Prof Stephan Joubert to honour him for the tremendous work that he has done (and is still doing) in Theology in South Africa. I took his book, Jesus, Radical, Righteous, Relevant as basis and applied it to our current situation with COVID-19.</p> 2021-08-06T00:00:00+00:00 Copyright (c) Dignity, justice and community as a baseline for re-interpreting being church in a Corona-defined world 2021-08-12T19:03:18+00:00 Marinda van Niekerk <p>This article is written as a reflection on the relevance of being church in a world defined by the coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19). The reflections are done by listening to the stories and experiences of vulnerable men and women who were displaced from their areas of living on the streets into (mostly) temporary shelters. Different organisations, state entities, universities and churches collaborated to serve vulnerable people with dignity. Wonderful and tragic stories played out during this time. Corruption and misuse of power played out alongside passionate and sacrificial work being done by professionals and volunteers alike. This mixed package of care helped the author to reflect on the embodiment of faith and on being church. The value of collaboration is unpacked, and parts of a visual journal are used to bring the stories of people closer. Lessons learned include a growing understanding of the context of homeless people, the contributions they made to the learning experience, and the re-interpretation of critical elements of being church and what can contribute to becoming church in a just and dignified way. The re-interpretation of prayer, discipleship, missional focus, stewardship and leadership, and liturgy is used in re-interpreting being church. The conclusion brings us to the understanding that true community, as expressed in sharing in communion, is critical in becoming a transformative church. Where people from different walks of life connect in an honest way, the transformation of individuals and communities happens and can still happen.</p> <p><strong>Contribution:</strong>&nbsp;This article links to the focus and scope of the HTS journal in the way it connects the practical environment of people who are homeless to the experience of and thinking about church. The article reflects on being church and how to interpret faith in a Corona-defined world. From a theological reflection point of view, the understanding of liturgy and faith are re-imagined in the context of the lives of vulnerable people living in shelters. Key insights of the article poses to help the reader understand how dignity, justice and community help us all to re-imagine how to be church. It challenges the institutional church to become more of the community that embraces and welcomes vulnerable people to experience God and church in their spaces.</p> 2021-08-06T00:00:00+00:00 Copyright (c) The Emmaus narrative and contemporary Christian followership – An empirical case study 2021-08-12T19:03:19+00:00 Pierre B. Engelbrecht Willem J. Schoeman <p>This article aims to explore a ‘lived discipleship’ by determining whether and how contemporary communities of faith could implement the norms and principles reflected in the Emmaus narrative of Luke 24:13–35 within a plausible epistemological framework that might facilitate a fresh understanding of Christian followership as discipleship. This was done through an empirical case study using two focus groups as co-researchers, in order to actively listen to their respective understandings of lived theology in their unique South African contexts. The two focus groups consisted of (1) a contemporary Christian grouping of Afrikaans-speaking, active churchgoers situated in Hazeldean, a suburb in Pretoria East, Tshwane, Gauteng and (2) a contemporary Christian grouping of African, active churchgoers situated in Ivory Park, a suburb in Tembisa, Ekurhuleni, Gauteng. This article concluded that Luke 24:13–35 nudged the co-researchers to re-evaluate their contemporary understanding of discipleship and moved them to additional and new perspectives in terms of practical expressions thereof that can be best described as ‘lived followership’. A shift from perceiving Jesus in terms of an ‘act to follow’ by gaining the correct knowledge, to following Jesus as ‘a performative act’, a shift from ‘theoretical knowledge’ to ‘heart knowledge’.</p> <p><strong>Contribution:</strong>&nbsp;This article is a part of the Festschrift for Prof. Stephan Joubert. This article plays into similar creative interdisciplinary relationship as seen in the work of Prof. Joubert, by looking at the relationship between New Testament and Practical Theology in order to improve practices of faith that is rooted in a biblical understanding of Jesus.</p> 2021-08-06T00:00:00+00:00 Copyright (c) Two ancient theologians’ interpretations of the withered fig tree (Mt 21:18–22) 2021-08-12T19:03:21+00:00 Hennie F. Stander <div> <p>This article is an investigation on how two theologians from the Early Church interpreted the withered fig tree, as narrated by the evangelist Matthew (Mt 21:18–22). The two theologians referred to are Origen of Alexandria, who belongs to the pre-Nicene era and represents the Alexandrian School, and Ps.-Chrysostom who belongs to the post-Nicene era, and represents the School of Antioch. Origen believed that when the fig tree withered, it referred to Israel’s withering. This interpretation of the narrative surrounding the withered fig tree was very common in the Early Church. Ps.-Chrysostom makes it very clear that he cannot agree with this interpretation, which was quite common in the Early Church. He stated that it is wrong to liken the fig tree to the synagogue of the Jews. He argues that Jesus could not curse the synagogue, because he said that ‘The Son of Man did not come to destroy, but to seek and save the lost’ (cf. Lk 9:56). Moreover, if the synagogue withered, fruitful branches such as Paul, Stephen, Aquila and Priscilla could not have sprouted from the roots. These names are proof that God did not entirely reject the Jewish people. Ps.-Chrysostom then offers a different explanation to the question why the fig tree withered: He points out that Adam used the leaves of a fig tree to cover his nakedness. When Jesus caused the fig tree to wither, he wanted to show that he can give Adam a new garment of water and spirit that glistens like snow. Christ gave back to Adam what the serpent had robbed him of, namely ‘the angel-like life, the luxuriance of paradise, the garment of incorruptibility’ (PC. cp. 4).</p> <p><strong>Contribution:</strong>&nbsp;The primary goal of this article is to explore the exegetical practices of two ancient theologians who came from two different schools and from two different eras. This study shows how they interpreted the account of the withered fig tree (Mt 21:18–22), based on their respective theological perspectives.</p> </div> 2021-08-06T00:00:00+00:00 Copyright (c) Missional metanoia: Missional spirituality in holistic theological education 2021-08-12T19:03:22+00:00 Doret Niemandt Nelus C. Niemandt <h4>Abstract</h4> <div> <p>Theological education is in crisis having lost an important dimension with its main focus on quality academics often abstracted from real life. This study aimed to propose that the formation of spirituality is fundamental to theological education and that theological education should be a holistic formation. The setting of this study is re-imaging theological education in the Dutch Reformed Church (DRC), a denomination in the process of missional transformation, but it is also applicable to theological education in general. This study focused on the relation between theology and spirituality, the significance of missional spirituality in theological education and a probable model for the formation of a missional spirituality. The study found that theology and spirituality are interdependent, and theological education should thus focus on all the different areas of learning and formation, that is, minimum knowledge base, pass-on-able habits and skills, and attitudes and beliefs. Theological education should ultimately cultivate a missional spirituality, forming missional leaders for the church. Leaders who are equipped are able to equip others for God’s mission. Theological education is not about obtaining a degree but in essence a process of formation and transformation. Wright asks: if the gospel is not transforming you, will it transform anything else? Transformation to be able to transform – a missional metanoia.</p> <p><strong>Contribution:</strong>&nbsp;This study provides a probable model for holistic theological education and the formation of a missional spirituality.</p> </div> 2021-08-06T00:00:00+00:00 Copyright (c) The revelations of Revelation: The book that fits, even when it does not 2021-08-12T19:03:23+00:00 Hanré Janse van Rensburg <p>The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has again confirmed our obsession with, and misuse of, the Book of Revelation. Of course, this is definitely not the first time that Revelation’s themes and imagery have been pulled out and used to try and explain the current situation. In fact, the Book of Revelation is well-known as ‘the’ book of the New Testament where information about the present as well as the future can be found. Unfortunately, in situations like these, people simply do not bother to draw from the reservoir of experiences on which the author of Revelation naturally expected his hearer or reader to draw. This phenomenon is made worse by the fact that the primary study of the text has moved into the academic institution and, by inference, away from the faith movement. This may make earnest scholarly biblical study of the Apocalypse seem irrelevant to the general concerns of the faith community and the world. But the Book of Revelation does provide an indispensable resource for helping Christians conceive of their place in the contemporary world and meditate on the role the church is to play in a modern, secular society. John’s Apocalypse is not a mere nostalgic trip down memory lane; it is a form of&nbsp;<em>anamnesis</em>&nbsp;or recollection – in recalling or performing the narrative, the past is made physically present. By way of a performative reading of the Book of Revelation, this article makes use of a more practical exegetical dimension.</p> <p><strong>Contribution:</strong>&nbsp;This method brings the Apocalypse as New Testament text back into the life of the community of faith it belongs to and should be performed in, thus also increasing the usage and impact of the Book of Revelation in the faith community.</p> 2021-08-06T00:00:00+00:00 Copyright (c) Die herlewing van sekulêre spiritualiteit in Europa en die implikasie daarvan vir die NG Kerk in Suid-Afrika 2021-08-12T19:03:24+00:00 Jacobus Kok <p><strong>The revival of secular spirituality in Europe and its implication for the Dutch Reformed Church in South Africa.</strong>&nbsp;This article critically reflected on the insights of David Tacey in which he notes that there is currently a revival in post-secular spirituality in the West, but that its deep religious roots are lacking. What would be the implication of these trends for the South African religious landscape where traditional mainstream churches such as the Dutch Reformed Church are shrinking significantly? People often say yes to God, but no to the church. Some in the church may totally renounce God. What lessons could be learned by the South African mainstream churches and theology if these trends in the West were taken into account? In this article a critical literature review (desk research) was done and the study was structured as follows: In the first place, the implication of superdiversity, supermobility and the reality of a post-COVID-19 consciousness was discussed. Next we engaged in research by scholars in which it was shown that our time, at least in the West, is characterised by existential anxiety and uncertainty. Thirdly, we engaged in the insights of David Tacey in which he also argued the fact that the uncertainty of the time in which we live, often causes people to return to spirituality. Finally, the implication of these trends for the Dutch Reformed Church in South Africa was reflected on.</p> <p><strong>Contribution:</strong>&nbsp;This research makes a contribution to the nature and scope of the journal, in that it finds that the rise in secular spirituality, in the context of anxiety and uncertainty in a post-COVID-19 world, provides an opportunity for the Dutch Reformed Church to find meaning and significance.</p> 2021-08-06T00:00:00+00:00 Copyright (c) A social identity complexity theory reading of Philemon 2021-08-12T19:03:25+00:00 Jacobus Kok Ilse Swart <p>This article provides new perspectives on navigating complex social identity in the letter to Philemon by means of the heuristic use of social identity complexity theory (SICT) in combination with socio-rhetorical analysis (SRA). The application of SICT as a heuristic tool in New Testament (NT) studies is relatively new, but it is positioned within the novel research being carried out on social identity theory in the NT.</p> <p><strong>Contribution:</strong>&nbsp;This article wants to make a new contribution by illustrating how SICT can help us to think in more nuanced ways about nested identity(s) in Philemon.</p> 2021-08-06T00:00:00+00:00 Copyright (c) What has the beast’s mark to do with the COVID-19 vaccination, and what is the role of the church and answering to the Christians? 2021-08-12T19:03:26+00:00 Rantoa Letšosa <p>Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) escalated into a real pandemic within 3.5 months and had caused 183 000 deaths in 2020. The complexities of COVID-19 since the end of 2019 and throughout 2020 left a mouth full and the second wave has not least to be said. The purpose of this article is to challenge the response of the church in a time when her voice is mostly needed. During the lockdown Level 5, churches were amongst the many trends that had to close their doors to the believers and the community. This was a great shock because churches throughout history have been known as safe havens and anchorages. Churches helped with answers to unanswered questions, and in some instances, confessional statements and creeds were born. In the case of COVID-19, a lot of conspiracy theories went viral about COVID-19 and the vaccines that were still in their research stage. Lots of speculations rose as to the cause of this pandemic. The implementation of 5G was viewed as the cause of the coronavirus at the beginning of 2020, and much had to be done to correct this fallacy. Another controversial fallacy was the link of the vaccination with the beast’s mark, as was recently also insinuated in Chief Justice’s prayer. Questions have already been asked, what is the voice of the church in this regard? Congregation deals with this in different ways. Hence the relevance to the question, how timely can exegesis be to contemporary ecclesiology? What would be relevant hermeneutics that could assist in<br>embodying faith in a corona-defined world?&nbsp;<br>Contribution: This article strives to develop an interpretation of 666 that could be relevant to the questions asked and suggest a way forward in embodying faith in a corona-defined world and beyond.</p> 2021-08-06T00:00:00+00:00 Copyright (c) Transcendence and immanence <i>into</i> or <i>onto</i> creative pluralism in South Africa 2021-08-12T19:03:27+00:00 Johan A. van Rooyen <p>Two philosophical tools are used in this article, namely (1) that of philosophical-pluralism and (2) transcendent pluralism as a kind of glue to enhance our examining of creative pluralism. There is a diversity implant in positive modus of understanding this pluralistic pristine of creative pluralism within transcendence modus. To help facilitate this pluralistic pristine, the author makes use of three constructivist paradigms that are distinguished and used, namely (1) exogenous constructivism (rooted in a mechanistic metaphor) emphasising the reconstruction of structures preformed in the environment; (2) endogenous constructivism (rooted in an organismic metaphor) emphasising the coordination of previous organismic structures and (3) dialectical constructivism (rooted in a contextualistic metaphor) emphasising the construction of new structures out of organism and environmental interaction.</p> <p><strong>Contribution:</strong>&nbsp;The aim of this article is to present a coherent metatheory by specifying the boundary conditions in which each root metaphor (constructive pluralism) best applies. These above-mentioned versions of pluralism as tools are a reminiscence and a jubilee of the efforts made by sapiens through diversity onto or into pluralism to enable the religious hamlet to think and share. This pluralistic approach of orientation, I hope, will empower sapiens in their respective hamlets to define, articulate and designate to enhance their own epistemological and ontological vantage points wherefrom their individual, coherent and contextual ways of thinking, acting and projecting their lives in a positive modus by emphasising the reconstructions of their performance in their environment.</p> 2021-08-06T00:00:00+00:00 Copyright (c) Pursuing fullness of life through harmony with nature: Towards an African response to environmental destruction and climate change in Southern Africa 2021-08-12T19:03:28+00:00 Buhle Mpofu <p>Like the rest of the developed world, African nations are now subject to consumerist tendencies<br>of the global economic architecture and activities, which excessively exploit natural resources for<br>profits and are at the centre of what this article describes as ‘disharmony between nature and<br>humanity’. The exploitative nature of consumerist tendencies requires healing and restoration as<br>it leads towards unpredictable and destructive weather patterns in which the relationships<br>between human activity and the environment have created patterns and feedback mechanisms<br>that govern the presence, distribution and abundance of species assemblages. Disharmony is<br>employed to describe the exploitative nature of consumerist tendencies that lead to unpredictable<br>weather patterns. The consequences include climate change and natural disasters such as floods,<br>drought and environmental pollution, which have been severely experienced in Southern Africa<br>recently. This article provides a qualitative literature review on recent religious and ecumenical<br>responses to climate change crisis and draws on the notions of ‘cultural landscapes’ and<br>‘ecotheology’ to highlight an exploitative relationship, which is characterised by disharmony in<br>the relationship between humanity and nature. This illustration demonstrates how the concept<br>of unity between ‘self and the entire Kosmos’ in African worldview presents a potentially<br>constructive African theology of ecology. Amongst other recommendations, the article proposed<br>that in order for humanity to restore harmony and attain fullness of life – oikodome – with nature<br>the notions of healing, reconciliation, liberation and restoration should be extended to human<br>relations or interactions with nature and all of God’s creation.<br>Contribution: This article represents a contextual and systematic reflection on climate<br>challenges facing the African context within a paradigm in which the intersection of philosophy,<br>religious studies, social sciences, humanities and natural sciences generates an interdisciplinary,<br>multidisciplinary and transdisciplinary contested discourse.</p> 2021-08-06T00:00:00+00:00 Copyright (c) Rethinking the Eucharist in the aftermath of COVID-19 disruptions: A comparative study of Reformed and Pentecostal theology of sacraments 2021-08-12T19:03:29+00:00 Buhle Mpofu <p>This contribution recommends a re-thinking of Christian traditions with regards to sacraments and use of technology in the context of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. It is a comparative study that employed field observations from two congregations with different traditions: one from Protestant Reformed tradition and another from Pentecostal Charismatic background to analyse how they conducted Holy Communion services. By highlighting positive aspects of COVID-19 disruptions on traditional practices, the study challenged traditional understanding of ‘sacred space’ and re-appropriates the virtual role of a priest as symbolic embodiment of the presence of Christ extended through virtual, audio and tele-visual presence. The contribution also demonstrated how ontological questions help us discern what separates the sacred from the secular and concluded that the transformative nature of the sacrament of the Holy Communion has a uniquely power-levelling role in communities.</p> <p><strong>Contribution:</strong>&nbsp;This article contributes to conversations on the role of technology in sacraments within the Reformed Christian tradition and presents a systematic and practical reflection on the intersecting modes of sacramental practices within different Christian traditions.</p> 2021-08-06T00:00:00+00:00 Copyright (c) ‘The godly person has perished from the land’ (Mi 7:1–6): Micah’s lamentation of Judah’s corruption and its ethical imperatives for a healthy community living 2021-08-12T18:40:13+00:00 Blessing O. Boloje <div> <p>Micah 7:1–6 represents the prophet’s lamentation of the deficiency of moral value in a beloved nation. The oracle is a watershed in the Book of Micah that is aptly characterised by certain degrees of socio-economic and religious unfaithfulness, especially in privileged circumstances. The oracle unit (Mi 7:1–6) forms the darkest descriptions of degrees about the apparent moral wasteland of ancient Judah. The prophet’s metaphors are used to describe the miserable moral morass of society form a kind of compendium with a progression of thoughts and coherence of moral depravity. This article underscores that when people and society live in dishonesty and corruption, the essentially integrated spiritual-ethical-community of health and prosperity that is expected to unfold in time of covenant fidelity will eventually be reduced to poverty and despair, where people hunt each other for survival. This article explores aspects of dishonesty and corruption in the Book of Micah that are pointers to the tragic situation, analyses the various descriptions of corruption in the oracle unit and consequently examines its ethical imperatives for community living.</p> <p><strong>Contribution:</strong>&nbsp;As a biblical, literary and theological interpretation of Micah’s oracle concerning ancient Judah’s moral morass, this article brings together moral insights that are potentially viable for making major contributions to the life of people and just social order in an economics of affluence, politics of oppression and corruption in societies.</p> </div> 2021-08-12T00:00:00+00:00 Copyright (c) Modern theological research: The authorship of the Byzantine anaphora of Saint Basil under investigation with the Thesaurus Linguae Graecae database 2021-08-12T18:44:16+00:00 Ciprian I. Streza <p>Saint Basil the Great wrote one of the most important and widely acknowledged Eucharistic texts in the Eastern Orthodox Church, a liturgical anaphora that bears his name. Before the dawn of the second millennium, this was the main Eucharistic text used in Constantinople and in the territories under its authority. In the modern time of digital media, the liturgical research methods have been improved by using the Thesaurus Linguae Graecae (TLG) database. The emergence of patristic and liturgical texts in this novel format was able to revolutionise the field of Comparative Liturgics, allowing to very quickly find the possible internal clues, which prove the basilian authorship of the anaphora bearing St. Basil’s name. By the quick and accurate computer scanning of a part of the post-Sanctus prayer, a relatively complete picture of the relatedness of vocabulary, the author’s theological and ascetical nomenclature, the recurring thought patterns, parallel passages and hapax legomena, rare terms and their frequency, is obtained.</p> <p><strong>Contribution:</strong>&nbsp;The present article aims to demonstrate that Theology has to be connected to modern research methods because the findings of such an academic approach are helpful for the development of ecumenical and interreligious dialogue, that is so well promoted by&nbsp;<em>HTS Teologiese Studies/Theological Studies</em>.</p> 2021-08-12T00:00:00+00:00 Copyright (c)