This publication makes the case for ‘religion and education’ as a distinct, but cross-disciplinary, field of inquiry. To begin with, consideration is given to the changing dynamic between ‘religion and education’ historically, and the differing understandings of religious education within it. Next, ‘religion and education’ is examined from methodologically specific perspectives, namely the philosophical, historical and sociological. The authors outline the particular insights to be gleaned about ‘religion and education’ on the basis of their commitment to these methodological standpoints. Overall, this publication is concerned with demonstrating the scope of the field, and the importance of having a range of disciplinary, and interdisciplinary, perspectives informing it.
Global Religious and Secular Dynamics offers a global historical perspective that integrates European theories of modern secularization and competing theories of global religious revival as interrelated dynamics. In the first section Casanova examines the emergence of the modern religious/secular binary system of classification within a critical review of Émile Durkheim’s and Max Weber’s divergent theories of religion. The modern system of classification is contrasted with the pre-axial one, in which all reality was organized according to the binary sacred/profane, and with the post-axial one, which was organized according to the binary transcendent/immanent.
The second and third sections contrast the internal European road of secularization without religious pluralization with the external colonial road of global intercultural and religious encounters, particularly in Asia, that led to the global system of religious pluralism. The final section examines the contemporary intertwinement of religious and secular dynamics through the globalization of the immanent frame and the expansion of global denominationalism.
In “To Renew the Covenant”: Religious Themes in Eighteenth-Century Quaker Abolitionism, Jon R. Kershner argues that Quakers adhered to a providential view of history, which motivated their desire to take a corporate position against slavery. Antislavery Quakers believed God’s dealings with them, for good or ill, were contingent on their faithfulness. Their history of deliverance from persecution, the liberty of conscience they experienced in the British colonies, and the ethics of the Golden Rule formed a covenantal relationship with God that challenged notions of human bondage. Kershner traces the history of abolitionist theologies from George Fox and William Edmundson in the late seventeenth century to Paul Cuffe and Benjamin Banneker in the early nineteenth century. It covers the Germantown Protest, Benjamin Lay, John Woolman, Anthony Benezet, William Dillwyn, Warner Mifflin, and others who offered religious arguments against slavery. It also surveys recent developments in Quaker antislavery studies.
The ecological discourses in China include the government’s political propaganda and the voices based on the traditional Chinese culture, especially Confucianism, Buddhism and Daoism. Furthermore, there are also public discourses on ecological issues from the environmental scientists and/or activists, who may adhere to neither the political party line nor any traditional Chinese religious/philosophical perspectives. As such, when Chinese Christians attempt to address ecological issues, they have to respond to these divergent voices in the public sphere. This article reviews the Chinese Christian ecological discourses from the perspective of a public theology. It will examine whether, and how, they respond to the non-Christian voices, and analyze how they exhibit different approaches to public theology. It will further explore whether, and how, Chinese Christian ecological discourses could benefit from Christian discourses in other contexts, and may in return contribute to the global development of an ecological theology as a public discourse.
Seeking for true-ness is the core concern of the people of Hong Kong during the Umbrella Movement. That search starts from the political structure (true universal suffrage), and continues through into the formation of identity (true Hongkongese). This article illustrates how the Umbrella Movement has provided the people of Hong Kong with an experience of a truthful politics which is different from the current realpolitik. It sets out to see Hong Kong as their homeland, while developing a new language in terms of political localism. Nevertheless, there is a tendency for such political localism to become too narrow, exclusive and sentimental. The ecumenicity of the church interpreted in the light of Wolfhart Pannenberg’s theology is a different social imaginary. It can challenge both the inclination to narrowness and exclusivism of political localism, and the authoritarianism of the Chinese authorities. It possesses the potential to enrich the people of Hong Kong by allowing them to see that the unity of humankind (creation) is the ground of politics.
Over the past three decades political relationships between mainland China and Taiwan have fluctuated precariously between warm peace and cold war. Instead of playing the role of the biblical peacemaker, Christian theologians on both sides have developed irreconcilable nationalist theologies in order to sanctify their respective nationalist programs: Chinese unification versus Taiwanese independence. For the purpose of constructing peace across the Taiwan Strait, a new political theology needs to be built on the centrality of religious freedom to be found in the Bible, democratic values, and the actual politics of both China and Taiwan. The second section of this article analyzes the biblical sources of a Chinese unification theology and a Taiwanese independence theology. The third and fourth sections introduce the historical development of nationalism and nationalist theology in both societies. The fifth section concludes by proposing a democratic union theology that builds on the centrality of religious freedom in the Bible, democratic values, and actual politics.