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Marthe Hesselmans

In Racial Integration in the Church of Apartheid Marthe Hesselmans uncovers the post-apartheid transformation of South Africa’s Dutch Reformed Church. This church once constituted the religious pillar of the Afrikaner apartheid regime (1948-1994). Today, it seeks to unite the communities it long segregated into one multiracial institution. Few believe this will succeed. A close look inside congregations reveals unexpected stories of reconciliation though. Where South Africans realize they need each other to survive, faith offers common ground – albeit a feeble one. They show the potential, but also the limits of faith communities untangling entrenched national and racial affiliations. Linking South Africa’s post-apartheid transition to religious-nationalist movements worldwide, Hesselmans offers a unique perspective on religion as source of division and healing.

The Spirit, Indigenous Peoples and Social Change

Māori and a Pentecostal Theology of Social Engagement

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Michael J. Frost

In The Spirit, Indigenous Peoples and Social Change Michael Frost explores a pentecostal theology of social engagement in relation to Māori in New Zealand. Pentecostalism has had an ambiguous relationship with Māori and, in particular, lacks a robust and coherent theological framework for engaging in issues of social concern. Drawing on a number of interviews with Māori pentecostal leaders and ministers, Frost explores the transformative role of pentecostal experience for Māori cultural identity, a holistic theology of mission, an indigenous prophetic emphasis, and consequent connections between pentecostalism and liberation. He thus contributes a way forward for pentecostal theologies of social change in relation to Māori, with implications for pentecostalism and indigenous peoples in the West.

Taking on Practical Theology

The Idolization of Context and the Hope of Community

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Courtney Goto

In Taking on Practical Theology, Courtney T. Goto explores the regnant paradigm that shapes knowledge production and that preserves power, privilege, and historic communal injury even as scholars intend to enlighten and transform communities.

Approaching “context” as a case study, Goto illumines how this commonly used, taken-for-granted concept is “idolized.” Though practical theologians are sensitive to context, researchers often fail to consider how their own assumptive world dictates and influences their practices of research, teaching, and engaging in scholarly conversations. These practices unwittingly validate scholars who enjoy the most social capital while inflicting harm on both communities they research and on colleagues and students who do not fit (or fit less well) the norms of the majority.

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Edited by Brian Grim, Todd M. Johnson, Vegard Skirbekk and Gina Zurlo

The Yearbook of International Religious Demography presents an annual snapshot of the state of religious statistics around the world. Every year large amounts of data are collected through censuses, surveys, polls, religious communities, scholars, and a host of other sources. These data are collated and analyzed by research centers and scholars around the world. Large amounts of data appear in analyzed form in the World Religion Database (Brill), aiming at a researcher’s audience. The Yearbook presents data in sets of tables and scholarly articles spanning social science, demography, history, and geography. Each issue offers findings, sources, methods, and implications surrounding international religious demography. Each year an assessment is made of new data made available since the previous issue of the yearbook.

The 2018 volume features a wide range of subjects, including approaches to measuring religious violence, religious changes in the Indian Subcontinent, religious demography in Lebanon, Baptism and Godparenthood in Catholic Europe, the relevance of social media data for religious demographic research, and the methodological and practical challenges of measuring religiosity in Turkey.

Contributors are: Todd M. Johnson, Gina Zurlo, Peter Crossing, Robert Brathwaite, J. K. Bajaj, M. D. Srinivas, Wissam Raji, Yves Rahme, Marc Zeinoun, Charbel Zeidan, Guido Alfani, Joey Marshall, Zubeyir Nisanci, Juan Carlos Esparza Ochoa, María Concepción Servín Nieto.

Christianity, Empire and the Spirit

(Re)Configuring Faith and the Cultural

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Néstor Medina

In Christianity, Empire and The Spirit, Néstor Medina uncovers the cultural processes that play a crucial role in influencing how people understand reality, express the Christian faith, and think about God. He uses decolonial thinking, Latina/o theology, and Pentecostal theology to show how the cultural dimension is a central feature in the biblical text; was the force that coopted Christianity from the imperial era of Constantine onwards; and undergirded Western European colonialism and the missionary project. He engages with Protestant and Catholic articulations on “culture” and demonstrates how most theologians perpetuate Eurocentric frames for considering the relation between Christianity and the cultural dimension. Alternatively, he offers a theological proposal that recognizes the Spirit at work in the phenomena of cultures.

The Mission of Development

Religion and Techno-Politics in Asia

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Edited by Catherine Scheer, Philip Fountain and R. Michael Feener

The Mission of Development interrogates the complex relationships between Christian mission and international development in Asia from the 19th century to the new millennium. Through historically and ethnographically grounded case studies, contributors examine how missionaries have adapted to and shaped the age of development and processes of ‘technocratisation’, as well as how mission and development have sometimes come to be cast in opposition. The volume takes up an increasingly prominent strand in contemporary research that reverses the prior occlusion of the entanglements between religion and development. It breaks new ground through its analysis of the techno-politics of both development and mission, and by focusing on the importance of engagements and encounters in the field in Asia.

Pentecostals and Roman Catholics on Becoming a Christian

Spirit-Baptism, Faith, Conversion, Experience, and Discipleship in Ecumenical Perspective

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Karen Murphy

In Pentecostals and Roman Catholics on Becoming a Christian, Dr. Karen Murphy explores the fifth round of the International Roman Catholic-Pentecostal Dialogue (1998-2006). Discussing Spirit-baptism, faith, conversion, experience, and discipleship, Dr. Murphy notes areas in which the Dialogue has evolved since its inception in 1972. She unpacks the commonalities that bond Catholics and Pentecostals and examines theological divergences and challenges to dialogue. While Catholics approach becoming a Christian from a sacramental perspective, most Pentecostals think of Christian initiation in non-sacramental, or conversionist, terms, a reality that fosters ongoing tensions between the two traditions. Dr. Murphy reveals how Catholics and Pentecostals seek to overcome this dichotomy by honoring spirituality and experience as integral to the ecumenical encounter.

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Colby Dickinson

Continental philosophy underwent a ‘return to religion’ or a ‘theological turn’ in the late 20th century. And yet any conversation between continental philosophy and theology must begin by addressing the perceived distance between them: that one is concerned with destroying all normative, metaphysical order (continental philosophy’s task) and the other with preserving religious identity and community in the face of an increasingly secular society (theology’s task). Colby Dickinson argues in Continental Philosophy and Theology rather that perhaps such a tension is constitutive of the nature of order, thinking and representation which typically take dualistic forms and which might be rethought, though not necessarily abolished. Such a shift in perspective even allows one to contemplate this distance as not opting for one side over the other or by striking a middle ground, but as calling for a nondualistic theology that measures the complexity and inherently comparative nature of theological inquiry in order to realign theology’s relationship to continental philosophy entirely.

Common Words in Muslim-Christian Dialogue

A study of texts from the Common Word dialogue process

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Vebjørn Horsfjord

In Common Words in Muslim-Christian Dialogue Vebjørn L. Horsfjord offers an analysis of texts from an international dialogue process between Christian and Muslim leaders. Through detailed engagement with the Muslim dialogue letter A Common Word between Us and You (2007) and a large number of Christian responses to it, the study analyses the dialogue process in the wake of the Muslim initiative and shows how the various texts gain meaning through their interaction.

The author uses tools from critical discourse analysis and speech act analysis and claims that the Islamic dialogue initiative became more important as an invitation to Muslim-Christian dialogue than as theological reflection. He shows how Christian leaders systematically chose to steer the dialogue process towards practical questions about peaceful coexistence and away from theological issues.

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Jakob W. Wirén

In Hope and Otherness, Jakob Wirén analyses the place and role of the religious Other in contemporary eschatology. In connection with this theme, he examines and compares different levels of inclusion and exclusion in Christian, Muslim, and Jewish eschatologies. He argues that a distinction should be made in approaches to this issue between soteriological openness and eschatological openness. By going beyond Christian theology and also looking to Muslim and Jewish sources and by combining the question of the religious Other with eschatology, Wirén explores ways of articulating Christian eschatology in light of religious otherness, and provides a new and vital slant to the threefold paradigm of exclusivism, inclusivism and pluralism that has been prevalent in the theology of religions.

“Jakob Wirén’s study pushes forward the frontiers of three disciplines all at the same time: theology of religions; comparative religions and eschatology. (…) This is a challenging and important book.”
- Gavin D'Costa, University of Bristol, Professor of Catholic Theology, 2017

“This book explores of the status of religious others in Christian eschatology, and of eschatology itself as a privileged place for reflecting on religious otherness. Wiren mines not only Christian, but also Jewish and Muslim sources to develop an inclusive eschatology. Hope and Otherness thus represents an important contribution to both theology of religions and comparative theology.”
- Catherine Cornille, Boston College, Professor of Comparative Theology, 2017