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Experiments in Empathy
The editors of Experiments in Empathy: Critical Reflections on Interreligious Education have assembled a volume that spans multiple religious traditions and offers innovative methods for teaching and designing interreligious learning. This groundbreaking text includes established interreligious educators and emerging scholars who expand the vision of this field to include critical studies, decolonial approaches and exciting pedagogical developments.

The book includes voices that are often left out of other comparative theology or interreligious education texts. Scholars from evangelical, Muslim, Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, religiously hybrid and other background enrich the existing models for interreligious classrooms. The book is particularly relevant at a time when religion is so often harnessed for division and hatred. By examining the roots of racism, xenophobia, sexism and their interaction with religion that contribute to inequity the volume offers real world educational interventions. The content is in high demand as are the authors who contributed to the volume.

Contributors are: Scott Alexander, Judith A. Berling, Monica A. Coleman, Reuven Firestone, Christine Hong, Jennifer Howe Peace, Munir Jiwa, Nancy Fuchs Kreimer, Tony Ritchie, Rachel Mikva, John Thatanamil, Timur Yuskaev.
Legal and Moral Theological Literature and the Formation of Early Modern Ibero-America
Editors: Thomas Duve and Otto Danwerth
Knowledge of the pragmatici sheds new light on pragmatic normative literature (mainly from the religious sphere), a genre crucial for the formation of normative orders in early modern Ibero-America. Long underrated by legal historical scholarship, these media – manuals for confessors, catechisms, and moral theological literature – selected and localised normative knowledge for the colonial worlds and thus shaped the language of normativity.

The eleven chapters of this book explore the circulation and the uses of pragmatic normative texts in the Iberian peninsula, in New Spain, Peru, New Granada and Brazil. The book reveals the functions and intellectual achievements of pragmatic literature, which condensed normative knowledge, drawing on medieval scholarly practices of ‘epitomisation’, and links the genre with early modern legal culture.

Contributors are: Manuela Bragagnolo, Agustín Casagrande, Otto Danwerth, Thomas Duve, José Luis Egío, Renzo Honores, Gustavo César Machado Cabral, Pilar Mejía, Christoph H. F. Meyer, Osvaldo Moutin, and David Rex Galindo.
Bridging Anthropological and Theological Perspectives
Faith in African Lived Christianity – Bridging Anthropological and Theological Perspectives offers a comprehensive, empirically rich and interdisciplinary approach to the study of faith in African Christianity. The book brings together anthropology and theology in the study of how faith and religious experiences shape the understanding of social life in Africa. The volume is a collection of chapters by prominent Africanist theologians, anthropologists and social scientists, who take people’s faith as their starting point and analyze it in a contextually sensitive way. It covers discussions of positionality in the study of African Christianity, interdisciplinary methods and approaches and a number of case studies on political, social and ecological aspects of African Christian spirituality.

Abstract

The #MeToo hashtag and campaign raises important questions for Christian public theology. In 2017, a church sign at Gustavus Adolphus church in New York City connected Jesus with #MeToo through Jesus’ words ‘You did this to me too’ (Matthew 25:40). This church sign offers appropriate recognition of the theological solidarity of Jesus with #MeToo at a metaphorical level, but this article argues a more direct historical connection should also be made. It examines work by Tombs (1999), Heath (2011), Gafney (2013), and Trainor (2014) that go beyond theological solidarity to identify Jesus as a victim of sexual abuse in a more historical and literal sense. It concludes that naming Jesus as victim of sexual abuse is not just a matter of correcting the historical record but can also help churches to address the damage caused by victim blaming or shaming.

In: International Journal of Public Theology

Abstract

The theoretical model: ‘Narrative meaning making and integration of life events’ hypothesizes that life events such as falling ill may result in an ‘experience of contingency’. Through narrative meaning making, this experience may be eventually integrated into patients’ life stories, which, in turn, may enhance their quality of life. To contribute to our understanding of this existential dimension of falling ill and to further validate the theoretical model, we examined the relationships among the concepts assessed with the RE-LIFE questionnaire.

Two hypothesized mediation models were assessed using regression-based serial multiple mediation analysis. Model 1, assessing the influence of ‘experience of contingency’ on ‘acknowledging’, was significant and showed partial mediation by indirect influences through ‘negative impact on life goals’ and ‘existential meaning’. Model 2, assessing the influence of ‘experience of contingency’ on ‘quality of life’, was also significant, with a full mediation by the variables ‘negative impact on life goals’, ‘existential meaning’ and ‘acknowledging’. In conclusion, several hypothesized relationships within the theoretical model were confirmed. Narrative meaning making and integration significantly influence people’s self-evaluation of their quality of life.

In: Journal of Empirical Theology

Abstract

The church struggle against apartheid remains a key case study in ecumenical public theology, with particular relevance for the Reformed tradition. The importance of Christian theology in both the justification of and opposition to apartheid is well known. Also, the process of ecumenical discernment for responding to apartheid became a significant marker in global ecumenical reflection on what today we might describe as public theology. However, the idea of a theological struggle against apartheid risks ironing out the different theological positions that oppose apartheid. This article highlights some of the attempts to analyze the theological plurality in responses to apartheid. Then it proceeds to present an alternative way of viewing this plurality by focusing on the way in which different classic theological questions were drawn upon to analyze apartheid theologically. Using as examples the important theologians David Bosch, Simon Maimela, and Albert Nolan, it highlights how apartheid was described as a problem of ecclesiology, theological anthropology, and soteriology. It argues that this plurality of theological analyses allows us to rediscover theological resources that might be of particular significance as race and racism take on new forms in either democratic South Africa or the contemporary world. Simultaneously, it serves as a valuable example in considering a variety of theological questions when theologically reflecting on issues of public concern.

In: Journal of Reformed Theology
Self, Land, and Text Among Evangelical Volunteers in Jerusalem
In Walking on the Pages of the Word of God Aron Engberg explores the religious language and identities of evangelical volunteer workers in contemporary Jerusalem. The volunteers are connected to Christian organizations which consider their work a natural consequence of the biblical promises to Israel and their responsibility to “bless the Jewish people”.

Relying on ethnographic data of the discursive practices of the volunteers, the book explores a central puzzle of Zionist Christianity: the narrative production of Israel’s religious significance and its relationship to broader Christian language traditions. By focusing on the volunteers’ stories about themselves, the land and the Bible, Aron Engberg offers a convincing account about how the State of Israel is finding its way into evangelical identities.

Abstract

This article explores the importance of “action research” and “participatory research” (ar and pr) for intercultural theology. After introducing these research strategies, it provides a theological rationale for their use in intercultural theology: (1) they move beyond false dichotomies between theoretical and practical theology; (2) they understand professional theologians as part of communities of believers; and (3) they allow for intercultural encounters which approach “the other” as partners in research rather than merely objects of research. Using the example of a research project which studies attitudes to the interface between science and Christian faith among African university students and academics, the article considers three crucial issues for the value and use of ar and pr in intercultural theology: (1) the intrinsic motivation of the partners for intercultural research projects, (2) the role of shared visions of change and (3) the question of truth implied in visions of human flourishing.1

In: Mission Studies

This study analyzes a complex case in society, namely, how to distinguish ride-sharing applications, such as Uber, from ordinary taxi enterprises. We conduct a structural analysis of normative practices with distinctions at the following levels: (1) aspects; (2) radical types, genotypes, and phenotypes; (3) part-whole, enkaptic relationships, and interlinkages; and (4) the distinction between qualifying and foundational functions as it is captured in the theory of normative practices. We conclude that the genotype of taxi matchmaking enterprises, of which Uber is an example, represents a novel normativity that could positively serve society and also produce normative challenges, depending on its governance. Therefore, regulators should not dismiss the entire genotype of taxi matchmaking enterprises, but should address the phenotypes that are illegal or that cannot thrive without the illegal behaviors of its users. This conclusion is clear from the structural and directional sides of the practice.

In: Philosophia Reformata

The network society is generally challenging for today’s communication practitioners because they are no longer the sole entities responsible for communication processes. This is a major change for many of them. In this paper, it will be contended that the normative practice model as developed within reformational philosophy is beneficial for clarifying the structure of communication practices. Based on this model, we argue that government communication should not be considered as primarily an activity that focuses on societal legitimation of policy; rather, it focuses on clarifying the meaning of the actions of the government. If the government can convincingly answer the question about the reason for their actions, societal legitimation will subsequently follow. Hence, it is argued that government communication is primarily linguistically qualified.

In: Philosophia Reformata