This article discusses the potential of a Trinitarian approach to theology for constructing a public theology in the context of the immense social, political, economic, environmental, cultural, sexual and health challenges of (South) Africa. Theology engages with the three publics of academy, society and church in order to enhance a flourishing life for all humans and the rest of creation. Sallie McFague's Trinitarian planetary theology is investigated. It is argued that her portrayal of God—as the one who: creates us in God's image; liberates us from all enslavements; provides for our spiritual and material needs; saves us from personal and institutional sin and renews humans, churches, nature and society—offers guidelines for constructing a Trinitarian public theology on African soil.
Written originally as a response to the second of two papers delivered by William Storrar at the University of Pretoria in 2008, this article aims to clarify his view of doing public theology in a global era. His approach is described as affirmation of the inherent public content, public rationality and public significance of Christian faith. His use of the notion of ‘public’ is also discussed, with reference to the work of Dirkie Smit, as is his emphasis on both the local and global in a context of globalization. Storrar’s renewed use of middle axioms is described as an important contribution to public theology today, as is his notion of ‘neighbourhood saints’.
This article argues that the optimistic modern notion of perfect curing through rational scientific means as the aim of modern health sciences, as well as the postmodern notion of complete curing from suffering, tragedy and aporia through non-rational measures such as various forms of spiritual healing and exorcism, are inadequate models of healing. The article proposes the notion of caring as a more promising approach to healing. Caring entails being present with those in sickness, suffering and alienation, re-presenting God and the body of Christ to suffering people, and seeking justice for the downtrodden and wronged through an ethic of solidarity and risk. This protesting presence with suffering people as expression of caring in the midst of tragedy and aporia paves the way for penultimate experiences of curing.
This paper discusses the inherent public nature of Reformed theology and demonstrates how Reformed theology informed and enriched the discourses of black theology, liberation theology, and public theology in both apartheid and post-apartheid South Africa. Black, Reformed theologian Allan Boesak emphasized the reign of the Triune God in all walks of life. Reformed theologian John De Gruchy cherished the central notion in Reformed theology that God especially identifies with the poor, wronged, and most vulnerable. Finally, Reformed theologian Dirkie Smit demonstrates how Reformed theology assists the development of public theology by focusing, on the one hand, on the rich Christian confessional tradition, and on the other hand, by participating in pluralistic public debates on the basis of this rich tradition. Based on this discussion, some lessons for the development of public theology from the Reformed tradition are spelled out.
This paper argues that the Confession of Belhar 1986 articulates the story of the Triune God's work of justice, reconciliation, and unity. That story redeems the human stories of injustice, alienation, and division in South Africa. It transforms us into people who make new stories of justice, reconciliation, and unity. The story of Belhar serves as a staff for justice, reconciliation, and unity. The cry for justice, reconciliation, and unity is first outlined (1). Thereafter, Belhar's understanding of justice as compassionate justice (2), reconciliation as the overcoming of alienation between humans and God, and as the overcoming of estrangement among human beings, and reconciliation as embrace (3), and unity as unity in proximity (4) is discussed. Last, an appeal is made for the continued confession and embodiment of justice, reconciliation, and unity in and through churches as spaces of hope (5).
This essay argues that the faithfulness of the church in a world with so many vulnerabilities entails that she acknowledges her own vulnerability and frailty. This ecclesial vulnerability is based in the vulnerability of the triune God to whom she witnesses, as well as in the vulnerability of human beings. On the basis of this trinitarian and anthropological vulnerability, suggestions are made regarding the nature, attitude, and public calling of the church. As witnesses and disciples of Jesus Christ, the church has a threefold presence in public life; namely, to be vulnerable prophets, priests, and royals. A vulnerable church is a faithful church, and therefore, a relevant church.