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- Volume 40, Issue 1_2, 2012
Missionalia : Southern African Journal of Mission Studies - Volume 40, Issue 1_2, 2012
Volumes & issues
Volume 40, Issue 1_2, 2012
Author Maria Frahm-ArpSource: Missionalia : Southern African Journal of Mission Studies 40, pp 3 –6 (2012)More Less
Understandings of ''secular'', ''secularism'' and ''secularisation'' and how these concepts interact with faith and religion have changed over the past 2000 years. We have moved from the Medieval domination of the sacred in the public sphere to a contemporary world in which the secular, understood primarily as the non-religious, has come to exercise a position of power in the public discourse.
Author Gerrit BrandSource: Missionalia : Southern African Journal of Mission Studies 40, pp 7 –23 (2012)More Less
Harvey Cox suggested recently that he and several others have been proved wrong about the dwindling influence of religion on modern society. This retraction corresponds to similar developments in the social sciences. However it can be argued, more radically, that secularism must be understood as an ideology rather than merely a social development or state of affairs. The analysis leading up to this conclusion draws on some of Paul Tillich's insights to show that the very idea of a non-religious culture is incoherent. There is much to be said for Tillich's often challenged alternative usage of the terms mentioned, it can be argued, so that religion and belief in God are no longer to be regarded as optional but as essential parts of the human condition. In line with this suggested usage, the terms secular and secularisation should therefore be redefined in terms of the contrast secular-sacred rather that secular-religious.
Authentic faith in a "secular age'' : McCarthy and Lonergan on the dialectic between sacralisation and secularisationAuthor Gerard WalmsleySource: Missionalia : Southern African Journal of Mission Studies 40, pp 24 –63 (2012)More Less
The paper argues that the relationship between secularisation and sacralisation has to be understood dialectically. We have to accept the ''intellectual irreversibility of the Enlightenment'', for the secular is here to stay. But also religion is not going away. Hence, we have to struggle to live authentically in a complex ambiguous situation, with a plurality of faiths and secularisms. The key questions to be considered are: (a) What is meant by ''the secular age''? (b) How did we arrive at this secular age? (c) How do we respond authentically to this secular age? Following Lonergan, I argue that (a) there is a secularism to be welcomed, as well as a secularism to be resisted, and (b) there is a sacralisation to be discarded, as well as a sacralisation to be fostered.
Does an overtly Christian ethic have a role in the new secular world in the light of recent church teaching?Author Michael CzernySource: Missionalia : Southern African Journal of Mission Studies 40, pp 64 –76 (2012)More Less
Development used to mean increasing gross domestic product measured at the macro-economic level. Modern secular thinking, implemented in the United Nations Development Programme, supplanted this limitation with the human development approach. Its focal themes, presented in annual Human Development Reports beginning in 1990, echo concerns of the social encyclicals and papal New Year's messages on peace. However, the only basis for the "substantial freedoms" it promotes are intuition: access and choice are obviously desirable. Here, Christian anthropology - specifically, Catholic social doctrine since the late 19th century - provides a grounded account of full human dignity and integral development. Pope Benedict XVI comprehensively and profoundly articulates this ethic in his 2009 encyclical Caritas in veritate, in which he suggests five competencies for building the human future sketched by the UNDP and revealed in God's plan: (1) realistic analysis of present difficulties; (2) articulation of fundamental values and vision; (3) new responsibilities embraced with confidence; (4) profound cultural renewal; and (5) commitment to engagement, collaboration and solidarity. The next steps for humanity are being encouraged by the church as it embarks on a new evangelization to counter the aggressive secularism that has taken many away from the Christian sources of fundamental human dignity and destiny.
Source: Missionalia : Southern African Journal of Mission Studies 40, pp 77 –104 (2012)More Less
It is said that rapid economic growth promotes secularisation. South Africa recently joined the BRIC group of developing countries and signs are emerging of rapid economic growth in Africa. The article examines this new context to propose pastoral responses in theology and ministries. An examination of the Christian response to industrialisation leads to key themes of Catholic social teaching, Catholic Action movements and Christian schools. Based on these, examples of possible faith responses to secularism within new emerging economies are proposed. They include building on the Christian development history in Africa, promoting ethical leadership using the example of our religious formation programmes and utilising Christian tertiary education institutions in Africa in promoting faith-based development solutions.
On the secularisation of the image of God : the resurgence of the human dignity debate in contemporary bioethics discourseAuthor G.M. SsebunnyaSource: Missionalia : Southern African Journal of Mission Studies 40, pp 105 –118 (2012)More Less
Recourse to the concept of human dignity in contemporary bioethics most notable for its pragmatic ambiguity, particularly as an argument stopper. Indeed, lack of conceptual clarity has characteristically inflamed both sides of the debate as to whether the notion of human dignity has any relevance in today's principlism-dominated bioethics. In fact, arguments about human dignity are usually emotive gut feelings and lacking in rational conceptual analysis (Hailer and Ritschl 1996:94). Remarkably, the debate on human dignity traverses cultures and many other arenas of contemporary moral discourse, besides Western bioethics. What emerges from this diverse discourse on human dignity is that there is a critical need for conceptual clarity of the notion of human dignity itself that can transcend contemporary moral relativism (Pellegrino 2008a:xii).
In this article, therefore, I focus on the conceptual clarity of the notionof human dignity in contemporary bioethics discourse, and examine the resurgence of the debate as to its relevance today. I will particularly explore the implications of the modern philosophical secularisation of human dignity and re-appraise the, arguably, inextricably religious roots of the concept. So, let us first examine the modern philosophical conceptualisation of the notion of human dignity.
Author Rodney MossSource: Missionalia : Southern African Journal of Mission Studies 40, pp 119 –131 (2012)More Less
Augustine of Hippo was the first Christian thinker to seriously address the relationship between the sacred and secular realms within the Christian dispensation. The secular space was important for him and served a function independently of the sacred. In contrast to later historical developments where the secular was subsumed into a total medieval sacred society, Augustine saw value in secularity and freely used the learning and culture of the Greco-Roman world to expound Christian revelation. Indeed, a total Christian society prior to the eschaton would have been unimaginable to Augustine and would have been something he would have viewed with deep suspicion had he been able to do so. Since the Enlightenment the secular world has often, and more especially in contemporary times, been dismissive and even hostile to religion especially Christianity.
In a survey of contemporary approaches to the secular, three scholars' views will be presented: Charles Taylor, Jurgen Habermas and Joseph Ratzinger. In his survey of the rise of the secular age, Charles Taylor shows how in reaction to 'secular uniformity' (what he calls the ''omnicompetent code'') and attempts to eliminate various forms, he advocates instead a pluralistic, open society. Next, Habermas is shown to support what he terms 'communicative discourse' where the secularist and those of religious faith may learn to sympathise with a view contrary to their own. Augustine's view of the saeculum is shown in this paper to be still relevant to establishing a contemporary dialogue between the Church and secular society. Joseph Ratzinger sees philosophy as a dialogue partner for both secular and religious views and a means toward a universal process of 'purification' as he terms it. Philosophy can purify both the scientific and religious world views.
Augustine's contribution to a pluralistic, religiously neutral civil society is assessed. Augustine accepted in a very real sense the social, political and cultural pluralism of his world. The church must co-exist with the saeculum but Augustine's overall eschatological approach provides a corrective to any tendency towards a ''sacralization'' as it were of society and its institutions. There is always a critical scrutiny from 'beyond' as it were. No social order could ever be sacral and so beyond critical scrutiny. In the saeculum fallible humanity can seek only provisional solutions. Thus Augustine's acceptance of the secular based upon an assessment from 'beyond' implies the basis for a pluralistic, religiously neutral civil society. This is his great achievement. Augustine brings to the secular society a sensitivity for transcendence and yet a potential for liberation from present social and political idols. What could be more useful today or at any time?
Source: Missionalia : Southern African Journal of Mission Studies 40, pp 132 –153 (2012)More Less
Whereas secularism may be variously defined, it very simply may be described as any movement in society directed away from other-worldliness to life on earth. The church, to the extent that it is a human organization, exists in the world in the midst of secularizing forces. Sometimes, the church has perceived and confronted its own worldliness with respect to secular forces, but at other times it has failed to see how much its life and mission has been shaped by secular ideologies and, therefore, has not seriously confronted its depth in secularism. This latter failure appears to be especially so in the Pentecostal-Charismatic movement that began in the early twentieth century and has become a fundamental force in African Christianity, especially in Nigeria. Many in this tradition identify God's blessings with material prosperity and healing from ailments. The ways in which these concerns of the Pentecostal-Charismatic movement have affected African Pentecostalism have not been sufficiently pursued. African core values of simplicity, frugality, community, respect for elders, morality, hard work, dignity of labour, to mention but a few, have been significantly reshaped and remodelled to make the Pentecostal-Charismatic offers relevant to the faith of worshipers. And this has been done through the powerful instruments of colonialism, neo-colonialism, westernisation, capitalism, globalisation and empire. Pentecostalism has seriously secularised African traditional values through all of these means. Most interesting is the way in which these values, so secularised, have found hermeneutical justifications as the will of God, over against traditional sensitivities. The nature of the Christian faith and the activities of the church have been greatly reshaped by these values in ways that seem not to be in keeping with Christian faith and the intuitive beliefs of Christians. One of these reshaped values is individualism, whose resultant effects require evaluation. This is attempted in this paper, and the success or otherwise of the evaluation depends on whether the secularist presuppositions are recognised and appreciated.
Author Robert AshSource: Missionalia : Southern African Journal of Mission Studies 40, pp 154 –163 (2012)More Less
Jewish emancipation in late 18th century Europe had a profound impact upon Jewish society, prompting reform of religious practice and the emergence of three denominations: Reform, Conservative and Orthodox. Many Jews found the rationalist universalism and secularism of European intellectual life irresistible. A significant number of Jews abandoned traditional religion.
This paper examines a small but influential Jewish ''response to modernity'', Reconstructionism, which emerged in America in the twentieth century. Reconstructionism is a uniquely American Jewish sectarian movement which bases its ideology upon the writings of Mordecai Kaplan (1881-1983). Regarded by some as atheistic, Reconstructionism is nuanced and some of its ideas have precedent in Jewish philosophy. Reconstructionism embraces a theology described as naturalist (or ''transnaturalist''). Supernaturalism - a transcendent being ('God') - has been discarded as a relic of pre-modern thought.
This paper questions whether the appeal of Reconstructionism is its theology, since its appeal may depend upon factors common to all liberal Judaisms, e.g. ethics and social justice, and egalitarianism. With regard to theology, the paper scrutinizes Reconstructionism in the light of philosophical criticisms of theism. Does Reconstructionist theology represents a contemporary form of deism and to what extent does the influence of the Holocaust impact on Reconstructionist theodicy?
European missionary attitudes, Chinese culture, and colonial discourse in A.J. Cronin's The keys of the kingdomAuthor Frederick HaleSource: Missionalia : Southern African Journal of Mission Studies 40, pp 164 –184 (2012)More Less
Although A.J. Cronin's best-selling novel of 1941, The keys of the kingdom is one of the most accomplished examples of missionary fiction in English literature, it has been the subject of very little scholarly analysis. In the present article, steps are taken towards filling this lacuna by analysing Cronin's European and Chinese characters against the backdrop of colonial discourse theory. It is demonstrated that the normative dualistic categories of for example good vs. evil and cultural progress vs. primitivism cannot be applied to this novel. Cronin created a gallery of complex characters who embody diverse qualities, some of which run counter to the assumption that Occidental literature has been a conscious and unconscious justification for imperialism. In the case of the ecumenically minded Cronin, this is further underscored by his endorsement of certain elements of Chinese culture, not least parts of its philosophical-religious heritage.