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Victor I. Ezigbo

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This article explores the questions: Is Jesus’ teaching on forgiveness compatible with Nigerian Christians’ strategies of preemptive violence or counter-violent responses in light of harms done to them by people of other faiths? Are there some Christological reasons that might motivate Nigerian Christians to refrain from using violence as the only effective means available to them to protect Christian communities against attacks from people of other faiths? To answer these questions, I will focus on three main issues. Firstly, I will discuss the theological rhetoric of some pastors that are shaping Christian discourse on Christian-Muslim and Christian-traditional religion relations. Secondly, I will discuss the idea of ‘disciple’ and ‘non-disciple’ dialectics in Jesus’ thought vis-à-vis how his followers are to live in relation to his non-followers. Finally, I will also discuss Jesus’ teaching on forgiveness, highlighting some of its theological implications for tackling religious violence that are rooted in some Nigerian Christians’ anxieties about other religious faiths.

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Aaron Edwards

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Why do academic theologians spend most of their time complying with (and complaining about) bureaucracy? To what extent are the bureaucratic pressures upon theology a form of violence, and how might theology respond? This article engages social anthropologist David Graeber’s creative critique of bureaucracy in The Utopia of Rules (2016) and applies it towards a distinctly theological reading of the bureaucratic problem. Drawing widely on a number of thinkers, including Arendt, Foucault, Webster, Calvin, Hauerwas, Ellul, and others, the article diagnoses the inherent complexity of any theological response to bureaucracy, before offering an alternative mode of revolutionary compliance via the Biblical proclamation of the gospel of peace. If unspoken violence is indeed the heart of the bureaucratic problem, theology might respond with its own imaginatively interruptive language which proclaims how Christ—the Giver of peace armed with a gospel of peace—confronts all totalitarian systems, especially the unacknowledged.

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Ted Peters

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This blueprint for a constructive public theology assumes that Christian theology already includes public discourse. Following David Tracy’s delineation of three publics—church, academy, culture—further constructive work leads to a public theology conceived in the church, reflected on critically in the academy, and meshed with the wider culture. Public reflection on classic Christian doctrines in a post-secular pluralistic context takes the form of pastoral illumination, apologetic reason, a theology of nature, political theology, and prophetic critique.

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Nico Vorster

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Muslim radicalization has forced western states to rethink policies on integrating minority communities into their societies. As a result, some European countries are in the process of replacing the traditional multiculturalist state paradigms with a civic integration model. This article warns against integration policies that: i) create parallel societies; ii). impose the identity of the majority group on minority groups; iii). or impose a difference-blind universal identity on all its citizens. Drawing on the Christian-informed political philosophies of John Althusius and Charles Taylor, the case is made for an inclusionary political mindset that addresses the challenges of globalization and pluralization. The approach proposed is termed symbiotic politics and is based on a common respect for political values such as human dignity, equality and freedom that are essential for human coexistence, a shared commitment to non-aggression and mutual aid, and the political recognition of collective identities.

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Melanie Ross

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In this article the author makes an argument for evangelical worship as a form of public theology. The analysis proceeds in three parts. The first section examines depictions of evangelicals in American public media in order to show how evangelicalism and worship are closely linked in society’s imagination. The second section draws on debates between David Tracy and George Lindbeck to explain evangelicals’ distinctive approach to worship and witness. The third section presents a case study of a Sunday service at an evangelical megachurch, and suggests that increased attention to congregational worship practices can mitigate tensions between populist and academic understandings of public theology.