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.

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  • Church and xenophobia: The tension between nationhood and God’s mission in South Africa

    Christopher Magezi (AOSIS, 2023-10-01)
    The perennial scourge of xenophobic violence in South Africa raises some questions about the nation’s hospitality to immigrants. Unexpectedly, Christians are also torn between loyalty to the prevailing anti-immigrant sentiments and the obligation to be hospitable to foreigners. This article, therefore, seeks to explore this tension, and the objective is achieved by surveying pertinent literature. Having traced the history of xenophobic violence from the dawn of South Africa’s independence in 1994 to the present day, the article discusses the involvement of Christians in xenophobic violence, which can be viewed as a paradox. Thus, the article thoroughly reflects on God’s mission to foreigners and how the Church, a God-ordained community, fulfils that mission, which began in the Old Testament, when God anointed Israel as the vehicle of redemption for the world. Unfortunately, Israel failed to accomplish the mission, which was ultimately fulfilled by Jesus Christ, who ordained the Church as the new covenant community that would fulfil the aforesaid mission. This study reveals that all people, including foreign nationals, bear the image of God, who indiscriminately loves and cares for all of them. God’s legislation in Israel’s history and the New Testament Church attest to that. The article concludes by exposing the tension experienced by South African Christians, as well as proposing a thrust for Christians to participate in God’s mission by practising sacrificial love and hospitality to foreigners. Intradisciplinary and/or interdisciplinary implications: This is an interdisciplinary article that looks at theological and sociological issues of co-existence.
  • Transformation of elementary Puang Matua in Toraja belief system into Christianity

    Darius Darius; Sonny Eli Zaluchu (AOSIS, 2023-09-01)
    This study aimed to examine missionaries’ success in transforming the elementary Puang Matua from the Toraja religion of Aluk Todolo into a Christian-based one. Puang Matua is the name of the Toraja people’s god that created the earth and everything. The concept was transformed into Christianity through contextualisation efforts to become a God of the Universe (YHWH). Descriptive analysis showed that the reconstruction was supported by the theological similarities between Puang Matua’s concept and the conception of God the Creator. The theological similarity is an absolute requirement for successful contextualisation to introduce Christianity into indigenous peoples strongly controlled by culture. Intradisciplinary and/or interdisciplinary implications: This research could be a model for formulating a cross-cultural mission strategy that unites missiology with biblical and cultural anthropology.
  • The God of Julian of Norwich: A Christological reading in a follow-up key

    Edith Gonzalez-Bernal (AOSIS, 2023-09-01)
    This article presents some of the results of the research on the God that Julian of Norwich makes known to us through her Christological revelations. This woman left a writing about her revelations, in which Jesus Christ is the centre of her theology. In this document, the motherhood of God is manifested as the foundation of human nature. In this research, we wanted to answer the question about what the keys to the theological reading are that we find in Julian of Norwich, which are able to contribute to rethinking current Christology. We turn to hermeneutics as the method that offers an understanding that the theological exercise of interpreting is an art, a practice and a science, a reading and a rewriting based on the existing sources. The results allow us to rethink Christology from a mystical point of view and following Jesus, with an understandable, questioning, propositional and narrative language. Intradisciplinary and/or interdisciplinary implications: This article contributes to research regarding women and their theological production. It highlights the Christological reading that Juliana of Norwich made and that becomes a point of reference for analysing and interpreting the action of God from a vision of Verbo incarnation as our mother. The novelty that this research offers is in the identification and deepening of three important categories for theology: a Christology that re-signifies sin and suffering; a Christology of trust, supplication and petition; and a Christology of Jesus’ motherhood.
  • A religious discourse on water and environmental conservation issues: An interfaith approach

    Abdul Mufid; Abd. Kadir Massoweang; Mujizatullah Mujizatullah; Abu Muslim (AOSIS, 2023-09-01)
    This research aims to discover areas of agreement among major religious faiths regarding the interaction between humans and the environment, and to assess the impact of these shared perspectives on environmental preservation in selected countries. The religions under examination are: Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism and Hinduism. The primary viewpoints examined are: (1) Domination, where humans are considered superior in creation and utilise natural resources as required; (2) Stewardship, where humans are entrusted with authority over creation and have the responsibility of utilising natural resources; (3) Empathy, nature is affected by humans’ appalling behaviour. Furthermore, the research problem focussed on how religious approaches paid attention to water and environmental conservation issues. The research results indicated that water was public property. In addition, the Sunnah (prophetic tradition) has also included several principles that contributed to guiding people to conserve water. The Sunnah provided several legal steps in water conservation, and Islam had ordered the preservation of natural resources from the beginning. Intradisciplinary and/or interdisciplinary implications: This research contributes to providing insight to the readers that these approaches were not necessarily contradictory, but could be considered complementary in some cases. Their actual impacts on water conservation and the environment should be further investigated.
  • Ruth 1:1–5 read in the context of challenges of the migration of Nigerians

    Damian O. Odo; Favour C. Uroko (AOSIS, 2023-09-01)
    This study used Ruth 1:1–5 as a lens in the study of the increasing challenges Nigerian migrants face. Famine was ravaging the land, and hence Elimelech moved his family away from Israel to the country of Moab so they would be fed (Rt 1:1–2). While this was a decision made out of a desire for survival, Moab was not the best place for Elimelech to take his family. He was leaving the Promised Land that God had given him, and the Moabites did not worship the Lord. After only 10 years in Moab, Elimelech’s sons died, and the household comprised of three widows. This is similar to what is evident in Nigeria. Most Nigerian migrants, due to famine and other economic hardships, migrate out of Nigeria to destination countries as regular or irregular migrants. There are cases of Nigerian migrants who ended up in destination countries as touts, prostitutes, and drug financiers and pedlars. Some were even executed in destination countries such as Singapore and Malaysia. The recommendations include public awareness and sensitisation of individuals by the government and concerned faith-based communities. Intradisciplinary and/or interdisciplinary implications: This study examined the Nigerian migrant crisis in the light of Ruth 1:1–5. The study implicated Old Testament Exegesis, contextual biblical studies sociology and migration studies.
  • River baptism and climate change among African-Initiated Churches: An eco-theological critique

    Mookgo S. Kgatle; Mashilo Modiba (AOSIS, 2023-09-01)
    River baptism has biblical and historical significance in the Christian tradition. Many established mainline churches have baptismal pools where they safely conduct baptism. However, some African-Initiated Churches have been practicing river baptism because of their beliefs, theology and at times a lack of resources. While African-Initiated Churches have a theological basis for practicing river baptism, the challenge is that during rainy seasons, river baptism among African-Initiated Churches becomes hazardous because congregants can get swept away by water during the baptism ritual. This study uses an eco-theological critique to assess the relevance of river baptism amid climate change. This is a conceptual study that opted for content analysis as the research methodology. The study recommends that African-Initiated Churches that still practice river baptism must take extra caution in ensuring the safety of their congregants. If possible, life savers can be included in the baptismal programme of such churches as a way of ensuring the safety of their members. Most importantly, the African-Initiated Churches will have to rethink their theology of practicing river baptism amid climate change and other environmental crises. Such a theology should find a balance between the beliefs in river baptism and the safety of the believers. Intradisciplinary and/or interdisciplinary implications: The theological concept of baptism is discussed within the environmental science challenge of climate change. The article proposes solutions to contemporary challenges of river baptism in African-Initiated Churches through an eco-theological critique.
  • Ondofolo’s leadership in Christian perspective: A study based on Papuan-Indonesian local wisdom

    Fredrik Warwer; Devid R. Pontoan (AOSIS, 2023-09-01)
    Ondofolo is the highest customary leader in the order of the indigenous people of the Sentani tribe, Papua province, which is still in effect today. Ondofolo leadership is highly respected by the local community. This research was conducted to determine its leadership from a Christian perspective, using a qualitative exploratory approach. Data collection was carried out through participatory observation, interviews with Ondofolo and the head of the village customary court, and literature review. The research location was determined purposively in the Sentani customary area, data were analysed using triangulation. Ondofolo has values that are relevant from a Christian perspective, namely living righteously, full of wisdom and reason, and being able to manage his society, and having special attention that is carried out every day for his people. He is the highest leader among indigenous people, in his leadership always holding on to the Creator (God). Ondofolo’s leadership can be used as an alternative leadership model based on local wisdom that can be used both in society, government and even in the church, because it contains leadership values and relies heavily on God while leading. Intradisciplinary and/or interdisciplinary implications: This study contributes interdisciplinary aspects of contextual theology to Ondofolo’s leadership to give new meaning to that leadership from a Christian perspective. The results are useful in forming the basis of leadership for the people of Sentani, Papua and is used as an alternative model of leadership based on local wisdom in Indonesia.
  • Erratum: Isaiah 2:1–4 and insecurity in Nigeria: Towards building a non-violent society

    Cletus O. Obasi; Philip M. Igbo (AOSIS, 2023-09-01)
    No abstract available.
  • 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.

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