Displaced People and Public Mercy: A Theological Account

In: International Journal of Public Theology
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  • 1 Research Associate, Department of Systematic Theology and Ecclesiology Stellenbosch University, South Africa
  • | 2 Lecturer, Ethiopian Graduate School of Theology Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
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Place shapes people (who will in turn shape it); it reveals the contextual nature of religions and their theologies, implying that certain phenomena can have a disruptive impact on the theological domain, rendering it an on-going reflective enterprise. In this article I seek to construct a public theology that responds to the disruption of displacement. To this end, I rehearse some of the theoretical considerations on the precarious nature of the human condition of displacement in order to appraise its disruptive potential. Then I draw on Gregory of Nyssa’s homilies on almsgiving to generate a theological account of public mercy that addresses itself to this condition of displacement. Finally, I will accentuate the desirability of mercy as a public virtue, arguing that its decline in contemporary public life and the diminishing consensus on its meaning in current scholarly discourses is disastrous.

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