Kreatiewe pluralismes? : 'n kritiese analise van wet en evangelie in die denke van Michael Welker

Compaan, Auke,1968- (2002-12)

Thesis (DTh)--Stellenbosch University, 2002


ENGLISH ABSTRACT: How can believers live meaningful in our postmodern, disordered world? The thesis of this study is that the German theologian, Michael Weiker's exciting understanding of pluralism can assist people to get along in a new way in our complex world. This study is in essence a project that aims to assist people to orientate themselves within a world in which they are confronted on a daily basis with a variety of ethical choices, a plurality of lifestyles and values, as well as conflicting claims of the truth in a variety of cultures and religions. This study's point of departure is that Welker's understanding of pluralism can be expressed comprehensively by means of the law-gospel relationship in his work. Welker's understanding of law and gospel is presented as a midway between the clashing mono-hierarchical, dualistic and relativistic views of how theology, the church, believers as well as people outside the church, should orientate themselves within our pluralistic world. For Welker, pluralism is not something that should threaten people, but rather a fragile social phenomenon that should be loved and cherished by humankind. According to Welker, Christianity can contribute to this because the Christian canon, dogmas and church carry a pluralistic form as such. Chapter 1 demonstrates Weiker's definition of, as well as his positive attitude towards pluralism. According to Welker, pluralism must be structured. It signifies a fine balance between the associative and systemic dimensions of experience. The relationship between law and gospel in both the Biblical traditions and post modern cultures holds the key for him to the correct structuring of pluralism in the academic world, in modern societies as well as between cultures which are always threatened by either the mono-hierarchical or relativistic forms of pluralism. Chapter 2 indicates that according to Welker the law means that creation is constituted by associative, interdependent structural patterns, which promote and maintain life as such. Welker's understanding of the law means that, together with other postmodern theories, theology confirms the pluralistic nature of the world. The law balances the associative and systemic dimensions of pluralism by pluralising in judicial -, mercy - and cultural laws. The pluralism of the law in the Old Testament can help our modern world to structure the public sphere of society in such a way that justice and truth can be achieved in order to establish a collective future for all mankind. In Chapter 3 it becomes clear that sin can render the good law of God powerless and that all forms of pluralism are not necessarily good. For Welker, knowledge of creation (the law) means finite knowledge. Sin means for Welker the abolition and isolation of the associative character and interdependency of the differential spheres of creation. According to Welker, the absolutising of either the associative or the systemic dimensions of pluralism renders the law of God, as in Biblical traditions, powerless in modern societies. This in turn leads to chaotic relativism or to oppressing, totalitarian systemic forms of pluralism. The reality of sin means that it becomes impossible for theology to legitimise all postmodern theories, uncritically. The question remains, how is it possible to distinguish between good and bad forms of pluralism? Chapter 4 argues that Welker's understanding of the gospel can assist us with this problematic issue. The gospel, with the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ at its centre, signifies for Welker the revelation of the power of sin on the one hand, whilst on the other hand it reveals the freedom of the gospel. The cross of Christ exposes for Welker how the differential structural patterns of creation can degenerate in societies, whilst faith in the risen One signifies the revelation of the structural relations which is given in Christ. Christ's resurrection therefore means hope for creation. Welker argues that the Spirit maintains the associative and systemic dimensions of pluralism in creation. This is done by realising the intentions of the law, namely justice, mercy and complete knowledge of God in the public sphere of societies without uplifting the natural, social and cultural differentiation that exists between people and groups of people. The chaotic individualism and the mono-hierarchical degeneration of functional systems in our society lead to a feeling of powerlessness in modern societies. Opposed to this, the Spirit creates an alternative public community of holy ones that has not grown out of traditional, moral or political consensus. This community, associative and systemic, congregational and ecumenical, as body of the crucified and risen One, realises the kingdom of God universally under a variety of finite, particular circumstances in creation. Chapter 5 evaluates the practical results of Welker's law-gospel distinction. Pluralism can, according to Welker, easily be damaged within our mass- and functional societies. As alternative, people should learn to cherish and love pluralism. The benefit of Welker's law-gospel distinction is that it generates criteria, which can assist to distinguish between good and bad forms of pluralism. His drawing together of the associative and systemic dimensions of pluralism helps us to see that modern societies will gain nothing in falling back on personal and interpersonal experiences and reality constructions. People must rather accept the challenge to live complex, creative and interdisciplinary lives.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Hoe kan gelowiges betekenisvol in ons komplekse, postmoderne, deurmekaar wereld leef? Die tese van die studie is dat die Duitse teoloog, Michael Welker, se opwindende verstaan van pluralisme, mense kan help om op In nuwe wyse in ons komplekse wereld oor die weg te kom. Die studie is ten diepste dus In lewensorienterende projek wat mense wil help om hulself te orienteer binne In wereld waar hul daagliks gekonfronteer word met In verskeidenheid van etiese keuses, In pluraliteit van lewensstyle en lewenswaardes en botsende waarheidsaansprake van verskillende kulture en godsdienste. Die studie werk met die vertrekpunt dat Welker se verstaan van pluralisme omvattend uitgedruk word deur die wet-evangelie verhouding in sy denke. Welker se verstaan van wet en evangelie word in die studie aangebied as middeweg tussen die botsende rnonohierarqiese, dualistiese en relatiwistiese standpunte van hoe die teologie, kerk, gelowiges, maar ook mense buite die kerk, hulself binne ons pluralistiese ieefwereld moet orienteer. Pluralisme is vir Welker nie iets wat mense bedreig nie, maar In brose samelewingsverskynsel wat mense moet liefhe en koester. Die Christendom kan volgens hom hiertoe In bydrae maak omdat die christelike kanon, leerstukke, en kerk as sodanig In pluralistiese gestalte dra. In hoofstuk 1 word aangetoon hoekom Welker so positief is oor pluralisme en hoe hy dit definieer. Pluralisme moet volgens Welker gestruktureer word en beteken vir hom In fyn balans tussen die assosiatiewe en sistemiese dimensies van ervaring. Die verhouding tussen wet en evangelie in die Bybelse tradisies en postmoderne kulture hou vir hom die sleutel tot die regte strukturering van pluralisme in die akademie, in moderne samelewings en tussen verskillende kulture wat altyd deur monohierarpiese 6f relatiwistiese vorme van pluralisme bedreig word. In hoofstuk 2 word aangetoon dat die wet vir Welker beteken dat die skepping uit assosiatiewe, interafhanklike strukturele patrone opgebou is wat lewe as sodanig bevorder en in stand hou. Welker se verstaan van die wet beteken dat die teologie saam met ander postmoderne teoriee die pluralistiese aard van die wereld bevestig. Die wet in die Ou- Testament balanseer vir Welker die assosiatiewe en sistemiese dimensies van pluralisme deur in geregtigheids-, barmhartigheids- en kultiese kodes te pluraliseer. Die pluralistiese struktuur van die wet kan moderne samelewings begelei om pluralisme so te struktureer dat die soeke na geregtigheid en waarheid realiseer word. In hoofstuk 3 word dit duidelik dat die sonde die goeie wet van God magteloos kan maak en dat aile vorme van pluralisme nie noodwendig goed is nie. Kennis van die wet of skeppingskennis beteken vir Welker eindigheidskennis. Sonde beteken vir hom die opheffing en isolering van die assosiatiewe, interafhanklikheid van die differensiele sfere van die skepping. Volgens Welker word die wet van God, net soos in die Bybelse tradisies, ook in moderne samelewings magteloos gemaak deur die verabsolutering van 6f die assosiatiewe of sistemiese dimensies van pluralisme wat aanleiding gee tot chaotiese relatiwisme of onderdrukkende, totalitere sistemiese vorme van pluralisme. Die sonde beteken dat dit vir die teologie onmoontlik is om postmoderne teoriee, wat onkrities is teenoor die pluralismes van ons samelewings, sondermeer te legitimeer. Die vraag is hoe dit moontlik is om in die strukturering van ons pluralistiese wereld tussen goeie en slegte vorms van pluralisme te onderskei? In hoofstuk 4 word aangevoer dat Welker se verstaan van die evangelie ons hiermee kan help. Die evangelie, met die kruisiging en opstanding van Jesus Christus as middelpunt, beteken vir Welker enersyds die openbaring van die mag van die sonde, en andersyds die onthulling van die vryheid van die evangelie. Die kruis van Christus is vir Welker die openbaring van hoe die differensiele strukturele patrone van die skepping in samelewings kan verword, terwyl geloof in die Opgestane Een die onthulling van die strukturele relasies wat in Christus gegee is, beteken. Christus se opstanding beteken dus hoop vir die skepping. Die Gees hou volgens Welker die assosiatiewe en sistemiese dimensies van pluralisme in die skepping in stand deur op In pluralistiese wyse die intensies van die wet, naamlik geregtigheid, barmhartigheid en volkome Godskennis in die publieke sfeer van samelewings, te realiseer sonder om die natuurlike, sosiale en kulturele differensiasie tussen mense, groepe en groepe mense op te hef. Teenoor chaotiese individualisme en die rnonohierarqiese verwording van funksionele sisteme wat aanleiding gee tot die ervaring van magteloosheid in moderne samelewings, skep die Gees volgens Welker, In alternatiewe publieke sfeer wat nie uit tradisionele morele of politieke konsensus groei nie. 'n Gemeenskap van heiliges, wat as liggaam van die gekruisigde en opgestane Een, assosiatief en sistemies, gemeentelik en ekumenies, die koninkryk van God, universeel onder In veelheid van eindige, partikuliere omstandighede in die skepping, realiseer. In hoofstuk 5 word die resultate van Welker se wet-evangelie onderskeid geevalueer. Volgens Welker kan pluralisme maklik skade Iy binne ons rnassa- en funksionele samelewings en daarom het mense die opdrag om pluralisme lief te he en te koester. Die winspunte van Welker se wet-evangelie onderskeid is dat dit kriteria genereer wat help om tussen goeie en slegte vorme van pluralisme te onderskei. Welker se byeenhou van die assosiatiewe en sistemiese dimensies van pluralisme help ons om veral in te sien dat dit moderne mense nie veel gaan baat om terug te val op persoonlike en interpersoonlike ervarings en werklikheidskonstruksies nie, maar dat mense die uitdaging moet aanvaar om kompleks, kreatief en interdissipliner te leer leef.

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