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Edited by Stephen J. Hunt

The growth of the megachurch (generally defined as a regular attendance of over 2,000 people) is undoubtedly one of the most exceptional religious trends of recent times, certainly within the Christian sphere. Spreading from the USA, megachurches have now become common globally - reaching different national and cultural contexts. The edited volume Handbook of Megachurches offers a comprehensive account of the subject from various academic perspectives: sociology, religious studies, religious history and religious studies among them. Topics covered include: the historical developments and growth, typologies, theology, popular culture, revivalism, social engagement, and the manifestation of megachurches in such countries as Canada, Russia, India and Africa.

Joseph N. Goh, Kristine C. Meneses and Donald E. Messer

Abstract

Many lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people (LGBT), and people living with HIV (PLHIV) feel estranged from and misunderstood by their Christian communities. Churches, in turn, continue to wrestle with issues of theology and pastoral care pertaining to LGBT and PHIV. In response, this article aims to construct an ecclesiological praxis of inclusivity toward LGBT and PLHIV. Framed by Elisabeth Schüsler Fiorenza’s notion of Jesus’ basileia vision as the praxis of inclusive wholeness, we analyze, interpret and theologize narratives from elite interviews with three community leader-practitioners in Singapore and the Philippines who shared on their ministerial struggles, practices and visions. We suggest that churches can take the lead to engender an ecclesiological praxis of inclusivity by being (i) spaces of support, belonging and dignity for LGBT and PLHIV; and (ii) avenues for fostering dialogue with LGBT and PLHIV to articulate God’s inclusive love.

Frederike van Oorschot

Abstract

This article examines how public theologians aim to bring their theology into the practice of the church. In the first part it analyses the references to the church in the work of contemporary public theologians from the United States and Germany and suggests four different categories for the relations explored (explicit function, implicit function, public church, church as public). In the second part, it discusses three systematic aspects of these relations. First, following Kuyper, it defines the term ‘church’ more accurately. Second, it offers insights into liturgical research in order to help to sharpen the places where and means by which the implicit shaping of individual ethical behaviour in the church takes place, as exemplified in the work of Dirk Smit. Third, it discusses the task of pastors as mediators between church and theology.

Benyamin Intan

Abstract

Religious violence in Indonesia has its origins mainly in factors that are external to religion. One factor in particular is the striving for political power initiated by the Ministry of Religion wherein religion and the state seek to subordinate the other. Within the Pancasila-based state religions have been enabled to live together in peace and harmony; opportunities have been created in which each religion can play an active role in the public sphere. This principle allows all religions and beliefs to function in public life. In a society like Indonesia a civil society—and how a particular religion functions—must begin with the reality of religious diversity. On this foundation a ‘public religion’ in the service of a civil society has the potential to be a transforming and liberating power necessary for democratic socio-political life.

Darren Cronshaw

Abstract

Hunger Games are young adult fiction and movie franchises, which address issues of Empire, border control, politics of fear, human rights, gender, ethnicity, refugees and global inequity. The narrative of Hunger Games echoes the dilemmas of balancing personal sovereignty and self-fulfillment with the struggle that goes on for advocacy for social and political change. They make heroes of protagonists who rebel against the status quo and make a stand for justice in oppressive social-political contexts. The basic plot is ancient, but it is striking a chord with a generation of westerners who are disaffected with current societal and political trends. This article is a literary analysis of Hunger Games, analyzing its treatment of public theology, sovereignty and justice issues, especially for younger adults. It affirms the appeal of the books for resisting oppression, but questions unchallenged assumptions about ethnicity, gender, retributive violence and personal authenticity.

Ulrich Schmiedel

Abstract

As of 1 June 2018, the symbol of the cross has to be shown in all state offices of Bavaria in Germany. In order to chart the churches’ reaction, I return to a conversation that Robert N. Bellah and Martin E. Marty had during the 1960s and the 1970s. Drawing on the core concepts of this conversation, I analyze and assess today’s cross controversy as a case of what I call the ‘populist predicament’. I argue that Marty’s programme of public theology provides a path out of the populist predicament because it combines the celebration and the critique of identity. Ultimately, I advocate for a pluralist position of public theology in the post-migrant context.