AT 2017 Volume 37 Issue 2

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  • ItemOpen Access
    A distinctive Pentecostal hermeneutic: possible and/or necessary?
    (Faculty of Theology, University of the Free State, 2017) Nel, M.
    Over the past twenty years, Pentecostal theologians have published extensively on hermeneutical issues, a subject that had not received much consideration before the mid-1990s. In their discussion of hermeneutical issues, Pentecostal theologians may create the impression that their hermeneutics is so unique that one can speak of a distinctive Pentecostal hermeneutics. This article raises the question as to whether it is possible and/or necessary to speak of such a distinctive hermeneutics. The growing debate among Pentecostals about hermeneutical issues demonstrates that they disagree on several important issues. They should also discount the difference between an academic hermeneutics and what happens on their pulpits and in their pews. Although there are specific identifiable emphases in a Pentecostal hermeneutics, it does not qualify to be called distinctive, and an ecumenical approach demands that the movement should function within the context of the wider Christian church and its history of reading and interpreting the Bible.
  • ItemOpen Access
    The relevance of continental philosophy of religion for theology in contemporary South Africa
    (Faculty of Theology, University of the Free State, 2017) Verhoef, A. H.
    Theology in South Africa has a strong metaphysical element. This article argues the relevance of the work of modern continental philosophers of religion and theology for a post-metaphysical South African context. In their criticism of metaphysics, philosophers such as Descartes, Kant, Nietzsche, Heidegger, and Derrida raise fundamental questions about the relation between theology (including religion) and metaphysics, as well as about the future of theology and religion. Attempts to respond to these challenges by modern philosophers of religion and theology, such as Caputo, Nancy, Stoker, Kearney, and Schrijvers, are explored to identify possible approaches to theology in a post-metaphysical age. The article argues the pertinence of these insights to making theology relevant in a diverse South African society.
  • ItemOpen Access
    "As if nothing happened"? Karl Barth and the study of prophetic preaching in South Africa today
    (Faculty of Theology, University of the Free State, 2017) Laubscher, M.
    This article explores the significance of Karl Barth’s (homiletical) theology for the current study of prophetic preaching in South Africa today. In the first section, I explore and probe the significance in questioning the current study of prophetic preaching in South Africa, and whether one could relate that to the call of reading Barth’s theology anew in the South African context. Thereafter, I explore both these focuses in more detail in their own right – the state of discourse and scholarship in our study of prophetic preaching, and the significance of revisiting and exploring the meaning in Barth’s famous words to do (in the midst of crises) theology “as if nothing had happened”. In the last section, I will spell out some of these insights of Barth for the study and practice of prophetic preaching in South Africa today.
  • ItemOpen Access
    A critical evaluation of the understanding of God in J.S. Mbiti's theology
    (Faculty of Theology, University of the Free State, 2017) Han, Y. S.; Beyers, J.
    This article investigates how Mbiti articulates the theological reflections on the understanding of God from an African perspective. Mbiti systematises data of the African concepts of God in a set of Western Christian doctrinal systems. He presupposes a continuity between the Christian and the African concepts of God, and overemphasises the similarities. Mbiti regards African Traditional Religion(s) (ATR(s)) as monotheism and as a praeparatio evangelica, and maintains that the Christian God is the same as the God worshipped in ATR(s). In Mbiti’s theology, negative attributes of the African God, which are irreconcilable with the God of the Bible, are not critically evaluated, and the concept of the Trinity is not articulated. In this article, the notions of African monotheism and of ATR(s) as a praeparatio evangelica are criticised. This article claims that what African theology needs is to clarify the Christian concept of God, and to articulate the understanding of God within a Trinitarian context.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Contemplating Allan Boesak's fascination with preaching "truth to power"
    (Faculty of Theology, University of the Free State, 2017) Wessels, W.
    Preaching can rightly be called “foolishness”, an outdated form of communication and a feeble form of art. In democratic South Africa, preaching is certainly not assigned a place among the ranks of professions conveying “development”. Allan Boesak, however, has not been swayed by the excommunication of preaching since the dawn of democracy. In this article, I will contemplate Boesak’s fascination with preaching “Truth to power”. Boesak, as a son of liberation and Black theology, is known for aspiring to a new world through the biblical witness. In essence, preaching the biblical truths to power. Therefore, when academics contemplate the state of preaching and express concern with regards to how power operates in our society and faith communities, Boesak certainly has a contribution to make. I briefly examine how power operates in the South African society. Boesak’s publications and sermons are contemplated in the hope of uncovering his fascination with preaching truth to power. I conclude with some thoughts on how Boesak preaches truth to power for both the dismal state of preaching and how power operates in South Africa.
  • ItemOpen Access
    "Who is Christ for us today?" Bonhoeffer's question for the church
    (Faculty of Theology, University of the Free State, 2017) Van der Westhuizen, H.
    How can a theology thinking about the church learn from Bonhoeffer’s famous and oft repeated question of who Jesus Christ is for us today? The article attempts to answer this question by tracing Bonhoeffer’s theological concerns that led him to ask this question in what he called a religionless age. In the first section of the article, Bonhoeffer’s understanding of this age will be examined. In the second and third sections, the who-question will be explored in light of the parts of his theology where his Christological imperative gains differentiated contours. This article’s contribution does not lie in the different answers that can be given from Bonhoeffer’s own theology, but rather it seeks to understand the question better. In other words, what does this question mean in a religionless age? In the fourth section, Bonhoeffer’s question will be used as a hermeneutical tool. How can a more differentiated understanding of Bonhoeffer’s question, or the theology underlying this question, contribute to a hermeneutic for being church today?
  • ItemOpen Access
    Love in a time of scarcity: an event-hermeneutical interpretation
    (Faculty of Theology, University of the Free State, 2017) Hermans, C. A. M.
    Love as a theological virtue raises difficult questions. How can love be a gift from God, and yet at the same time human beings can be praised for the love of others? How can love be infused by God, and also be an act of free will? An event-hermeneutical approach can help us to find answers to these questions. This article presents an event-hermeneutical reading of the parable of the prodigal son, and the phenomenological analysis of love by Harry Frankfurt. The fact that a person comes to love the object of his love implies a deep transformation of the will. But love is a risk: it may happen, but it need not. The (im)possibility of transformation is deepened by looking at the phenomenon of scarcity. At the end of the article, the author summarises five elements of a theological theory on the virtue of love in a time of scarcity.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Chaoskampf in the Orthodox Baptism ritual
    (Faculty of Theology, University of the Free State, 2017) Oancea, C.
    The present article analyses the occurrence of the Chaoskampf motif in the Orthodox Baptism ritual and its biblical and Near-Eastern backgrounds. Such statements are direct references to Old and New Testament texts in which water has negative connotations, being associated with hostile or chaotic aspects of existence. In the baptismal interpretation of the biblical motif, sea, depths and dragons are figurative names for demons. The liturgical reinterpretation of these biblical references is the preamble of the baptismal exorcisms. Biblical texts about the struggle against chaos were included in the ritual in order to illustrate Christ’s supremacy over all hostile forces subduing man before Baptism. This illustrative process occurred with the historical development of the baptism ritual after the 4th century.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Matthean atonement rituals
    (Faculty of Theology, University of the Free State, 2017) Nel, M. J.
    This article focuses on rituals in the Gospel of Matthew that affect forgiveness between God and human beings, as well as between human agents. It argues that rituals play an important role in signalling and affecting forgiveness. It gives an operational definition of a ritual and identifies possible atonement rituals in the Gospel of Matthew up to the crucifixion of Jesus. These rituals are analysed to determine how they affect atonement through the forgiveness of sins. Since access to these rituals is only possible through the text of Matthew, Strecker’s taxonomy of how rites and text are interwoven in the New Testament is used to order the analysis of Matthew. Finally, concluding remarks are made on the relationship between ritual and authority in Matthew.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Interview with Michael Welker
    (Faculty of Theology, University of the Free State, 2017) Van der Westhuizen, H.
    Abstract not available
  • ItemOpen Access
    #Rainmustfall - a theological reflection on drought, thirst, and the water of life
    (Faculty of Theology, University of the Free State, 2017) Marais, N.
    This article focuses on the rhetorical interplay between drought, thirst, and the water of life in a time of drought. The negotiation of meaning that occurs in the interaction between Jesus and the Samaritan woman (John 4) reflects the struggle for meaning that occurs when water is rhetorically ambiguous in a time of water scarcity. This paper argues that the theological rhetoric of water is embedded in soteriological imagination, which requires remembering – through the sacrament of baptism – the significance of the giving God who wills human and ecological flourishing.2 Moreover, it is argued that the good news of salvation brings rhetoric and ethics, doctrine and life, into a dynamic communicative process, so that water, as that which is freely given by God, has nothing less than abundant life or ecological and human flourishing as its apparent intended focus.