John Calvin as public theologian? Reading Calvins theology in the light of contemporary discourses in public theology with reference to the Korean context

Kim, Minseok (2020-04)

Thesis (PhD)--Stellenbosch University, 2020.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Public theology is gaining prominence in many universities and institutions around the world. Yet, there is not a great deal of interest in public theology in the Korean context. This dissertation aimsto show that there are particular historical and theological reasons for this disregard, and the concerns related to this theological approach, among Korean Reformed Christians. Yet, in spite of the history and development of Korean Reformed Christianity, public theologies hold promise and opportunity for Korean theology. The intention of this exercise is to illustrate the importance of a public theological approach to issues of social and public concern within Korean Reformed Christianity. The dissertation shows that there is a coherence between some characteristics of public theology and the theological contribution of the Protestant Reformer, John Calvin. Aspects of John Calvin’s theology were chosen as illustrative examples since Korean Reformed Christians have a high regard for his contribution in shaping the Reformed theological tradition. Since the research illustrates that John Calvin can be constructively engaged through the hermeneutic lens of particular characteristics of public theology, it would offer a measure of theological credence for this approach to theology for Korean Reformed Christians and theologians. The six characteristics of public theology, presented by Heinrich Bedford-Strohm, are utilized as a lens to engage aspects of John Calvin’s theology and the period of the Reformation in Geneva. To this end, this dissertation firstly provides a summary of relevant concepts that include, among others, the notion of civil religion, the public sphere, the deprivatization of faith, and various theological contributions that relate to public theology from notable theologians and schools of thought in this field. This exercise aims at providing a comprehensive understanding of public theology from a variety of perspectives. Secondly, the research presents, and analyses, the six characteristics of public theology presented by Heinrich Bedford-Strohm. These characteristics constitute a credible and manageable hermeneutic lens that can be compared and related to the claims of other public theologians. It is shown that Bedford-Strohm’s six characteristics encapsulate a measure of consensus with regards to what constitutes contemporary understandings of public theology. Next, this hermeneutic lens is employed to engage aspects of John Calvin’s theology, and the Genevan Reformation. The intention in this section is to illustrate that such a hermeneutic approach to Reformed theology, with a particular emphasis on aspects of Calvin’s theology, is not incompatible with Bedford-Strohm’s characteristics of public theology. In this sense, Calvin’s theology could be understood as public theological in nature. Lastly, the research focusses on the theological and historical development of Korean Reformed Christianity in relation to public theology. This section has two aims: first, it highlights why Korean Reformed Christianity has adopted a character that could be considered critical of some of the foci and intentions of contemporary public theologies. Second, this section of the dissertation argues that in light of this history, and the illustrative coherence between the characteristics of public theology and aspects of Calvin’s Reformed theology, it would be reasonable and fruitful for Korean Reformed Christians to constructively engage public theologies going forward.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: In baie universiteite en instellings regoor die wêreld is daar ‘n toename aan die prominensie van publieke teologie, maar tog is daar nie veel belangstelling in die veld van publieke teologie binne die Koreaanse konteks nie. Hierdie proefskrif poog om aan te toon dat daar sekere historiese en teologiese redes is waarom Gereformeerde Christene in Korea nie aanklank by hierdie teologiese benadering vind nie. Daar word ook geargumenteer dat, ondanks die geskiedenis en ontwikkeling van die Gereformeerde tradisie in Korea, publieke teologie wel belangrike moontlikhede vir Koreaanse teologie inhou. Die doelwit van hierdie navorsing is om die belang van ‘n publieke teologiese benadering tot sekere sosiale en publieke kwessies binne die gereformeerde Koreaanse Christendom ten toon te stel. Hierdie proefskrif sal aantoon dat daar ‘n noue band tussen sommige karaktereienskappe van publieke teologie en die teologiese bydraes van die Protestantse hervormer, Johannes Calvyn, bestaan. Johannes Calvyn en sy bydrae in die vorming van die Gereformeerde teologiese tradisie word deur die Koreaanse Gereformeerde Christene hoog geag en daarom is sekere aspekte van Johannes Calvyn se teologie as voorbeelde gekies. Siende dat die navorsing daarop wys dat Johannes Calvyn op konstruktiewe wyse deur die hermeneutiese lens van spesifieke karaktereienskappe van publieke teologie benader kan word, is die hoop dat dit teologiese geloofwaardigheid aan hierdie benadering binne die Gereformeerde kringe in Korea sal verleen. Die ses karaktereienskappe van publieke teologie wat deur Heinrich Bedford-Strohm daargestel word, word as lens ingespan om aspekte van Johannes Calvyn se teologie tydens die Reformasie-gebeure in Genève te ondersoek. Om hierdie doel bied die proefskrif eerstens ‘n opsomming van relevante konsepte wat, onder andere, burgerlike godsdiens, die publieke sfeer, en die de-privatisering van geloof insluit, en ondersoek ook verskeie teologiese bydraes van noemenswaardige teoloë en denkskole binne die veld van publieke teologie. Hierdeur word daar gepoog om ‘n omvattende verstaan van publieke teologie vanuit ‘n verskeidenheid van perspektiewe daar te stel. Tweedens analiseer die navorsingsprojek ook die ses karaktereienskappe van publieke teologie, soos dit deur Heinrich Bedford-Strohm uiteengesit word. Hierdie karaktereienskappe bied ‘n geloofwaardige en bruikbare hermeneutiese lens wat verband hou met die aansprake van ander publieke teoloë. Daar word aangevoer dat Bedford-Strohm se ses karaktereienskappe ‘n konsensus voorhou van dit wat as publieke teologie gesien kan word. Vervolgens word hierdie hermeneutiese lens gebruik om aspekte van die teologie van Johannes Calvyn en die Geneefse Reformasie te ondersoek. Die bedoeling van die gedeelte is om te illustreer dat hierdie hermeneutiese benadering tot gereformeerde teologie, met ‘n besondere klem op aspekte van Calvyn se teologie, versoenbaar is met Bedford-Strohm se kenmerke van publieke teologie. In hierdie sin kan Calvyn se teologie as publieke teologie verstaan word. Laastens, fokus die navorsing op die teologiese en historiese ontwikkeling van die Koreaanse gereformeerde Christelike geloof met betrekking tot publieke teologie. Hierdie gedeelte het twee doelstellings: eerstens beklemtoon dit waarom Koreaanse gereformeerde Christene dikwels ‘n kritiese posisie teen van die fokusse en bedoelings van kontemporêre publieke teologieë inneem. In die tweede plek word daar geargumenteer dat in die lig van hierdie geskiedenis en die bewese samehang tussen die eienskappe van publieke teologie en aspekte van Calvyn se gereformeerde teologie, dit redelik en voordelig vir gereformeerde kerke in Korea sou wees om op konstruktiewe wyse met publieke teologie in gesprek te tree.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/108084
This item appears in the following collections: