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The Mission of the Church in the Transformation of European Culture
The scope of this volume is how churches experience themselves and their mission in their context. The discussions in this volume provide ample material to substantiate the claim that the church should not be an ecclesia incurvata in se ipsa, (a church curved into itself) but welcoming and directed not only to personal needs but to social needs as well—but not bound to what people often feel the needs are and delving deeper to the real roots of sin and selfishness, be it personal, social or national. Contextualization in itself is part of the mission of the churches, but it is on the edge: should the church adapt to its context and lose both its identity and witness or should it find a way between the Scylla of easy adaptation to the changing contexts of this world that is passing and the Charybdis of a preservation of forms and identities of bygone times that have lost the freshness of the message of liberation of bondage, conversion and freedom, freedom to be what the church is called to be, a sign of hope, peace, reconciliation, justice and love?
As academic subject African philosophy is predominantly concerned with epistemology. It aims at re-presenting a lost body of authentic African thought. This apparently austere a-historical concern is framed by a grand narrative of liberation that cannot but politicise the quest for epistemological autonomy. By “politicise” I mean that the desire to re-cover an authentic African epistemology in order to establish African philosophy as autonomous subject, ironically re-iterates Western, enlightenment notions of the autonomous subject. Here, in the pursuit of an autonomous subject the terms of historical oppression are necessarily duplicated in the terms of liberation. In this study I use the term disfigurement to refer to the double-bind - peculiar to post-coloniality - in which the African subject finds itself when it has to establish and affirm a sense of apartheid (in order to confirm the assumption of difference) by inventing its own autonomy in a way that ironically conflicts with an African conception of the autonomous subject. The transcendental concern with epistemological authenticity and autonomy - indicative of an oppressive desire for Western style autonomy - necessary as it may be in a post-colonial context, is placed in an ethical framework that seeks to remain faithful to the African dictum of identity and autonomy “I am because we are”. Whereas the first three chapters are concerned with the transcendental question ‘what is African philosophy?’, the fourth and last chapter situates the ethical framework within which this question arises in the context of the recently “completed” South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
Challenges for Mission in Early 21st Century
This important book is needed today. The challenges that Christian churches face have changed immensely in the last quarter-century. One of the central issues facing the churches everywhere in the world is their missionary presence in their nations and societies. The authors of this volume are among the world’s leading missiological thinkers and represent major Christian traditions in Europe, Africa, and North America.
In this new century, the Christian church faces new situations that include, for example, the fall of communism; the globalization of culture; cultural and religious minorities and multiple religious majorities in nearly every country; ethnic and interreligious tensions; relativism and individualism in Western culture; the rise of a global impact of a postmodern world view; poverty in poor countries and in urban areas in wealthy countries; and the decline of Western cultural authority and, with notable exceptions, of religious authority generally. This book speaks of ways in which Christian churches are seeking to respond to these challenges. The purpose of this book is to describe some of the main challenges facing the churches in mission today, particularly with reference to inter-religious conversations all over the world. The title of this volume has been derived from the theme of the 24th General Assembly of the World Alliance of Reformed Churches (WARC) at Accra in August, 2004 whose theme is, “That All May Have Life in Fullness.”
From Religious Studies to Interreligious Studies in Africa
On 7 August 1998 the American embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam were bombed and 200 people lost their lives. These bombings shattered the image of Africa’s tradition of peaceful religious coexistence. Since then inter-religious dialogue has been high on the agendas of ecclesial and religious organisations, but not so much of faculties of theology and departments of religion in East Africa. This book investigates why this is so. How are interreligious relations dealt with in Africa, and more particularly, how are they and how should they be taught in institutions of higher learning? This book is based on fieldwork in Nairobi from 2001 onwards. It shows why Africa’s tradition of peaceful co-existence is not going to help Africa in the 21st century, and recommends a shift in the education in inter-religious relations: from religions studies to inter-religious studies.