Verbum et Ecclesia is a theological research journal that challenges traditional discourses within and between the fields of biblical, religious, social and human sciences as well as the constructive engagement with the natural sciences. It is an instrument of engagement between theological disciplines, on the one hand, and theology and other disciplines, on the other. This periodical is juridically connected to the Centre for Ministerial Development (Excelsus), located at the Faculty of Theology and Religion, University of Pretoria. English, Afrikaans and Sepedi are the languages of publication which makes the journal unique.


The Globethics library contains articles of Verbum et Ecclesia as of vol. 2(1981) to current.

Recent Submissions

  • Eschatological events in Matthew 24:1–15 and COVID-19 pandemic in Nigeria

    Chidinma P. Ukeachusim (AOSIS, 2023-08-01)
    Jesus in Matthew 24 presaged to his disciples about the eschatological happenings that would prepare the world for his Parousia and the end of this age. Using the redaction exegetical approach of doing biblical research, this article focuses on interpreting the context of Matthew 24:1–15 to unveil the nexus that exist between the eschatological events Jesus prophesied in the Olivet Prophecy and the COVID-19 pandemic that ravaged the world with special reference to Nigeria. This study found out that the convulsive impacts of COVID-19 pandemic have similarities with the characteristics of the eschatological birth-pang events Jesus prophesied in Matthew 24:1–15. The study unveils the nexuses that exist between the eschatological events in Matthew 24 and COVID-19 and highlights the theological exhortations, warnings and commands that pre-equip Christians on how they are to respond to eschatological birth-pang events. Intradisciplinary and/or interdisciplinary implications: This study explored the nexuses that exist between COVID-19 pandemic and the eschatological events Jesus presaged in Matthew 24. The study highlights how Christians are to be responding to eschatological events.
  • Solitude in the multitude: A Christological response to loneliness in the Akan community of God

    Godibert K. Gharbin; Ernest van Eck (AOSIS, 2023-08-01)
    The amphibious Akan concept of community manifests both individualistic and communalistic features. An analysis of the individualistic features reveals that the Akans grapple with incarnating their values, leaving many ‘children of God’ lonely. John 5:1–18 presents a similar case in which a member of a ‘collectivistic community of God’ lived a secluded life until Jesus intervened, revealing that the community struggled with incarnating its sociocultural values. Thus, the study aimed to demonstrate how Jesus’ response provides a remedy for the Akan sociocultural malady. The study employed Ossom-Batsa’s communicative approach because it enables an interpretative framework that helps to achieve this aim: an exegesis of the text, an exegesis of reality and an engagement between the text and reality. The findings revealed that the individualistic propensities in Bethesda and the Akan community are the roots of loneliness in both cultures. The study concluded that the Akan Christians must be relational. This involves relating to one another as human beings: understanding that ‘a human being needs help’ and becoming the agent of that help. It also demands that they fulfil their moral obligation to perform their emancipatory role towards lonely members by prioritising reaching out to them and epitomising Christ’s compassionate and merciful nature by helping them to overcome their situations. Intradisciplinary and/or interdisciplinary implications: The communicative approach allows New Testament Studies to intersect with Akan anthropology and sociology and offers a new perspective on how to revitalise in the Akan culture a sense of communitarian egalitarianism plagued by individualism.
  • Nehemiah – Leader in times of crisis

    Hans-Georg Wünch (AOSIS, 2023-08-01)
    Times of crisis call for sustainable leadership. Often in Christian circles, (especially among Evangelicals), the biblical figure of Nehemiah is presented as a model of leadership from which one can learn directly how leadership can work today in our time and situation. This article has addressed the question of whether and how this is possible. In a first step, the author dealt with the hermeneutical question of how to derive teachings from biblical narratives and how to apply these teachings. In a second step, he examined a number of popular and scholarly articles and books dealing with Nehemiah and the topic of leadership. He critically examined three models and evaluated them on the basis of his hermeneutical considerations. It became clear that there are essentially three different approaches: 1. Many articles and books derive leadership principles more or less directly from the Book of Nehemiah. 2. Some authors first identify biblical principles, which they then illustrate with the person of Nehemiah. 3. One contribution is examined in which leadership principles based on sociological considerations are taken as a starting point, which are then concretised with Nehemiah. On the basis of the fundamental hermeneutical considerations, the author came to the conclusion that only models 2 and 3 are possible approaches to the question. Intradisciplinary and/or interdisciplinary implications: This article moves between Old Testament and Leadership Studies. It is therefor by intention interdisciplinary. There are implications for the understanding of Old Testament narrative texts but also for Leadership Studies.
  • Universal justice: Poetic-affective criticism of Psalm 28

    Armand Barus (AOSIS, 2023-08-01)
    The central message of Psalm 28 has been successfully revealed by utilising poetic-affective criticism. Poetic-affective criticism is a new method in reading lament psalm by focusing on various aspects, such as lament, feeling, the concept of God and changes in textual mood. Applying poetic-affective criticism to Psalm 28 through the study of its various aspects (lament, feeling, the concept of God and changes in textual mood) enables us to find its central message. Universal justice is inherently embedded in the universe. Violation against this universal justice brings about self-destruction to those standing against it. Intradisciplinary and/or interdisciplinary implications: The conclusion reached by this article implies that there is a point of contact between Christianity and other religions. Non-Christian religions, though foggy and distorted, contain to a certain extent God’s Torah which was given to preserve the unity of society harmoniously thus creating an awareness of orderliness of the universe, and an appreciation that there is God who created and sustained the universe.
  • Corrigendum: African-initiated churches and environmental care in Limpopo, South Africa: A missional enquiry

    Kasebwe T.L. Kabongo; Juliane Stork (AOSIS, 2023-07-01)
    No abstract available.
  • Diakonaat en jeug in Afrikaanssprekende Gereformeerde gemeentes in Suid-Afrika

    Jacques W. Beukes (AOSIS, 2023-07-01)
    Diaconate and youth in Afrikaans-speaking Reformed congregations in South Africa. South Africa is characterised by various socio-economic and socio-political challenges (fractures) not easily met (or healed). ‘Fractures’ refer to social, economic, religious, spatial, ecological, environmental, and economic injustices and other issues. Within this context, the church is confronted with her vocation. The unique vocation of a congregation is that the members become a ‘new community’ (koinonia) in which they not only care for one another but also develop relationships featuring care for, and mercy and solidarity (diakonia) with the weak, poor, and marginalised in society. Several researchers prove that the current South African youth could be classified as vulnerable and marginalised. Since the church does not preach the gospel in a vacuum but in relation to specific human realities, the theme of the youth and diaconate in the Afrikaans-speaking Reformed churches in South Africa is examined in this study, based on Osmer’s Practical Theological Interpretation. Interdisciplinary and/or interdisciplinary implications: The interdisciplinary nature of this contribution is spread across the two fields of youth ministry and diaconate. The sub-disciplines of both the youth in general, and youth ministry and youth work within the academic discourse of the diaconate are studied, specifically in the Afrikaans-speaking Reformed denomination.
  • Isaiah 2:1–4 and insecurity in Nigeria: Towards building a non-violent society

    Cletus O. Obasi; Philip M. Igbo (AOSIS, 2023-07-01)
    Many societies in every era have engaged in efforts to resolve issues of insecurity and war and to create an environment for peace. Peace is a desirable value yearned for by many: but achieving peace is a difficult task. It is often marred by conflicts and wars, which militate against human and infrastructural development. Nigeria and many African countries are affected by conflicts and insecurity. During the period of Isaiah’s prophecy, people had their own leaps of conflicts and insecurity. Isaiah envisioned a world where people of all nations will reject war and adopt a non-violent approach to conflict resolution (2:1–4). He proposed Torah-Education and disarmament as a recipe to peace. Isaiah called for a rechanneling of the resources used in war into creating implements of agriculture for the well-being of humanity. Isaiah’s message of peace is quite ad rem to the realisation of security and peaceful co-existence in a multiethnic nation such as Nigeria. This article proposes a non-violent approach and peace education as a panacea to the problem of armed conflicts and insecurity in Nigeria. While the article does not negate the importance of defence and security, it calls for more investment in education and agriculture, which are key to human and infrastructural development. Intradisciplinary and/or interdisciplinary implications: This article discusses how the integration of non-violent approaches in the fight against terrorism will influence terrorists to submit to reason and the achievement of sustainable peace and development.
  • Beweeg van diakonaat van welsyn na herstellende geregtigheid: ’n Gevallestudie – COVID-19

    Janneke A. Marais (AOSIS, 2023-07-01)
    Moving from diaconate of well-being to restorative justice: A case study – COVID-19. During the COVID-19 pandemic in 2019, the Dutch Reformed congregation Toringkerk in Paarl longed to reach out to people within the local community who were in extreme need. The congregation felt powerless because of the containment and the extent of the need in poorer communities in Paarl. The general feeling was that networks should be set up in the local community, but no one knew how to start this. An innovative process of Diaconia (Service Group of the Western Cape Synod) and the Research Office (Western Cape Synod), called ‘Hidden Treasures’, was implemented to help the congregation with this. The result exceeded the congregation’s expectations. In this article, the methodology of the Hidden Treasures process is evaluated based on the Dutch Reformed Church’s intention to move from welfare to restorative justice. Suggestions are also made about how the methodology can be improved. Intradisciplinary and/or interdisciplinary implications: This study, born out of the 2020 pandemic, has the potential to fundamentally influence the missionary diaconate of congregations. The challenge that arose for the church regarding the missional question during the pandemic period about the need among individuals and families in local communities, drew some particularly important fields of study closer together, i.e. practical theology, diaconal studies, as well as social work, development studies and sociology.
  • Music in Christian worship in Nigeria in light of early missionary attitude

    Solomon O. Ademiluka (AOSIS, 2023-07-01)
    When the protestant Christian missionaries arrived in Nigeria in the 19th century, they disallowed native music as well as the use of musical instruments in the church because of the fear that these would encourage their converts to retain their heathen practices. However, today the solemn congregational hymns they introduced have been either supplemented or replaced with vibrant instrumental music in most churches. The article investigated the reasons why the missionaries banned instrumental music and assessed whether the musical innovations made by Nigerian Christians have hindered or helped the growth of Christianity. Applying the reader-oriented and phenomenological approaches, the article found that phases of musical adaptations in terms of indigenous genres, instruments and traditional and modern dance modes were introduced principally through the youth fellowship groups, indigenous choirs, the Aladura and the Neo-Pentecostal churches. While some critics have argued against these innovations, they have been found to have biblical support, particularly in the psalms. Among other advantages, the indigenous adaptations enhance interest in worship and cater for preferential musical tastes among worshippers. Most churches have come to value the new musical genres so much that they no longer can do without them during worship. Therefore, instrumental music has helped the growth and development of the church in Nigeria in several ways. Intradisciplinary and/or interdisciplinary implications: This research involves both the Old and New Testaments as well as Christian music. It holds that rather than being a hindrance to the Christian faith in Nigeria, instrumental music has helped its growth tremendously.
  • Mistakes of Western Christian missions in Africa and related response, mid-19th to 20th Century

    Mnyalaza T. Masuku (AOSIS, 2023-07-01)
    Attempts to Christianise Africa could be divided into three epochs. The first was 1st to 7th centuries in North Africa by the imperial Rome. The second was 15th to 16th centuries in West and East Africa by the Portuguese. During this epoch, I also included Central Africa during the 16th to 18th centuries. All these waves did not enjoy great success because of internal frictions in church during the first epoch and the wrangle between Calvinistic expansion against the Roman Catholic Church (RCC) during the second epoch. The focus of this article is located within the third epoch which is mid-19th and 20th centuries by Western churches and mission societies in Africa. Therefore, the author identified negative elements of colonial mission praxis in Africa and the African response. This article therefore seeks to critically assess the identified mission praxis and related responses. The identified responses will be divided into strategic and theological. With the understanding that the context has changed over the years, the author will thus conclude that the identified negative elements and responses could possibly be repeated if the church could be ignorant in her mission praxis today and going into the future. Intradisciplinary and/or interdisciplinary implications: As a challenge to current and future missions, this article unearths the wrongs committed by Western Christian missions in Africa and the responses from Africa. It has intra-disciplinary implications for ecumenism, mission studies and the history of the church in Africa.
  • Die verhouding tussen gemeentelike en institusionele diakonaat – ’n Geïntegreerde model

    Rudolph B. van Aarde (AOSIS, 2023-06-01)
    The relationship between congregational and institutional diaconate – an integrated model. In this study the relationship between the congregational diaconate or ministry of compassion and the professional institutionalised social services of church-based welfare organisations is researched. Although the study focusses on the developments within the Dutch Reformed Church, the distance or separation between these services seems to be a general tendency also in other church denominations in the South African and global context. After the promulgation of the Act on Non-Profit Organisations (Act 71 of 1997), the ministry of compassion in congregations and the professional social services of the church’s welfare organisations drifted apart to such an extent that the two ministries developed each in its own silo. This silo-development resulted in separate languages for service delivery with a great deal of terminology confusion. – an integrated model Intradisciplinary and/or interdisciplinary implications: After the introduction and remarks about the calling of the Church, it is attempted to clarify terminology in order to develop a common language. Currently this is a great need in the diaconal theology and ministry within the Afrikaans churches. In the last section a (new) integrated ministerial model is proposed to bridge the separation between the congregational and institutional diaconate. This integrated service model may serve as a guideline for the diaconate in congregations, as well as the broader church structures of presbyteries and synods. It is attempted in this study to bridge the gap between practical theology and social sciences.
  • Aristotle's philosophical influence on Western civilization, history and theology placed women in inferior positions

    M. Masango (AOSIS, 2003-11-01)
    This paper examines the influence of Aristotle on western civilization, and it explores how this line of thinking influenced religion from the point of view of its subordination of women. Then I examine how women were excluded from historical accounts and by this omission, were treated generally and regarded as inferior beings. Next I analyze the critical feminist reaction to this male patriarchal authorship, and then examined the research methods that patriarchal writers used with patriarchal reference to the “traditional model” (i e, male as a norm in society). I will finally examine certain oppressive scriptural passages, which oppress women and help men to regard them as property. The above concept helped feminist to research a new methodology of liberation, not only to liberate women but men as well.
  • Preface to the special issue ‘Sustainable leadership in times of uncertainty’

    Volker Kessler; Jennifer Slater (AOSIS, 2023-06-01)
  • Winning over a crisis: Understanding the ‘ποιεῖν’ in Matthew 7:24–27 from the nostalgia perspective

    Pelita H. Surbakti; Esther W. Andangsari (AOSIS, 2023-06-01)
    Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5–7 has played a pivotal role in the history of Christianity. Occupying a crucial place in Christianity, Matthew 7:24–27 was considered to be the closing entry, as well as the passage’s concluding remark. In the passage, Jesus emphasises the importance of the ποιεῖν [to do] in his teachings rather than merely hearing Him. What does the meaning of the word ποιεῖν truly entail? What exactly did Jesus hope to accomplish through the word for a community that was entrenched in deep crisis? Utilising the notion of nostalgia in psychology research, this article concluded that, through Jesus’ word ποιεῖν, He urged believers to lead a ποιεῖν lifestyle, in order to evoke personal nostalgia apropos of God. This personal nostalgia is then expected to build up the ‘inner resource’ of the gospel’s readers, so that they can face the various life crises, which were portrayed as three forms of natural phenomena. Thus, the conclusion was aligned with the notion of ‘God with us’, which became the main theme of this gospel. Intradisciplinary and/or interdisciplinary implications: This article demonstrates the role and benefits of empirical psychological research on nostalgia in understanding ποιεῖν in Matthew 7:24–27.
  • Kerklike tug: ’n ‘inhoudloze kerkordelijke aangelegentheid’ in ’n plurale kerk?

    Piet J. Strauss (AOSIS, 2023-06-01)
    Church discipline without content in a plural church? The Dutch theologian Leo Koffeman comes to the conclusion that church discipline is irrelevant and without content in a plural church. Such a church is the Protestant Church in the Netherlands (PKN). In its view on church life, a plural church is of the opinion that it should rather cater for people of different religious and ethical viewpoints. This approach is applied to a variety in beliefs and behaviour among members. According to this conviction, a difference in viewpoint enriches the members involved spiritually. The need for church discipline in order to keep the church obedient to its Head, Jesus Christ and His commands and to prevent members from opposing the beliefs in the church, is neither accepted nor advocated in a plural church. Against this line of thought, reformed churches like the Dutch Reformed Church in Southern Africa keep to reformed confessions like the Confessio Belgica and the Heidelberg Catechism. Through their General Synod they opt for these confessions as a biblically based norm for the church. By making these two documents part of their confessions, the Dutch Reformed Church confesses church discipline as a core issue in a truly reformed church. The difference between truly plural and truly reformed churches on discipline boils down to the difference between a humanistic and a Biblical point of departure. The author associates with the latter. Intradisciplinary and/or interdisciplinary implications: In this article, the ecclesiological implications of a reformed, modernistic and post-modernistic approach of life meet. The topic is church discipline: an ecclesiastical, ethical and church political issue reflected in the reformed confessions of faith referred to. A philosophical and ethical approach of church discipline is thus reflected.
  • The cloth of Elijah: Reimagining sustainable leadership in the context of uncertainty

    Thinandavha D. Mashau (AOSIS, 2023-06-01)
    Difficult times in the history of humanity, such as global pandemics, global wars, ecological degradation, drought, poverty and unemployment, require not just leadership, but sustainable leadership. Inspired by the leadership model of Nelson Mandela, this article sought to tap into the resourcefulness of the missional reading of 2 Kings 2:1–18 and use the leadership model of prophet Elijah to unpack what it means to be a sustainable leader in the context of uncertainty. Relying upon literature analysis and a missional reading of 2 Kings 2:1–18, this article concluded that sustainable leadership, taking after the model of prophet Elijah, has five distinctive features, that is, human, missional, mentorship, management of transitions, and transformation. Intradisciplinary and/or interdisciplinary implications: This article investigates the issue of sustainable leadership in the context of uncertainties such as global pandemics, global wars, ecological degradation, among others. It contributes to the disciplines of missiology and missional hermeneutics, biblical theology, and sustainability theories, in particular issues of Christian leadership.
  • Die diakonale reis van die Nederduitsch Hervormde Kerk

    Martin J. van Rensburg (AOSIS, 2023-06-01)
    Diaconal journey of the Dutch Reformed Church. The aim of this article is to look at the development of the deacon’s position in the Dutch Reformed Church of Africa by investigating the founding, development, and management of the deacon’s position in the church. It is not the purpose to investigate the deacon’s position from a Biblical exegetical point of view but rather to look at the historical development of structures such as the Algemene Diakensvergadering, Ondersteuningsraad whose name was later changed to RATA, the children’s homes which were later converted into the DPS homes and the old age homes which were restructured in the Ons Tuis Monument-tehuise. We shall attempt to look at the development of the deacon’s position, and also consider the developments that lead to the founding and phasing out of the deacons’ meetings, and Circuit deacons’ meeting, as well as the effect that had on the service delivery of deacons. A journey, therefore, examining the past along with the future. We shall take the lessons we have learned in the past and apply them to improve our endeavours in the future which have already commenced. Intradisciplinary and/or interdisciplinary implications: The article is intradisciplinary, since it combines different fields within Practical Theology, like, diaconate, ecclesiological studies, and family and youth ministry. It also attends to church history. It is intradisciplinary in its attention to social sciences, more specifically social work.
  • No wisdom, no future: The education factor in the sustainability discourse

    Bernhard Ott (AOSIS, 2023-06-01)
    In the context of the topic of sustainable leadership, this literature study addresses the relationship between education and sustainability. While in the literature this connection is mostly discussed in terms of education for sustainability, or sustainability in education, this study shows that education and sustainability are essentially interrelated at an even deeper level. This thesis is based on biblical–theological foundations, with the concept of ‘wisdom’ at the centre (chapter one). Subsequently, topics of recent discourses on education and philosophy were examined with regard to their relationship to the concern of sustainability. In particular, the concepts ‘fitness for purpose’, ‘reflective practitioner’, ‘character education’, and ‘paradigm shifts’ were examined. Intradisciplinary and/or interdisciplinary implications: The study comes to the conclusion, that education is, by its very nature, the transmission of wisdom from generation to generation, with the purpose of making the flourishing life of the human community possible in the long term. Based on this insight, it must be demanded that the education factor be given highest attention in the sustainability discussion. This is not just a matter of addressing the issue of sustainability in education or advocating for the sustainability of educational institutions. It is about education as a whole serving to cultivate wise people who live responsible lives in all their being and actions, aimed at a healthy development of the human community in God’s creation from generation to generation.
  • God is my inheritance: The voice of the woman in Psalm 16

    Armand Barus (AOSIS, 2023-05-01)
    Differing with most scholars Psalm 16 was a personal lament Psalm voiced by a woman, with the central theme being, God is the portion of my inheritance. The concluding statement was revealed to us through the use of poetic criticism on Psalm 16. Poetic criticism is a new method of reading lament Psalms through the careful observation of elements contained in the lament Psalms, such as lament, feeling, the concept of God and mood of the text. The application of poetic criticism on Psalm 16 by studying the elements of the lament, feeling, concept of God, and changes of mood, has shown us that the psalmist successfully faced the struggles of life when she lost her husband and as a result, her inheritance, because God is her inheritance. In and through her suffering the psalmist was able to know God as her portion of inheritance. Intradisciplinary and/or interdisciplinary implications: This research helps the readers understand the involvement of women in arranging the Psalms in the spiritual lives of Israel and Psalms can be studied now from feminist perspective.
  • Embracing the traces of the deity Opo Empung in Minahasa for culturative Christianity

    Christar A. Rumbay; Johannis Siahaya (AOSIS, 2023-05-01)
    The conversation about God has the potential to generate constructive discussion because it is the central theme of various religious traditions in Indonesia. The belief of the Minahasa community, one of the tribes in Indonesia, regarding the expression of the Opo Empung deity has become a matter of debate because it contains mystical values. But on the other hand, there have been attempts to integrate the understanding of the divine with Christianity, but they have not achieved satisfactory results. This study sought to find the deity value of Opo Empung with a constructive intercultural approach, which can be an object of dialogue and discussion for the Christian religion so as to offer respect, tolerance and peace. This study used a qualitative approach. The main sources that were used as references are library data, articles, books and other scientific references, combined with ethnographic data collection. The results showed that the expression of the deity Opo Empung offers an object of conversation for interaction with religion. It represents strong religious values. This cultural reality opens up opportunities for interactive conversations between Christianity and cultural beliefs in order to create a harmonious and peaceful life. Intradisciplinary and/or interdisciplinary implications: Churches and Christians in Minahasa and Indonesia need to minimise conflicts with local culture. The church could be a light for the local culture to know God properly and a bridge to build religious tolerance and moderation. It should accept and befriend local culture considered by people as a religion for generations.

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