Religion without Ulterior Motive (Studies in Reformed Theology)
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In the Caribbean region, the development of an emancipation theology with its call for decolonization of received Christian religious faith and the challenge posed by a Rastafarian hermeneutical key constitute major elements of the theological enterprise. Is it possible to avoid, in such a context, religion without ulterior motive? Daniel Antwi, professor of theology in Kingston, Jamaica, is aware of the dangers, but 6 eddy van der borght sees no other way forward than to address this contextual challenge.
He is convinced that a theology developed around the notion of grace will make it possible to avoid the pitfalls of instrumentalized religion. Africa has witnessed various waves of contextualization of theology since the s.
James Kombo, senior lecturer of systematic theology at Daystar University in Nairobi, Kenya, describes African inculturation theology, African black theology, African liberation theology and African women theology. But especially in the West, a suspicion exists that the contextualization enterprise is itself driven by ulterior motives.
Religion without Ulterior Motive
Is contextualisation possible without ulterior motives? Martien Brinkman, professor of ecumenical theology at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam and successor of Bram van de Beek as director of IRTI, explores the baptismal paradigm as a valuable model for the process of dying and rising with Christ, not only of each individual believer, but also of each culture in the process of contextualization of the Gospel. The notion was propagated that Jews should not stand aloof from society in their own religious and social traditions, but should participate fully in local social and cultural life.
That would be better for Judaism as a living community and for the whole of society as well. Jews had an enormous amount to contribute to the well-being of all people, since they had a lot of experience in the administration of justice and in community building. This movement became very strong in Judaism. Even in , Jewish author Ernst Kahler argued that German Jews should not oppose German politics, but should participate fully in German society, in such a way that they would be both better Germans and more motivated citizens. In the context of the nineteenth century, such a plea for inculturation meant a plea for progress, as this concept was central in nineteenth century thought.
Thus these Jews argued for religion allied to progress. Religion is an end—or rather, the end— in itself.
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To have any other aim in religious life is nothing less than blasphemy. Orthodox Jews are very sensitive to this risk. The dietary laws of Judaism are a good example of this notion: some people argue that these laws are good because they promote health; thus, observing the law promotes good health.
Heschel says that these laws are about religion and cannot be transferred to another domain. The moment such a transfer takes place, the laws lose their religious character. This statement seems tenable, and perhaps even self-evident, for all those who know what religion really is. But we must view the consequences of accepting this statement—and I think these logical consequences may come as a shock to many people, especially many contemporary Christians. If religion is its own end, it means we cannot use any arguments to promote our religion. We cannot argue that Christian faith is better than other religions, for the moment we use such an argument—for instance, the argument that Christianity creates the most just society, more so than other world views or religions—then a just society is put above faith.
Any such argument makes faith inferior, turning it into a second-level issue. We are Christians only because we are Christians, and not because there is a good argument for being Christians. Faith is similar to the deepest human relations. We accept our children just because they are our children and not because they have characteristics that are better than those of other children, of course our children may 3 S. Frank, O. Manekin, eds The Jewish philosophy reader London: Routledge, , Obviously, for Christians, Christianity is better than any other religion, but that statement is the consequence of their being Christians and is not the cause of the worth of Christianity.
Thus the proposition that religion should be without any ulterior motive has far-reaching consequences for apology and missiology. But Hirsch digs deeper. It is not blatant opportunism that he wishes to oppose. He distrusts any tendency to use religion for other aims. You cannot use faith as an instrument in order to gain something. If you do so, religion is soon delivered to the whim of the day of any person who can use it to serve his or her own interests.
In this respect, Hirsch fully agrees with another Jew, Paul. But that is a consequence, not the aim of godliness. What both Paul and Hirsch refute is an instrumentalisation of faith. And it is precisely that danger that arises in our functionalist age. We are inclined to use anything and anyone as a means to an end.
That is also the case with religion. This grandstanding may be obvious— nevertheless, it works. It can also be more subtle, as is usual and useful in The Netherlands. Politicians speak about the important role of churches in the development of norms and values. Not only the Christian Democrats do this, but so do conservative liberals and labour politicians.
You cannot use religion for to generate values. Nor can you use it to determine ethics. Certainly, faith has ethical 10 abraham van de beek consequences and creates high values of life; as Paul says, godliness gives great gain. But you cannot use this as an argument for the uses of religion. These consequences are not faith itself, and far less are they the aim or purpose of faith.
The aim of faith is God alone—and nothing besides God. God will not give his glory to something else Is ; ; —25 , not even to ethics. Alliances are Attractive Nevertheless, instrumentalisation has been the dominant culture in theology during the last centuries, and especially during the second half of the twentieth century. This approach to theology is the theological equivalent of the functionalist culture of the modern West that is increasingly dominant in a globalising world. Liberation theology Liberation theology is a clear example of religion with a goal.
That goal is not God and his service, but political and economic liberation. Instead, I would like to focus on the fact that religion is used to accomplish this political change. True religion, as conceived by Hirsch, is interested in material and social issues, but never in such a way that it makes these issues the core of religion. It must be clear that they are relative, second- or even third-level questions. This does not mean we should retreat from the world into religious mysticism.
Both orthodox Judaism and Christianity are very sensitive to everything that happens in the world. They also know these facts are so deeply rooted in humankind that we cannot change them by ideologies or change our world into the utopias we strive for. Thus New Testament authors do not discuss the issues of abolishing slavery Eph —9; Col. They plead for just relations in slavery, but not for its abolition. However, Paul argues that women must behave according to the customs of contemporary society. In this case, he even agrees with Peter, who says that the glory of women is in simplicity of dress and behaviour and submission to their husbands.
By acting in this way, they can show that they are really free and have higher interests than emancipation or a public life. They feel and felt uneasy with people who do not strive to gain something. Therefore they suppose that there must be something very perverted and hidden in the subculture these people belong to. Other people do not understand, and therefore they blame and persecute. Currently, the concept of liberation is dominant in mainstream contemporary Christianity.
All the energy of the world community is directed to changing the world for the better. My main problem with this is not that this approach does not help very much it is debatable whether it has helped so far or not and that it soaks up a lot of resources, but that it is a denial of the core of Christianity. Their opponents did not understand that. They noticed that Christians knew very well what was going on in the world—and that Christians rejected it.
The early Christians criticised ancient society. But people in the ancient world did not understand why and how. There is a beautiful, explicit example that casts some light on the discussion. The Hellenistic philosopher Celsus wrote that Christians criticised society. Therefore he challenged them to participate actively in administration, in order to change things for the better.
Origen, in his answer in Contra Celsum, refused the invitation, saying that the Christians have a better King to serve. If we have capacities for leadership, we will employ these in the church, and even there with circumspection, for power easily perverts. It meant total submission to the will of God as King of our lives, and not an expectation of changing the world into a new society.
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How can you be concerned with changes in the world when this world has lost its kairos and we are living in Christ, who shares our lives? Religion was seen as a means for political power, both by Catholics under the leadership of Schaepman and by Neo-Calvinists with Kuyper as their leader. Even in his own time, Kuyper was reproved by theologians such as Gunning who opposed his striving for power. It is obvious that neither the World Council nor Kuyper rose or could rise to the standards of true religious life that are posited by both Hirsch and Origen.
It should also be clear that this does not mean that Christian faith is not about freedom. Both the New Testament and the church fathers and Reformers, in fact, the entire Christian tradition, teach that Christ brings us to freedom. Origen in J. Migne, Patrologia Graeca. Paris: Garnier, , In short, he is accused of being merely a liberation theologian and not a theocrat!
I am not sure that this critique of Kuyper is valid. The theocratic ideal implies a close relation between faith and society in all its manifestations, including culture and the state. It is an exact expression of what Hirsch calls religion allied to progress.
Theocracy makes religion dependent on the state, on culture or the shape of society. Actually, these elements of the human world become idols which obscure the true God. They stand for and promote a longing for earthly power, while early Christianity was averse to any worldly power. We can conceive of the development of national states in Europe since the sixteenth century and later in the USA as a combination of liberation theology and theocracy. Both ideologies are combined in a powerful concept of a nation that is given or even elected by God.
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Kuyper, Souvereiniteit in eigen kring, 3rd ed. Kampen: Kok, , This seems to be a strong argument for my position. We should not develop a theology that supports exclusivism and suppression. I agree we should not do so. But that is not my argument. For if it were my argument, ultimately it would be precisely an argument whereby faith is again submitted to an end.
We must not proclaim the autonomy of faith because it prevents people from becoming oppressive, but for its own sake alone. Making people free from oppression is not an argument for faith, but the consequence of faith. That would, however, be to misunderstand the argument totally. Preachers from the USA bring their gospel to Latin America, proclaiming that if people convert to their kind of religion, they will prosper, they will have good luck and even healing in life.
They call on people to become Christians in order to gain something by doing so. They are precisely the kind of preachers Paul warns Timothy against. Their message is attractive but, from the perspective of true faith, it is a lie. Classic pietism is not quite as obvious in its desire for gain. I am the true godly person. I am pious because God is enough for me. Christians are Good for Society In conclusion: we believe in God, only because we love and honour God, and not for any other aim or to promote any alliance.
That does not mean that our faith has no impact on our life on earth. Justin Martyr has worked that out when he argues in his Apology10 that Christians are better citizens. We must be very careful here. Justin does not use his argument for apologetic ends. He does not say: you should become a Christian because that will be better for society. That is against everything that moves early Christianity.
His argument is only a counter-argument against those who say that Christians are a danger to society and a perverted people. We are not, he says. We do not lie, we do not kill, we do not steal. You can trust us, precisely because we do not have worldly interests. So, if we claim that we serve the Lord only for his own sake, it follows that we live in love and compassion with other people, precisely because we do not have anything to gain from them.
Second, we are not dependent on what happens in the world. We do not fear those who can kill the body. We fear God, who has the ultimate power to decide about our being. We do not fear persecution or suppression. We do not depend on possessions. We depend only on the Lord. Therefore we have no need to change the state or societal structures. On the other hand, Christians striving for martyrdom were also condemned in early Christianity. Martyrdom would also imply an alliance, as if the relation with the Lord was dependent on martyrdom.
That is not a plea for theocracy. Early Christianity rejects divine claims by the government. That is precisely one of the reasons for their persecution. Paul says in Romans thank God there is a government and that we can at least live in the pax Romana. Of course, this is not the kingdom of God. But God shows his grace to us by preserving us in peace. That is better than revolt and civil war—as some Jews were already discussing at that time. That is the position of early Christianity, and of the greatest authors of later church history. We know life on earth will not be easy.
That will, however, not jeopardise Christian life. For the core of it is the meditatio futurae vitae, that means our being in Christ in his life in heaven. The only presence of God is in Christ and therefore in the proclamation of the Word and the celebration of the sacraments that are the memory of Christ. How Calvin thinks about Christian life and thus Christian ethics and the state can be illustrated by two chapters of his Institutes.
There, the core concept is humility. There he speaks in line with New Testament paraenesis, advocating endurance, patience and love. In the 11 W. Waszink, W. Haarlem: Tjeenk Willink, , Here the core concept is not humilitas but aequitas. That is precisely why the government must bring balance in society. We must be grateful if we have a government that can do so. If we have an opportunity to contribute to it, we should do so. But we should not contribute to government for the cause of theocracy, but merely for the sake of earthly balance.
Aequitas is needed precisely because the government is not divine. Calvin refutes kings who make absolute claims. Precisely in order to avoid a situation where religion is allied to earthly power, we need a shared leadership by wise people. Calvin is not a democrat, for he is aware of how easily the masses can be moved by wicked leaders. Calvin always searches for balance. But even if society is not in balance, our faith is not dependent on such balance. Even then they must not act with violence, but only seek to convince the other powers of the need for change.
Conclusion That we must serve the Lord without any ulterior motive is a notion deeply rooted in Jewish, and thus Christian, religion. Van der Borght ed. Balke, Calvijn en de doperse radicalen Amsterdam: Ton Bolland, , 59— And it is good to be near Him. The logical consequence of this is that true godliness can only become clear if you lose everything without any reason. That is the test the book of Job tells us about. But even in that extreme case, Job held fast to the Lord as the only judge. And he was right. Tetelesthai Jn Job did not know about what happened in heaven.
He simply experienced his unjust fate. It is meant to be painful. Therefore orthodox Christianity does not promote an ideal of poverty. If poverty were to be the expression of true godliness, we could again claim and manipulate our relation to God. But we can be grateful for every day that we are not submitted to a test like that which Job had to endure.
God is good to us, by not making our burden too heavy. But at the moment that a dark fate overtakes us, ultimate godliness is to endure joyfully, as Hebrews says. We serve the Lord for nothing, as the book of Job says That is as far as human beings are involved. God loves us for no reason or gain. God did not elect us because of qualities in ourselves.
Even if we are faithless, God will remain faithful. God cannot disown God self 2Tm It is the other way around: in order that the grace of God can come out, sin has to remain sin. We can never propagate sin as an ideal, just as we should not propagate poverty as an ideal. Sin is terrible. It is even more grievous to God than to us. The problem is precisely that we do not take it as seriously as God does. God is tested every day by humans, as Job was tested by God. Sinning seems to be our job—even our being. But it is exactly this being that God is faithful to—not for any reason in us.
They are horrible to both God and to godly people. Again it is a Jewish story that puts us on the track. He refused to be saved. He preferred to go to the gas chambers together with the orphan children he cared for. The godly dies together with his children. That is the deepest expression of human dignity. The holy God dies in a place of execution, together with sinners. That is the deepest expression of 20 abraham van de beek divine glory. That is the King of the Jews Mk ; Mt. We cannot explain why it is that way. Why could God not create a perfect world?
Discussions like that involve fruitless speculation. According to both Irenaeus and Calvin, we should reject that kind of curiosity. We only have to deal with one reality: the reality of this God, this creation and these people He elected to be loved to the last. We cannot understand it. God is just as He is. He is who He is.
He is—that is the only reason to glorify Him. Dirkie Smit Does the Christian faith mean that believers have to trust God without any ulterior motive except—what?
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Does the Christian life call believers to serve God without any ulterior motive except—what? Does the Christian hope imply that believers should wait and meditate on the future life without any ulterior interest or present involvement except— what? And what would the implications of such Christianity without ulterior motive be for what is currently often called the public church and public theology? Would this imply that all activities of being public church and all forms of public theology are betrayals of the Christian faith because they are necessarily founded on ulterior motives and serving ulterior interests?
This is indeed the heart of the Gospel. Together, these basic convictions of early Christianity weave a pattern that is very familiar, although others would express it in many diverse ways and forms. It is actually the rhetorical point that the author wants to make through these pericopes, as theological commentators through the centuries have seen and underlined. Since the author has already been urging the readers to teach and obviously to practice what is consistent with sound doctrine.
For the grace of God has appeared bringing salvation to all and training believers to live lives in the present age that are consistent with this grace received —13 while they are waiting for the manifestation of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ After all, He gave himself for us that he might redeem us from all iniquity and purify for himself a people of his own zealous for good deeds The believers should be reminded to be subject to rulers and authorities , should be ready for every good work , should speak evil of no one , should avoid quarreling and show courtesy to everyone In his commentary on Titus, Calvin underlines several of these familiar features.
Paul distinguishes two parts of doctrine. Since God does not despise even the lowliest and most degraded of people, it would be extremely foolish, Calvin argues, should we be slow and negligent to embrace this divine goodness. Although some, however, profess religion, nothing is further from their thoughts than their duty to serve this gracious God—which is why meditation on the heavenly life becomes so important for us after our regeneration. Titus, In short, believers are also called to practice such unconditional loving-kindness—without ulterior motive.
According to Calvin, this is totally unmerited and therefore without ulterior motive. Some foolish people argue that God has regard for our future merits when God thus loves and saves us, so that God is ultimately motivated and moved by our merits rather than by his own freedom to accept, love, forgive and save, in other words, so that there is a hidden, ulterior motive at work.
Gerrish, Grace and Gratitude Minneapolis: Fortress, Ridderbos, Paul. An Outline of his Theology, tr. See also his commentary on Titus, De pastorale Brieven. Kampen: J. It goes without saying that this twofold relationship of the church to the world in which it lives must also determine its ethical conduct. The young Christian churches were thereby faced with all kinds of problems. See for example also A. Weiser, Die gesellschaftliche Verantwortung der Christen nach den Pastoralbriefen. Stuttgart: W. Kohlhammer, with literature. The history of the church is the history of these diverse traditions of understanding the implications of this one Gospel of Jesus Christ in so many contexts and cultures.
In their attempts to live—in freedom and holiness—only from the motives behind this evidence and pattern of the Gospel and not from any other ulterior motive, the church has almost always failed, as this history only too painfully shows. At least four clusters of questions have been of continuous importance. If they should worship God simply because God is God, without any motive, reason or explanation, does this then justify all and any kind of religious conviction—including fanaticism and fundamentalism? And if they should worship God because God is a particular God, does this not lead to ulterior motivation—to worship as self-serving and self-interest, based on argumentation, persuasion or alien appeal?
The history of the church is a history of disagreement on this question and of disagreements on the nature of God—and both the creedal tradition confessing God as Trinity, God-for-us, as well as 36 Ridderbos, Paul, Second, even if God is Triune, and therefore for-us, is it then really necessary for believers to mirror this divine goodness and loving-kindness towards them in their relationships with others, or are they only receivers of this unconditional love, and not also called to practice this love themselves?
Does this faith involve works; does this doctrine call for ethics; does this hope become action—or not? Third, even if believers are indeed called to mirror this divine goodness and loving-kindness towards others, what does this concretely imply? If the admonitions of the Pauline Epistles are mere illustrations, calling for ongoing spiritual discernment through the centuries, how does the church do this? Even should this question be answered by appealing to basic notions embedded in the Gospel story and its authoritative reception and proclamation—love, peace, justice, compassion, freedom, forgiveness, acceptance, and healing—then the debates simply continue over the questions about what these basic notions may concretely mean.
How do we practice love, serve peace, do justice, and proclaim freedom in concrete situations? Finally, even if there may grow some degree of agreement on how these basic notions may translate into more practical social, economic and political ideals—freedom from slavery and oppression? If they do not serve salvation in a strict sense of the word, then why are they necessary at all? Are they not all perhaps mere forms—albeit very subtly hidden behind common civility and commonly accepted public opinion—of ulterior motives, confused with no ulterior motive—and public theology?
These four kinds of questions always accompanied the church. According to H. Calvin himself is known for his humanism—not only in the biographical and historical sense that he was a humanist scholar, trained in humanist traditions and applying humanist intellectual practices in his scriptural hermeneutics and rhetorical theology, though all of these are certainly also true and very important, but also in the moral and ethical sense, that he took humanity, human beings, very seriously.
For them, Calvin portrayed Jesus Christ as Mediator, as prophet, priest and king for our salvation and making us also prophets, priests and kings. See, for example, the discussion of the rhetorical functions of the Institutes in S. For them, he organized public social services, hospitals and medical care, schools and education. We discover the real nature of human beings and of ourselves revealed to us in the face of God, in Jesus Christ, in the Gospel, and in Scripture. Fuhrmann Richmond: John Knox, Bieler Richmond: John Knox, , 8. Only then does this solidarity also become visible and concrete in many other social relationships—between man and woman, in the family, in societies, nations, states, and in the complex economic and political orders.
Communion in Jesus Christ abolishes or surmounts all sociological divisions which separate human beings and destroy the harmonious life of society. In Christ there is no longer man and woman. Only the daily intervention of Christ can restore which by nature is divided. The same happens—for example—with work relations. In Christ there is no longer slave or free. Authentic Christians rise above their natural environment and meet their brethren without any kind of discrimination.
The same is true with national relations. The diversity of national characters is social wealth and a resource to be cultivated. As nationalism violates human society, it is absolutely contrary and hostile to the Christian faith. In Christ there is no longer Jew or Greek. This means that in the bosom of the universal communion of Christians all national antagonisms are abolished. A foreigner in a local Christian community is to be welcomed there as brothers and sisters. Religious nationalism shows up each time that we set up our country as a sacred value and identify the cult of our ancestors or of our nation with Christian worship.
The authenticity of a Christian church is to be tested in the light of her spiritual judgment in this matter. It goes without saying that the abolition of divisions between races is a characteristic of all authentic Christian communities. The restoration of social bonds in the church includes the relation between rich and poor. If this does not happen, the spiritual fellowship which these individuals seek is a pure religious illusion and a dangerous deception.
This is the truth about both the identity and the calling of the church, however fragmented. The church is called to proclaim, embody and witness publicly and actively to this Gospel, according to Calvin. For him, the answers to these four controversial questions were therefore fairly clear. Christians worship this particular God—the Triune Father, Son and Holy Spirit, revealed to us in his divine face of mercy and loving-kindness. In his face, we also learn to know ourselves, both who we are and who we are called to be, we learn to understand and practice real humanity together.
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This conviction is well presented in the authoritative and informed study of Philip W. Butin, Revelation, redemption and response. It fans out into all the rich and complex spheres of human life together, and—precisely for that reason—the historical and contextual debates about them are so Bieler, The Social Humanism of Calvin, 20— Oxford: OUP, Gerrish, Grace and Gratitude. Minneapolis: Fortress, Believers following Calvin would never be able either to align themselves enthusiastically with ulterior motives— self-interest, power, greed, nation, race, status—or to become cynically withdrawn, skeptically ascetic in a world seemingly too complex to discern together the good and acceptable and perfect will of this God of mercies.
The internal debates about these practical complications always continued. Barth, The humanity of God. Thomas , He wants in His freedom actually not to be without humanity but with them and in the same freedom not against them but for them, and that apart from or even counter to what human beings deserve. In this divinely free volition and election, in this sovereign decision the ancients said, in His decree , God is human. Barth, The humanity of God, And this is the act of compassion to which all these parables as parables of the Kingdom of heaven refer.
The very One who speaks in these parables takes to His heart the weakness and the perversity, the helplessness and the misery, of the human race surrounding Him. He does not despise human beings, but in inconceivable manner esteems them highly just as they are, takes them into His heart and sets Himself in their place. In the mirror of this humanity of Jesus Christ the humanity of God enclosed in His deity reveals itself. Much theological work still needs to be done before unity can be attained — helped by, at any rate, a different type of theology.
Societal theology A more promising type of theology is executed by those theologians who explicitly want to contribute to society. It deals with societal questions and with the question how religious beliefs and religious communities can contribute in overcoming the oppositions that divide people, such as white versus brown and black; dominant versus dependent; poor versus rich. Its aim is to contribute to a just and peaceful society. It can have different faces, such as a focus on discriminatory attitudes in church and society, on the development of outreach programs by churches, and on the empowerment of people from previously and still!
Their commonality is that they explicitly want to contribute to the development of the new society. In this kind of theology, researchers from all backgrounds work together although we have to take into account that doing theology on an academic level in itself implies a specific place in society. This theology is future-directed and deals with concrete issues. It is a theology of hope that fits very well into the atmosphere of hope that many people in South Africa are looking for. It especially accommodates the present administration that is striving for a prosperous South Africa that can function as a guide for the whole of Africa.
It can be compared with mainstream protestant theology in the Netherlands in the fifties and sixties of the last century: after the war a new society had to be developed; a democratic and just society. It is a theology that is very much aware of challenges and obstacles; however, the people implementing it are convinced of their calling and, therefore, of the importance of their work. A theology of reconciliation Societal theology is so future-focused that it must be complemented by another type of theology: that of reconciliation.
Although reconciliation is reached with respect to the future, it is first of all directed towards the past. Reconciliation is an essential part of present South African consciousness, due to the work of the Truth and Reconciliation Committee led by Bishop Desmond Tutu. It seems self-evident that in Christian theology where reconciliation is also a core concept this awareness in society would be fully exploited as a service to the nation and as a task for which it is specifically equipped.
A tradition of thousands of years of reflection on reconciliation as a key concept might be a powerful contributor to a society that is so much in need of healing the past. Reconciliation is part of the debate, but it usually does not go beyond the limits of what is general in South African society. I think this is due to two factors. So there is a lack in the South African theological tradition. The second factor is that most people do not want to dwell too long in the past.
The past has been there long enough. The past is past and we have to look towards the future. In this perspective, reconciliation is taken for granted too much. Once the mistakes are uttered you should not come back to them. We have to enter the future hand in hand. Reconciliation now consists of old enemies working together, while actually reconciliation can only be possible if we have a shared story and, thus, story-telling of the past, in which all events that have shaped our identity are integrated. That is a much longer road to travel. A theology of criticism In my opinion South Africa is most in need of a critical theology that is, on the one hand, sensitive to developments in society and, on the other hand, keeps a critical distance towards them.
That distance should be a basic one, since theology is about God. Phaswana , ed. Email: djs1 sun. We're not around right now. But you can send us an email and we'll get back to you, asap. Dirkie J. Teaching Profile Graduate teaching is done with a view to theological education for the ministry in Protestant churches and on postgraduate levels students are free to pursue their own specific research interests.