Masters Degrees (Systematic Theology and Ecclesiology)

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Now showing 1 - 5 of 78
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    When Christians suffer? : a South African Pentecostal engagement with theodicy and the character of God
    (Stellenbosch : Stellenbosch University, 2023-10-20) Hifindaka, Vilio Tutungeni; Forster, Dion Angus; Stellenbosch University. Faculty of Theology. Dept. of Systematic Theology and Ecclesiology.
    ENGLISH ABSTRACT: This thesis presents a Pentecostal understanding of the character of God in light of Christians suffering sickness, depression and death in South Africa. Given the statistically verifiable prevalence of suffering among the majority Christian South African population, an understanding of God in light of suffering is pertinent. Moreover, the thesis addresses the problem which exists as a result of the perceived inconsistency between what some Christians believe about the character of God and what is experienced on a daily basis by South African believers undergoing suffering. To further narrow the context of the study, the author writes specifically concerning an understanding of God in suffering from a Pentecostal Christian perspective. The research project uses a qualitative-analysis methodology as its principal theoretical framework. The author uses this methodology when assessing selected works from Chris Oyakhilome as a representative of a particular type of Pentecostal theology present amongst South African believers. Moreover, the emerging theology from Oyakhilome is critically evaluated. This evaluation is undertaken by engaging with the Crucified God by Jürgen Moltmann and weighing up Oyakhilome’s understanding of God in suffering against that of Moltmann, inter alia, other influential approaches to theodicy. Finally, the findings are consolidated and a proposal for a revised Pentecostal understanding of God’s character in relation to suffering is offered. This consists primarily of three traits, namely: the good God, the healing God and the suffering God. The study concludes by summarising the findings of the research, making some proposals for how a South African Pentecostal understanding of God can be further developed, and suggests areas for future research.
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    Beyond handouts : a gendered analysis of faith-based organization’s response to homelessness
    (Stellenbosch : Stellenbosch University, 2023-03 ) Mbaya, Brandina; Bowers-Du Toit, Nadine; Claassens, L. Juliana M.; Stellenbosch University. Faculty of Theology. Dept. of Practical Theology and Missiology.
    ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Homelessness is a complex issue, caused by interlocking socio-economic factors and Faith Based Organisations (FBO’s) are one of the sectors at the forefront in addressing this issue at grassroots level. Causes of homelessness include poverty, unemployment, substance abuse, immigration, urbanisation, and abuse. Although, homelessness can be experienced by anyone if a crisis occurs in one’s life, homeless women face critical and gendered issues as they are vulnerable and become an easy target on the streets. Such issues include challenges of reproductive health issues, lack of antenatal care, sanitary essentials and often physical, sexual, emotional and substance abuse in addition to challenges faced by the homeless population in general. Women also are rejected by families when gender identities are revealed. It is also important to note that women are an increasing population within the homeless community. Women issues lack representation in literature, particularly homeless women. This study, therefore, seeks to highlight the plight of homeless women, and additionally seeks to engage this issue theologically from a Womanist lens. The story of Hagar found in Genesis is analysed using womanist theology to expose how intersecting issues such as class, gender and race perpetuate homelessness. Finally, the study employs a qualitative approach using critical discourse analysis to analyse three FBOs in Cape Town to ascertain whether they engage a gender sensitive lens in their work with the homeless population and whether they address the issues of homeless women within the work of their organisations. This analysed their websites, reports, programmes, partnerships, and testimonials. The findings of the study indicate that while, the organisations (FBOs) cater to the basic human needs of street homeless population, there is a lack of consistency and attention given to gender issues, specifically issues faced by women. Recommendations are also, therefore, made in this regard.
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    Uncovering the wounds in Inxeba-The Wound : the value of posttraumatic public theology for considering masculinity constructions within amaXhosa initiation schools
    (Stellenbosch : Stellenbosch University, 2023-02 ) Fumba, Zukisa Patrick; Mahokoto, Sipho Sidwell; Claassens, L. Juliana M.
    ENGLISH ABSTRACT: This thesis explores the value of Posttraumatic Public Theology in considering the masculinity constructions within amaXhosa initiation schools. This study is performed by uncovering the wounds using the film Inxeba-The Wound, which captures well the complexities of the amaXhosa hegemonic masculinity. Inxeba-The Wound provides a platform for this study to employ gender-critical lenses, which have been used in this thesis. Furthermore, the study used hermeneutical lenses, the work of Shelly Rambo on a Posttraumatic Public Theology, to address the construction of wounds from and within amaXhosa initiation schools. This study proposes that Posttraumatic Public Theology is well suited to study amaXhosa initiation as a system that constructs masculinities that are harmful in forming boys into manhood. The critical engagement of intersectional themes like masculine gender construction, gender-based violence and sexual orientation in Inxeba-The Wound proves that amaXhosa initiation schools, from their harmful practices, are a source of wounding the bodies of non-conforming groups such as women, girls, and queer men. However, this study also argues that Inxeba-The Wound can serve as a trauma narrative of survival of queer men bodies and women's bodies. The illustration in this chapter has been done through the pedagogy of discomfort as a meaningful facilitator of difficult conversations like amaXhosa initiation schools. This study thus proposes that a film like Inxeba – The Wound to challenge harmful cultural practices within amaXhosa initiation schools. This study reveals an urgent need for amaXhosa communities to recognize the challenges faced by the initiation schools, whose initial purpose is to build and make a home (including communities) flourish through maleness. However, the portrayal of some of the harmfulness at amaXhosa initiation schools (if not all) is extremely concerning because of the violation and violence to other bodies and self. The kind of damaging practices, prescribed or not, are absorbed with dehumanizing effects on women, girls, and queer men, requiring urgent communal attention to restore the meaning of these initiation schools to their intended purpose. This study makes a case for alternative forms of masculinity construction that can be redemptive for all bodies to be free and respected by all people. The architecture of the amaXhosa initiation schools is a hope to heal the wounds they have created and continue to cause, only if amaXhosa communities act soonest to stop the wounding of the others in these initiation schools.
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    Tradition and transformation : towards a concept of tradition for reformed theology, in conversation with Alasdair MacIntyre
    (Stellenbosch : Stellenbosch University, 2022-03-03) Niehaus, Heinrich Frederick; Vosloo, Robert; Stellenbosch University. Faculty of Theology. Dept. of Systematic Theology and Ecclesiology.
    ENGLISH ABSTRACT: There are two significant challenges to thinking about tradition from the perspective of Reformed Christian theology: the historical origins and teachings of Reformed Christianity, which predispose it against tradition; and modernity’s tradition of non-tradition it inherits from the Enlightenment. The danger of a deficiency in thinking about tradition is especially clear with regards to how the transformation of tradition is understood. In this regard, the deficiency might manifest as either a rejection of all change, or conversely as the rejection of all standards of integrity. What is needed is a concept of tradition which reckons with the problem of change and continuity, and allows for a tradition to navigate transformation in such a way that both its integrity as well as its openness is protected. Specifically, this concept must be useful to Reformed churches, and engage with the resources of the Reformed tradition. This essay engages with the work of philosopher Alasdair MacIntyre on the topic of tradition, and adopts as theoretical basis his definition of tradition as a historically extended, socially embodied argument in part about the goods that constitute it, as well as his account of the internal rationalisation of traditions through epistemological crises. This account is then brought into conversation with the Reformed tradition, especially with regards to its two related dicta sola scriptura and ecclesia reformata semper reformanda. The tradition concept constructed thereby suggests that the Reformed tradition’s integrity is maintained through the ceaseless relating of the tradition back to revelation, and the scripture that mediates its access. Additionally, it suggests that openness does not imperil integrity, but tests integrity, and allows for clarification of the tradition’s own identity. Of particular note is the emphasis that this account would place on the cultivation of virtue as the means by which the integrity and openness of the tradition, and therefore its vitality, might be protected.
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    An ecological theology in the Dutch Reformed Church of South Africa? : a critical theological review
    (Stellenbosch : Stellenbosch University, 2020-11) Hoffmann, Dewald; Forster, Dion Angus; Stellenbosch University. Faculty of Theology. Dept. of Systematical Theology and Ecclesiology.
    ENGLISH ABSTRACT: The global Earth community finds itself in an unprecedented environmental crisis; a crisis that has been bought on by the actions of its human inhabitants. As humanity has evolved and grown, so has its societies and the way in which it views the world. This rapid growth and progress have however had a devastating impact on the whole Earth community. The power with which humanity enacts violence against the rest of creation has physically altered delicate balances that sustain life, effecting both human and non-human existence. Never has a single species had such an overwhelming effect on the Earth. These habits and practices are deeply embedded in beliefs and worldviews that have objectified the natural world as a recourse to be exploited for human gain. These issues demand theological reflection. Many contributions in Ecotheology have been shared, but one could ask how the environmental crisis has been engaged from within a South African context? The environmental crisis is something that affects all of the Earth community; it not only has an effect on the natural world, but also on the livelihoods of people. It is therefore a concern that is relevant (and essential!) to local congregations. This study will focus on the Dutch Reformed Church (DRC) of South Africa and attempts to map the landscape of Ecotheology within the denomination. This is done by examining the theologies and worldviews that have had an impact in shaping the environmental crisis as we have it today. Then by engaging with the complexity of the South African context, the study situates the DRC by understanding environment in a holistic manner. Following this, the study focusses on the impact different metaphors and creative language can have on engaging with the environmental crisis. The environmental crisis is an unparalleled test facing humanity. The human race has to honestly reflect on the scope of its destructive impact and drastically change its ways. Examining a well-established and institutional church in the South African context has the potential to awaken conversation and fresh contributions. Surveying the ecotheological landscape of the DRC can become part of a wider movement in society. The call to adopt alternative practices helps frame the rest of creation as more than just a recourse, but as good and part of God’s great cosmic story.