Doctoral Degrees (Systematic Theology and Ecclesiology)

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    The recognition of queer bodies in the URCSA : towards a hermeneutic of hospitality
    (2023-10-31) Davids, Hanzline Rudolf; Jones, Chris; Forster, Dion Angus; Stellenbosch University. Faculty of Theology. Dept. of Systematic Theology and Ecclesiology
    ENGLISH ABSTRACT: The Uniting Reformed Church in Southern Africa, an African Reformed church, is standing at a crossroad about whether to recognise queer bodies in the denomination or not. Focusing on the URCSA as a case study, this dissertation employed queer theology as a theological framework, utilising the four main sources of doing theology: Scripture, tradition, reason, and experience. Using these sources in no specific order, this study starts with reason, which delves into the philosophical and theological meanings of recognition and a hermeneutic of hospitality. Subsequently, the study revisits reason, examining the discourses that impede the recognition of queer bodies within the URCSA. The first discourse under study is the compounding impact of heteropatriarchal ideologies of biological essentialism and gender complementarity. The second discourse centres on the politics of biblical authority and queer interpretation. Lastly, using a queer theological approach, this study turned to tradition by identifying and analysing the theological decisions regarding homosexuality from 2005 to 2022, theological reports on Homosexuality (2008) (URCSA, 2008b), the Traditional View on Homosexuality (2016) (URCSA, 2018), and the Belhar Confession. In this exploration, it becomes evident that bodies transcend the confines of biological essentialism and gender complementarity, and that a queer theological approach to Scripture open doors to readings and interpretations of recognition. Ultimately, this investigation concludes that the identification and acknowledgement of queer bodies within the URCSA should find its foundation in the Triune God. Guided by the recognition of the Triune God, a hermeneutic of hospitality directs the process of identifying discourses that contribute to misrecognition.
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    The missionary women in the Huguenot Seminary : a case study in vocational formation through education
    (Stellenbosch : Stellenbosch University, 2023-03) Pascal, Pienaar; Muller, Retief; Stellenbosch University. Faculty of Theology. Dept. of Systematic Theology and Ecclesiology.
    ENGLISH ABSTRACT: This dissertation is written with the goal of examining the influences and motivations behind the decisions made by some of the 19th-century women at the Huguenot Seminary in Wellington, South Africa to follow a missionary vocation. The Huguenot Seminary and the environment which it created had a substantial impact on the vocational formation of the women who attended the institution. However, when one examines the primary accounts of these women, for the most part only spiritual motivations for becoming missionaries are given. In the light of this, this study seeks to “uncover” the largely overlooked history of the Seminary as well as the South African missionary women who studied there. An investigation into these women’s vocational development is needed to construct a more nuanced and comprehensive image of the influences which motivated them. These include spiritual factors, but are, in fact, comprised of an amalgamation of factors both secular and religious. In order to achieve this, this dissertation firstly, after having presented the history of the Huguenot Seminary and the development of missionary interest at the institution, employs a framework to categorise the various identified influencing factors extrapolated from various primary sources, for easier further examination. The study then engages with Social Cognitive Career Theory and Calling Theory. Through this, new perspectives on the various identified influencing factors are brought to the fore. An examination of the spiritual and theological influences on missionary vocational development at the Huguenot Seminary is then presented, as well as an investigation into the way in which these influences coexisted and intertwined with the previously discussed secular impacting elements of the women’s decisions to become missionaries. Finally, the dissertation examines all the preceding information and outcomes of the study from a critical standpoint. Within this critical reflection, identifiable areas of caution with regards to the research as well as proposals for avenues of future research, are presented.
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    Revisiting Pentecostal spiritualities with reference to African traditional religious practices and Pentecostal theologies of prayer in Ghana
    (Stellenbosch : Stellenbosch University, 2023-03 ) Buertey, Joseph Ignatius Teye; Hansen, Len; Elorm-Donkor, Lord Abraham; Stellenbosch University. Faculty of Theology. Dept. of Systematic Theology and Ecclesiology.
    ENGLISH ABSTRACT: This study examines prayer as practiced by Pentecostal churches in Ghana and the fact that new Ghanaian prayer practices are developing as variations of Classical Pentecostal Spirituality. The study focuses on Pentecostal Spirituality and theology of prayer while considering these new developments and situating them within an African Traditional spiritual context. It was established that primal, dualistic and causal ATR worldviews also confront many Africans with ideas of a cosmic struggle. Facing the latter challenge has led to adopting practices similar to, or at least influenced by, ATR practices, especially in neo-prophetic churches. Although admittedly, some Ghanaian Pentecostal spiritualities and practices are discontinuous to or broke with ATR worldviews and practices, it is postulated that some also are not or have not done so, particularly regarding prayer. Defining Pentecostal Spirituality as a praxis of integrated beliefs, practices, sensibilities and values, it was argued that Pentecostal Spirituality, with the Holy Spirit as its fulcrum, is particularly clear in its praxis and experiences of prayer. It was, furthermore, held that Pentecostal Spirituality can never be understood without reference to Pentecostal theology and vice versa, as ‘two sides of the same coin’. As such, both Pentecostal Spirituality and theology are discussed in detail. In evaluating Pentecostal theology of prayer, it is also shown that there may be many possible motives behind (Ghanaian) Pentecostal prayer, including fear, threat, uncertainty, joy, need and spiritual desire. Some of these drivers, however, have resulted in a shift from the more experiential Classical Pentecostal model of prayer to one of demand-driven causality – one that includes an increasing element of ‘glossolalic abuse’ that also needs careful theological attention. The Ghanaian Pentecostal theology of prayer is therefore conceptualised as transactionally Christological, spontaneously ‘glossolalic’, lyrically doxological, and ontologically authoritative. An investigation into the emerging neo-prophetic prayer practices revealed that the African worldview of evil and the proponent’s quest for the ‘magicalisation’ of instant results have led to the assimilated neo-prophetic sacramental and transactional ritual prayer evident at the prayer markets via prayer giants who monetise prayer. Refocusing on a theological examination of Pentecostal prayer practices, it was revealed that although the Pentecostal Spirituality of prayer is intended to attract people to and strengthen believers’ relationship with God, emerging prayer practices are mostly driven by fear and uncertainty, resulting in the pursuit of hierarchical, consequential, solution-centred prayers. In light of the findings, the study proposes a four-fold integrated prayer model (a modification of Horton-Clowney’s model) with the introduction of an African worldview as the fourth motive for prayer, whilst upholding that African Pentecostals do not pray driven by one motive but a combination of motives. Therefore, a contextual Pentecostal practice of prayer is proposed based on an ‘ACTS Model’, that takes into account African traditional praxis, the Christocentric Full Gospel, Transactional Nomenclature, and Spirit-centrality.
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    From disengagement to engagement : interrogating the political hermeneutics of Neo-Pentecostals in Kenya (2000-2022)
    (Stellenbosch : Stellenbosch University, 2023-02 ) David, Stephen Kioko; Muller, Retief
    ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Neo-Pentecostalism is the new face of Christianity with global and local manifestations. Studies on Christianity in Africa have shifted their focus from mainstream Christianity to Pentecostalism. This study contributed to the discourse on Pentecostalism specifically on Pentecostal engagement in the public sphere. Therefore, the study interrogated the political hermeneutics of Neo-Pentecostals explaining the shift from disengagement to engagement in politics in Kenya (2000 -2022). Towards this end, the study was guided by the following objectives: To analyse the history and the theology of Neo-Pentecostals in Kenya; to examine the theological shift of the Neo - Pentecostals from disengagement to engagement in Kenyan politics; to discuss the biblical-political hermeneutics of Neo-Pentecostals and its impact on the Neo-Pentecostals involvement in Kenyan politics; to analyse the nature, extent and the prophetic role of Neo-Pentecostal’s engagement in Kenyan politics. While studies have been done on Neo-Pentecostals and public engagement, this study delved into the Neo-Pentecostal aspect of biblical interpretation regarding political involvement. On methodology, the study used a descriptive research design employing both qualitative and quantitative approaches. To arrive at the appropriate study sample purposive, simple random, and stratified sampling procedures were used to sample bishops, pastors, and Church members from three Neo-Pentecostal Churches in Nairobi County and Nakuru County in Kenya. The study included two members of the Evangelical Alliance of Kenya (EAK), which is a representative body of Pentecostals on social matters. In total, the study sampled 221 respondents. Questionnaires, interview schedules, Focus group discussions, and personal observations were utilized in data collection. The field data was integrated with library research in analysing Neo-Pentecostal’s political hermeneutics, especially the shift from disengagement to engagement. The study data revealed that Neo-Pentecostalism finds its emergence within classical Pentecostalism through a period of growth within the story of the church. That Neo-Pentecostal theology is pneumatic, and although initially borrowed from evangelicalism, with time their theology has become more experiential with an emphasis on the lived experiences of the adherents. Further, the study found that while historically, the Neo-Pentecostal shift from disengagement to engagement was situated in eschatological contexts, eschatology with the quest of understanding the millennium and its place in the church was not purely what informed the shift. Besides, eschatology was the different hermeneutics that accompanied the Neo-Pentecostal emphasis on the Third person of the trinity; Holy Spirit. With a pneumatic posture in theology, Neo-Pentecostals interpret the Bible from a spiritualized orientation; what this study labelled spiritualized-selective-literal hermeneutics Concerning the Neo-Pentecostal nature and extent of involvement in Kenyan politics, the study established that Neo-Pentecostals are not normally active in terms of being prophetic. However, with a pneumatic theology and spirituality, demons and evil spirits are interpreted as the cause of individual and national problems. Consequently, their involvement in politics is spiritualized in the sense that prayer takes the centre stage. This is accompanied by a theology of deliverance, exorcising the demons which destroy the nation and its citizens. The findings of the study put together formed this thesis. The thesis will later be a source of scholarly articles and research papers on Pentecostal political hermeneutics.
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    Abbot ʿĔnbāqom and Islam : the historical-theological significance of Anqäs’ä Amin’s contribution to Christian-Muslim engagement in sixteenth century Ethiopia
    (Stellenbosch : Stellenbosch University, 2022-08) Bekele, Yohannes; Muller, Retief; McRoy, Andrew; Stellenbosch University. Faculty of Theology. Dept of Systematic Theology and Ecclesiology.
    ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Abbot ʿĔnbāqom (1470-1565) was a Yemeni convert to Christianity. He witnessed Ethiopia's Islamic conquest by Ahmad Ibn Ibrahim al-Ghazi (Ahmad Grāñ) in the sixteenth century. Many churches and monasteries were destroyed during the military incursions, and Christians were confronted with the choice of conversion or death, with many apostatising. ʿĔnbāqom addressed this threat by writing to Grāñ to refrain and convert to Christianity, resulting in considerable correspondence with the Imam. One of the letters evolved into a Christian edition entitled Anqäs’ä Amin (The Door of Faith). This pastoral work was a call to the remnant of Christians to persevere in their faith in Christ, including a plea to those who had left the Christian fold to return. ʿĔnbāqom additionally played a prominent role in translation projects and the restoration of ecclesiastical and other literature destroyed during the invasion. This study attempts to evaluate ʿĔnbāqom’s impact on, and contribution to, Christian-Muslim engagement in sixteenth century Ethiopia. This is a historical research with a focus on ʿĔnbāqom’s magnum opus work Anqäs’ä Amin. The second chapter provides a background to the Christian-Muslim engagement before and during ʿĔnbāqom’s time in Ethiopia, followed by a chapter outlining an intellectual biography of the Abbot through the primary use of a hagiographical source in the reconstruction of his life, by creating a distinction between the ʿĔnbāqom of history and Saint of faith. Chapter four focuses on ʿĔnbāqom’s writings, especially Anqäs’ä Amin. Chapter five and six examine selected themes of the pre-modern monk's theological approach to Islam and Christian-Muslim engagement. In the past Anqäs’ä Amin has been unwarrantedly dismissed as an insignificant work. This research not only analyses Anqäs’ä Amin, but also highlights its significance, and the substantial contribution ʿĔnbāqom made. His reflections on Islam were quite ahead of his time, as attested by the most recent scholarship on the Qur’an. He had constructed his argument by starting with the Qur’anic witness of previous Scriptures and Christian doctrines, and he had explained Christian theology through the use of, and in contradistinction to, Islamic Scripture. He raised the superior position of Jesus as portrayed in the Qur’an in his engagement with Muslims. In addition, this research focuses on the neglected missiological dimensions developed by ʿĔnbāqom during his response to the military Islamic conquest. ʿĔnbāqom pioneered Christian reading of the Qur’an in sixteenth-century Ethiopia, and was the first to translate the Islamic Scripture into Ge’ez. Finally, ʿĔnbāqom’s writings had a two-fold pedagogical role: • translating Christianity to Muslims • interpreting Islam to Christians