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D. Etienne de Villiers


During the last decade there has been an intense public debate in the South African society on the issue of ‘whiteness’ or ‘whiteliness’. In this article the challenges whiteness and the debate surrounding it pose for practitioners of public theology in South Africa are explored. In the first part some of the origins of the debate on whiteness, as well as some of the main features of whiteness researchers identify, are traced. In the second part a brief sketch is provided of two different kinds of critical response to whiteness in the present South African society, namely critical responses to structural whiteness and critical responses of a more personal nature. In the third part the challenges the present debate on whiteness pose to public theology in South Africa are identified and discussed.

David N. Field


In the context of a rising populism and the othering of migrating minorities this article proposes that a reconstruction of the public identity of a minority Church (The United Methodist Church) provides an important disruptive element directed toward a more just and inclusive democracy. The article draws on biblical and traditional resources, particularly those from within the Methodism to develop an alternative vision of the church. These resources are then brought into dialogue with the Swiss concept of an Eidegenossenschaft in order to propose an image of the church as God’s Eidgenossenschaft as contextually relevant and potentially fruitful way of imagining the church.

Christine Schliesser


How can a public theology advance the task of democracy in order to bring forth justice for all? This article focuses on post-genocide Rwanda as a current example of a country’s quest for justice, reconciliation and democratization after severe violent conflict. The first part traces the historical background of the Rwandan genocide with specific attention on the lack of just and democratic structures in pre-genocide Rwanda and the roles of the Christian churches therein. The second part explores the Christian churches’ involvement in the country’s current reconciliation process. Here, the Presbyterian Church of Rwanda (EPR) serves as a case study. The third part critically assesses the churches’ contribution to reconciliation with regards to how it serves to enhance—or hinder—the implementation of just and democratic structures.

Pan-chiu Lai


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.

Lap Yan Kung


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.