Browsing by Author "Forster, Dion Angus"
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- ItemActivating moral imagination : EXPOSED 2013 as a fourth generation faith-based campaign?(Pieter de Waal Neethling Trust, 2015) Bowers-Du Toit, Nadine; Forster, Dion AngusDavid Korten proposes a Fourth Generation approach (1990) to development that is value driven and sees social movements take centre stage in promoting a more just global society. Theologian Ignatius Swart (2006) has argued that Korten’s approach holds significant value for civil society role players such as the church, whose valuedriven agenda may serve to resist common values expressed by the powerful in society. Recently, the EXPOSED 2013 campaign has emerged as such a Christian social movement, seeking to mobilise up to 100 million Christians globally to take action against corruption. Using social media and church networks at all levels it aims to petition the G20 for more open tax regimes and greater transparency in international money flows to combat bribery and tax avoidance. This article documents and critically analyses the EXPOSED 2013 campaign through the lens of Korten’s Fourth Generation in dialogue with Swart’s faith-based analysis of Korten’s work.
- ItemAfrican relational ontology, individual identity, and Christian theology : an African theological contribution towards an integrated relational ontological identity(Sage, 2010-08) Forster, Dion AngusAfrican theology has a great deal to contribute to the theological discourse on human identity. Relationships are central to the formation, expression and understanding of who an individual person is. The African philosophy of ubuntu, more accurately expressed as umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu (a person is a person through other persons), affirms the critical under - standing that identity arises out of intersubjective interactions between persons. This paper discusses how concepts of identity in African philosophy and religion can enhance our theological understanding of individual identity. Hence this research presents an African theological approach to identity that is systematized in relation to the doctrine of God, the doctrine of Christian anthropology and the doctrine of salvation.
- ItemAn appreciative contextual response to Jean-Pierre Wils, ‘Is there a future for “medical ethics”?’ Just health as a public theological concern(AOSIS Publishing, 2016-12-02) Forster, Dion AngusThis article takes the form of an appreciative contextual response to the notion of ‘just health’ that is formulated in Jean-Pierre Wils’ article, ‘Is there a future for medical ethics?’ It approaches the notion of just health in the South African context from a public theological vantage point. The article addresses the issues of justice, care and the future of ‘medical ethics’ by adopting a position that seeks to constructively engage empire, economics and apathy in relation to just health in South Africa.
- ItemCalled to work : a descriptive analysis of Call42’s research on faith and work in South Africa(Scriber Editorial Systems, 2014-11-21) Forster, Dion AngusVery little empirical research has been conducted into faith and work, particularly as it relates to the experience and expectations of Christians in the world of work in South Africa. This article discusses the most recent research of this kind that was conducted by Call42. Call42 conducted an empirical research project on faith, calling, and the world of work between 2011 and 2012. The findings were released to the public after July 2012. Not only is this the most up to date data on this subject at present; the research findings and research process are also worthy of academic consideration. The Call42 research was initiated and commissioned by a group of young Christian professionals (mainly engineers) and as such it brings a perspective on faith and work from within the primary context of the world of work, rather than the theological academy or the church. The findings of the research have implications for the church and its officers (priests, pastors and leaders). It also arrives at some conclusions for Christians in the world of work, students who are contemplating a vocation or career path, and companies and organisations that have an explicit or implicit Christian orientation.
- ItemThe church has AIDS : towards a positive theology for an HIV+ church(Methodist Publishing, 2010-05) Forster, Dion AngusOne of the most controversial statements in the contemporary Church is surely the assertion that ‘The Church has AIDS’! This statement challenges Christians to recognize that it is impossible to do theology and engage in Christian life and ministry without taking into account the impact of HIV and AIDS on the world. Susan Rakoczy reminds us that theologians, and all Christians who take their belief in Christ seriously, have a responsibility to forge a positive theology of HIV/AIDS, since sadly so much of the Church’s official and popular rhetoric has sent the false message that at best God is silent on HIV and AIDS, and at worst God is either punishing persons with AIDS or has abandoned us in our suffering.
- ItemA generous ontology : identity as a process of intersubjective discovery - an African theological contribution(AOSIS Publishing, 2010-07) Forster, Dion AngusThe answer to the question ‘who am I?’ is of fundamental importance to being human. Answers to this question have traditionally been sought from various disciplines and sources, which include empirical sources, such as biology and sociology, and phenomenological sources, such as psychology and religion. Although the approaches are varied, they have the notion of foundational truth, whether from an objective or subjective perspective, in common. The question of human identity that is the subject of this paper is germinated from the title of a book by WITS academic, Ivor Chipkin, entitled, "Do South Africans exist? Nationalism, democracy and the identity of ‘the people" (2007). This paper does not discuss Chipkin’s thoughts on nationalism and democracy; however, it considered the matter of human identity that is raised by his question. The approach taken by this paper on the notion of identity was significantly influenced by Brian McLaren’s postmodernist approach to Christian doctrine as outlined in his book "A generous orthodoxy" (2004) – a term coined by Yale Theologian, Hans Frei. The inadequacies of traditional approaches to human identity and consciousness that are based upon ‘foundational knowledge’ were thus considered. Both subjective and objective approaches to identity were touched upon, showing the weaknesses of these approaches in dealing with the complex nature of true human identity. The paper then presented an integrative framework for individual consciousness that is not static or ultimately quantifiable, but rather formulated in the process of mutual discovery that arises from a shared journey. The approach presented here drew strongly upon the groundbreaking work of Ken Wilber and Eugene de Quincey and related their ontological systems to the intersubjective approach to identity that can be found in the African philosophy and theology of ‘ubuntu’. This paper focused on how the ethics and theology of this indigenous knowledge system can contribute toward overcoming the impasse of validating individual identity in contemporary academic debates on human consciousness.
- ItemThe (im)possibility of forgiveness? : an empirical intercultural Bible reading of Matthew 18:15-35(AFRICAN SUN MeDIA, 2017) Forster, Dion Angus; Hansen, Len"This book deals with contested and topical matters. Biblical hermeneutics has always been contested – how to read and understand Biblical passages. Things become even more contested when such passages are read inter-culturally; they become even more contested when the words are about contested personal and social issues, like Jesus’ words on forgiveness in Matthew 18. Empirical studies like this show how deeply contested such readings truly are in the context of South African churches, with their painful histories of division and conflict. Future academic work will, therefore, benefit from the creative and careful methodological approach developed in this study. However, this book offers much more than academic promise – precisely because of the theme, so topical today and without doubt topical for a long time to come and in many other places in our contemporary world as well. Forster offers resources for reading and conversation for everyone concerned with public life today. This is public theology in action, showing how faith matters – without prescribing answers, but rather by invitation to join an informed discussion." - Dirk J Smit, The Rimmer and Ruth de Vries Professor of Reformed Theology and Public Life, Princeton Theological Seminary.
- ItemJustice and the missional framework document of the Dutch Reformed Church(AOSIS Publishing, 2017) Botha, Jaco; Forster, Dion AngusThis article engages with the Missional Framework Document of the Dutch Reformed Church (DRC) from the perspectives of solidarity with the poor and justice for South African society. The democratic South Africa continues to face significant socio-economic problems and an increasingly dissatisfied population. In the light of this, the article presents an introductory conversation with the Missional Framework Document in order to ask whether it offers an adequate response to South Africa’s current contextual challenges. The lens through which this article will engage the Framework Document is the theological paradigm of justice, specifically the theory of justice presented by Nicholas Wolterstorff as well as some important contributions from contemporary South African scholars who advocate for a theology from the margins of society. It is contended that the DRC remains a predominantly white middle-class church. This social, economic and political location has an impact on the missional theology of the church as expressed in the Framework Document. Hence, we engage with the Missional Theology of the DRC by means of a paradigm that operates from the ‘underside’ or the economic, political and social ‘margins’ of South African society. We argue that any missional theology aimed at furthering God’s Kingdom in South Africa at present must develop in community with the marginalised majority of the nation. The critical engagement with the Framework Document will be done by sketching a theological landscape where current contextual realities are brought into relief against a kairos moment on which the efficacy of this church’s mission, indeed its public work and witness, is being called into question. Intradisciplinary and/or interdisciplinary implications: This interdisciplinary study in Systematic Theology and Ethics engages the missional theology found in the Missional Framework Document of the Dutch Reformed Church. Methodologically, the research advocates for a contextual engagement with the missional theology proposed by this important document. The outcome of this contextual theological consideration is an invitation for the Church to consider the ethics of justice as an important aspect of their approach to faithful Christian mission in the South African social, economic and political context.
- ItemMandela and the Methodists : faith, fallacy and fact(Church History Society of Southern Africa, 2014) Forster, Dion AngusThe death of Nelson Mandela has once again focused the spotlight on his religious convictions and faith affiliation. Numerous academics, journalists, and interested members of faith communities have asked what Mr Mandela's faith perspective was. It is clear that faith played a part in his life and this was evidenced in the events surrounding his death and funeral. Faith leaders, and in particular Christian leaders (such as Bishop Ivan Abrahams, Bishop Zipho Siwa, Archbishop Thabo Makgoba and Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu), featured prominently in the public and private events surroundding Mr Mandela's death, memorial service and funeral. Numerous media sources reported that the Mandela family, and Nelson Mandela in particular, were members of the Methodist Church of Southern Africa. The Chaplain General of the African National Congress is an ordained minister of the Methodist Church of Southern Africa, which also played some part in the role accorded to the Methodist Church of Southern Africa in the public and private moments of ministry surrounding Mr Mandela's death. This article considers Nelson Mandela's faith biography in order to answer the following questions: Was Nelson Mandela a member of the Methodist Church of Southern Africa? What was his relationship to the church and the Christian faith? What lessons can we learn from this for the relationship between the church and the state in South Africa?
- ItemMore red than green : a response to global warming and the environment from within the Methodist Church of Southern Africa(Methodist Publishing, 2008) Forster, Dion AngusSadly, environmental concerns have not been high on the agenda of the Methodist Church of Southern Africa (MCSA). The same can be said of most of the mainline denominations in the region. Whilst the effects of global warming and the impact of environmental destruction have tangible effects on life in Southern Africa there seem to be many more tangible and urgent issues causing the Churches to focus their efforts and energies elsewhere. These socio-economic issues have been labelled as ‘red’ concerns in this paper. They will be considered in greater detail below. In summary, this paper will discuss why the churches in Southern Africa, and the MCSA in particular, have dealt less fully and strategically with ‘green’ concerns, a term used in this paper to refer collectively to environmental matters, and have chosen to focus more acutely upon ‘red’ concerns. It will also consider what the impact of a lack of care for the environment has upon the poorest of South Africa’s population. The paper ends with a number of pointers from African traditional religion and African Christian theology that can hold both ‘red’ and ‘green’ concerns in tension in order to help society work towards a theologically responsible approach to sustainable development.
- ItemNelson Mandela and his faith(Stellenbosch University, 2015) Forster, Dion AngusThe death of Nelson Mandela on 5 December 2013 put the spotlight on his religious convictions and faith affiliation. Academics, journalists, and interested members of faith communities asked what his faith perspective was. Was Madiba a Christian? Was he a member of a particular church?
- ItemOn the 250th anniversary of a plain account of Christian perfection : a historical review of Wesleyan Theological Hybridity and its implications for contemporary discourses on Christian Humanism(Church History Society of Southern Africa, 2018) Forster, Dion AngusIn recent decades, there has been a resurgence of interest in discourses of secular and Christian humanism. This interest engages the question of what it means to be truly human, and what the implications of true humanity are for individuals and society. The genesis of theological and secular humanisms stems from the Eastern Orthodox doctrine of theosis-God in Christ becomes human so that human persons may become more truly like the God whose image and likeness they bear. John Wesley was deeply influenced by Eastern Orthodox theologians. Without grasping this hermeneutic position, one cannot understand either the content or intent of John Wesley's theology adequately. This paper expounds this aspect of Wesley's theology by means of a historical theological exploration of the influences of Eastern Orthodoxy in Wesleyan soteriology. It is argued that when Wesley's theology is understood as a hybrid of Eastern and Western theological influences and approaches, Christian perfection in the ordo salutis (order of salvation) supersedes the traditional Protestant emphasis on justification. In particular, this approach holds promise for making a unique and valuable contribution to contemporary discourses around Christian humanism.
- ItemA politics of forgiveness? Engaging the ontological and the structural in the dialogical theology of John de Gruchy(Pieter de Waal Neethling Trust, 2019) Forster, Dion AngusForgiveness is a deeply contested theological notion in contemporary South African theology and society. The same could be said for South African theologies of reconciliation, of which forgiveness is considered to be a part. Some claim that these concepts have been weakened, abused, and corrupted. In particular, there are doubts whether forgiveness holds any theological or social value at present. John de Gruchy has devoted a great deal of time and effort to developing a theologically subtle, and politically robust, understanding of forgiveness that links justice and reconciliation. This article will consider how John de Gruchy’s dialogical theology, which takes account of both the ontological and the structural aspects of forgiveness, facilitates an understanding of political forgiveness that can address some of the critiques of this notion in contemporary South African theologies.
- ItemPost-foundational theology and the contribution of African approaches to consciousness and identity(AOSIS, 2021-10-21) Forster, Dion AngusHow do we know who we are? What sources can we draw upon in order to explain and understand the complex notions of identity and consciousness? This article revisits this debate and argues that African approaches the consciousness and identity cohere with Wentzel van Huyssteen’s post-foundational theology. Post-foundational theology offers a transverse rationality that operates between explanatory power and truth. The impetus for the research that informs this article emerged from a conversation with Prof. Van Huyssteen in 2000. The conversation set the author on a path of exploration which led to the discovery of the richness of African religious, philosophical and social resources on identity and consciousness. The outcome was an integrated approach to identity known as a ‘generous ontology’ that draws upon subjective, objective, inter-subjective and inter-objective sources of knowledge. The article concludes that an African approach to consciousness, as a post-foundational theological contribution, helps us to offer clear explanations and deeper truths in relation to our understanding of identity and consciousness. Intradisciplinary and or interdisciplinary implications: This article presents a post-foundationalist argument for the inclusion of African theological notions of identity and consciousness in the debates of this field that take place at the intersections of faith and science. The outcome textures our explanations and deepens our understandings of transdisciplinary approaches to identity and consciousness.
- ItemA public theological approach to the (im)possibility of forgiveness in Matthew 18.15-35 : reading the text through the lens of integral theory(AOSIS Publishing, 2017-01-31) Forster, Dion AngusSome 20 years after the dawn of participative democracy there is little noticeable or substantial change in the living conditions of the average South African. The country remains divided by race, class and economics. Poverty, inequality and racial enmity remain looming challenges to human flourishing and social transformation. Some have begun to ask whether forgiveness for the sins of colonialism and apartheid are possible? This paper engages with the (im)possibility of forgiveness as it is presented in Matthew 18.15-35. In particular, it does so from the bilingual perspective of a Public Theological engagement with the text and its contemporary readers in South Africa. By reading the text from an integral All Quadrants All Levels (AQAL) approach this paper extrapolates a textured understanding of forgiveness that ‘possibilises’ the (im)possiblity of forgiveness between racially and socially divided groups of readers.
- ItemReflecting on the nature of work in contemporary South Africa : a public theological engagement with calling and vocation(AOSIS Publishing, 2020) Forster, Dion AngusThis article argues for a rediscovery of a theology of work in South Africa that is based on the Protestant notion of calling and vocation. Such a view has the primary intention of emphasising obedience and faithfulness to God rather than self-fulfilment or achievement as the intentions of work. Such an approach can empower and equip the church and individual Christians for effective and faithful living in all spheres of life – both private and public. The article shows that the influences of theological dualism, an unbalanced view of the clergy as primary agents of ministry and mission, and a structures-centred view of ministry and mission detracted from the importance of the church’s ministry in numerous spheres of society. A consequence of this was the introduction of a subtle dualism between faith and work. In response to this, the article considers how the church could become an agent of mission and transformation in the world of work. The conclusion of this article is that the South African church could benefit from revisiting and rediscovering a theology of work that is based on the Protestant emphasis of calling and vocation in the public sphere. Contribution: While this article engages the traditional protestant theological notions of calling and vocation, it argues that reconsidering these notions in relation to the contemporary world of work can renew a theology of work and ministry for South African churches to serve their members in achieving God’s will in society.
- ItemThe religious linguistic characteristics of the presence of the Kingdom in the light of Speech Act Theory : Christian ethical implications(Stellenbosch University, Faculty of Theology, 2017) Cho, Anna; Forster, Dion AngusThis article presents a novel Biblical ethical hermeneutic approach that emerges from an understanding of the presence of the kingdom of God in the Biblical text. The approach is predicated upon the use of speech act theory (abbreviated as SAT) in relation to ‘kingdom language’ in the Biblical text. The approach shows how the notion of kingdom language, as God’s divine activity, is elicited in the contemporary Christian’s life by allowing it to operate beyond the world of the Biblical text. In other words, this approach establishes a Biblical-ethical hermeneutic bridge be-tween the text (and its context) and the context of contemporary readers of the text. The alternative linguistic epistemology in SAT considers the principle of the kingdom of God in the past (locution level), the present (illocutionary level) and the future (perlocutionary level). The dynamic equivalences of the past, present and future of the kingdom of God based on an SAT approach to the Biblical text can inform Christian ethical theory and moral action in the present world. It can also provide a new moral sensibility in relation to God’s sovereignty and the respon-sibility of Christians in contemporary society.
- ItemA state church? : a consideration of the Methodist Church of Southern Africa in the light of Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s ‘Theological position paper on state and church’(Pieter de Waal Neethling Trust, 2016) Forster, Dion AngusThis article considers whether South Africa’s largest mainline Christian denomination, the Methodist Church of Southern Africa, is in danger of embodying or propagating a contemporary form of ‘state theology’. The notion of state theology in the South African context gained prominence through the publication of the ‘Kairos Document’ (1985) – which celebrated its thirtieth anniversary in 2015. State theology is deemed inappropriate and harmful to the identity and work of both the Christian church and the nation state. This article presents its consideration of whether the Methodist Church of Southern Africa is in danger of propagating ‘state theology’ in dialogue with Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s important document, Theological Position Paper on State and Church. The article offers some insights into the complex relationship between the state and the church in South Africa in the apartheid and democratic eras. It further problematizes the relationship between the Methodist Church of Southern Africa and the governing African National Congress by citing some concerning examples of complicit behaviour from recent history. The MCSA’s polity and doctrine on church and state relationships are also considered before some critique and warning is offered in the light of Bonhoeffer’s Theological Position Paper on State and Church.
- ItemTowards an (im)possible politics of forgiveness? Considering the complexities of religion, race and politics in South Africa(African Sun Media, 2020) Forster, Dion AngusThis chapter engages the complexity of a politics of forgiveness in South Africa some 24 years after the end of political apartheid. We shall do so by considering contested understandings of forgiveness among Black and White South Africans in relation to the trauma and history of apartheid. Why do White South Africans want forgiveness? Is it to find freedom from the wwguilt of apartheid, or possibly also to be set free from the responsibility to make reparations for the past? Could forgiveness be a weapon that further wounds Black South Africans by expecting them not only to live with the social, political and economic consequences of apartheid, but also to stop calling for justice? In his poem, ‘Fiction en estrangement,’ Nathan Trantraal speaks of how the Christian religion calls Black South Africans to forgive their White perpetrators. Yet this call doesn’t always count the cost of the call for forgiveness. He speaks of “die gif in vergifnis”, the poison (gif) in forgiveness (vergifnis) (Trantraal, 2017). This chapter draws upon a four-year qualitative empirical study on how Black and White South African Christians understand the processes and notions of forgiveness in the light of South Africa’s complex economic, social and political context. The project is entitled ‘The (im)possibility of forgiveness?’ We begin by considering the notion of the (im)possibility of forgiveness in present day South Africa. Why does the research focus on forgiveness (and not mercy, reconciliation, or indeed retribution or redistribution)? Next, we shall spend some time looking at the relationship between social identity complexities and notions of forgiveness among Black and White South African Christians. We shall end with some considerations of what may contribute towards making (im)possible forgiveness possible, and meaningful, among South Africans.
- ItemTranslation and a politics of forgiveness in South Africa? : what Black Christians believe and White Christians don’t seem to understand(Pieter de Waal Neethling Trust, 2018) Forster, Dion AngusWhy would white South Africans want to be forgiven? Is it in order to secure their future, or to escape from their past? Why is it that some black South Africans find forgiveness to be impossible in the current social and political reality? Forgiveness, as a theological and social discourse in South Africa, is deeply contested. This research shows that black and white South Africans understand notions, and processes of forgiveness in very different ways. This is a significant problem that is compounded by the legacy of ongoing structural injustice as a result of Apartheid. Un-reconciled persons in South Africa seldom have contact with each other since the apartheid system separated persons racially, according to economic class and geographically. In at least one sense this makes a shared understanding of, and approach to, forgiveness impossible. To some extent, South Africans do not truly encounter one another in meaningful engagement, or in spaces of shared meaning. In other words, there is both a hermeneutic and a social barrier to forgiveness in South Africa. Paul Ricoeur’s notion of translation can help to engage the complexities that exist in language and the very nature of the difference between the self and the other in what is termed a “politics of forgiveness”.