Acta Theologica is an accredited South African journal publishing independently refereed research articles on religion and theology. The Editorial Board will consider articles in English, Afrikaans, German and Dutch, written from any responsible point of view on subjects in any applicable field of scholarship. Before publication all contributions are refereed anonymously by at least two other scholars who are recognised as experts in the particular subject area.


The library contains articles of Acta Theologica as of vol. 29(2009) no. 2 to current.

Recent Submissions

  • The Gospel contra Nietzsche: a South African literary critique of Wille zur Macht

    Hale,Frederick (University of the Free State, 2017-01-01)
    A century of scholarship has shed countless photons of light on the reception of Friedrich Nietzsche's ideas in numerous countries. Still largely unilluminated, however, are South African reactions to his scepticism and moral pessimism. The present article explores how Joseph Doke, a scholarly, transplanted Englishman who served as a Baptist pastor in Johannesburg and elsewhere and wrote the first biography of Gandhi, used fiction to criticise Nietzsche early in the twentieth century. His novel The queen of the secret city (1916) embodies an explicit rejection of this German philosopher's pivotal notion of Wille zur Macht (will to power). It is further suggested that Doke was probably indebted to G.K. Chesterton's confrontation with that idea in Orthodoxy (1908). In Doke's critique of Nietzsche, he also described ethnic and religious clashes and implicitly argued for the moral superiority of Christianity and the ethical need for missionary endeavours.
  • Marcion of Synope's relevance in the contemporary world vis- à-vis religious violence

    Andrade,G. (University of the Free State, 2018-01-01)
    Marcion of Synope has long been considered a heretic by all Christian churches. He is frequently grouped with the Gnostic trends of Early Christianity, although this is not entirely accurate. While he made a handsome financial contribution to the Church of Rome, he was eventually excommunicated. Yet, even if his doctrines can seem extravagant, contradictory, alien to modern values, and even anti-Semitic, his theology is relevant in our contemporary world because of the ever-growing threat of religious violence and fundamentalism. In his attempt to cleanse Christianity of its Jewish elements, Marcion set the bases for a critique of the cult to a violent God and the divine inspirations of violence. Marcion believed that the Old Testament God (Yahweh) was, in fact, the same as the creator or the material world, from which we must escape. He contrasted that God's violent deeds with the peaceful nature and character of the New Testament God.
  • Identity-formation and alterity in John Chrysostom's In Epistulam ad Galatas commentarius

    de Wet,Chris L. (University of the Free State, 2014-01-01)
    The purpose of this study is to give account of the dynamics between Christian identity-formation and the problem of alterity in John Chrysostom's In epistulam ad Galatas commentarius, one of the earliest extant commentaries on Paul's Epistle to the Galatians. The study shows that Chrysostom envisions Christian identity-formation as a subset of Paulinomorphism, to become like Christ one should also become like Paul. Chrysostom views Paulinomorphism as the operation of four interrelated discourses, namely the discourse of: a) transformation and mimesis; b) virtue and masculinisation; c) the zealotic, and; d) medicalisation. In order to examine how Paulinomorphism is applied to the problem of alterity, Chrysostom's homilies In epistulam ad Galatas, especially the first homily in the series, are examined. Chrysostom opposes Judaizers, "Greeks", Marcionites, Arians and Manichees in this commentary. The study therefore also represents an analysis of the Wirkungsgeschichte of Galatians.
  • Identity and community in South African congregations

    Schoeman,W.J. (University of the Free State, 2015-01-01)
    The religious identity of both worshippers and congregations is not static, due to a changing context. Do congregational members believe, belong and engage in the same way as they did previously, or is it possible to track certain changes? Two Congregational Life Surveys were conducted in 2006 and 2010 among the membership of Dutch Reformed Church (DRC) congregations. The two surveys suggest that attenders prefer a private expression of their religion in which the Bible plays an important role. They have a strong bond with the congregation, but the preferred role of the congregation is to provide in the spiritual needs of the attenders. The engagement with the community is not so important for the attenders; in fact, the majority of them are not involved in the community. They value what the congregation does in the community, but personal involvement does not receive much attention. The biggest challenge for the reformation of a religious identity for both the membership and congregations of the DRC is to be more contextual and engaged in their social environment and culture. The two surveys suggest a movement in the opposite direction.
  • Mystical perspectives in interreligious dialogue

    Waaijman,K. (University of the Free State, 2008-01-01)
    This article discusses the distinction that is being made between the unknowability of God, the source of all that is, and Jesus of Nazareth, the body language of God, from the view-point of spirituality with Paul's address at the Areopagus in Athens (Acts 17:16-32) as point of departure. This speech virtually represents the oldest Christian interfaith meeting in which there is a dialogue between religious Athenians and Paul. The article reflects, first of all, on Paul's reaction to the questions and challenges of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers in his audience that relates to this distinction. A second part will investigate the mystical unity of the unknowable God and his body language in Christ. In a third part some mystical perspectives on this distinction in Islam will be analysed.
  • The centuries-old dialogue between buddhism and christianity

    Clasquin-Johnson,M. (University of the Free State, 2009-12-01)
    This article examines the pre-history of today's dialogue between Buddhists and Christians. Contrary to what one might think, pre-modern Europeans did have some understanding of Buddhism, however limited and distorted it might have been. Asians during the same period had a far better chance of understanding Christianity, because of the widespread presence of the Nestorian Church from Arabia to China. We do have evidence that interaction between Buddhists and Christians lead to some creative synthesis between the two.
  • God's missional people: Reflecting God's love in the midst of suffering and affliction

    Frans,J.; van Hancke,H. (University of the Free State, 2012-01-01)
    The title of this article reflects a deep and personal conviction founded on the belief that a major solution to lessen the suffering of people living in poverty and in the midst of pandemics such as AIDS, lies within the body of Christ. The focus therefore is on God's people being called to participate in God's mission in God's world. Reflecting on those people, his church, in which he is incarnating himself through his Holy Spirit in an extraordinary and empowering way in order for them to reflect his love on the highways and byways of life - to transform the lives and circumstances of people in order for him to receive glory and honour. The title of this article clearly indicates a fundamental characteristic of God's people - they are being sent to participate in his mission (missio Dei).
  • The biblical view of humanity and the promotion of the rights of persons with disabilities: the call and mission of the church

    White,P. (University of the Free State, 2017-01-01)
    It is estimated that 10 per cent of the world's population, approximately 650 million people live with disability. Eighty per cent of them live in developing countries. The needs and rights of persons with disabilities have been high on the United Nations agenda for at least three decades. This concern of the United Nations raises the question of the missional role of the church in addressing the spiritual, social and emotional needs of people with disabilities. "Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute" (Prov. 31:8). In this light, the article discusses the missional role of the church in promoting the rights of people with disabilities, by engaging literature on disability, the rights of people with disability, the biblical view of humanity, and the missional agenda of the church from an ecumenical and theological perspective. The article concludes that the church has a missional call to serve as the home and prophetic voice for the marginalised in society.
  • The Lukan periplus of Paul's Third Journey with a textual conundrum in Acts 20:15

    Wilson,M. (University of the Free State, 2016-06-01)
    This article discusses a pericope in Acts 20:6-21:8 recounting the sea portion of Paul's third journey. Its genre resembles the periplus, and generic features are discussed as well as parallels with other periploi. Paul's periplus in the Aegean and Mediterranean Seas is presented within a fixed calendar in the Jewish year, and the itinerary's specifics are detailed. A textual conundrum in Acts 20:15 is discussed as it relates to an anchorage opposite Chios. A lexical discussion of αντικρυς Χίου is presented, and possible translations are reviewed. The article presents a new hypothesis that the Ionian city of Erythrae was the place of the ship's landing. It closes with a brief history of Erythrae's significance in the Greco-Roman world and why a stop there by Paul's coasting vessel was likely during this part of the journey.
  • Mission to people of other faiths in the Old Testament and Eldoret, Kenya: Some reflections for engaging Muslims within their context

    Omwenga,R. (University of the Free State, 2015-01-01)
    The election of biblical Israel in the Old Testament through Abraham and the mandate to represent God to other nations compare to Kenyan contexts of mission to people of other faiths by virtue of strengths and weaknesses. With an aim of providing reflections for contemporary practice, this article goes beyond these strengths and weaknesses by providing suggestions for how mission can be effectively undertaken in Eldoret, Kenya. As a context where mission begins, the Old Testament's experience of engagements to other nations compare closely to the Kenyan experience, yet both lack perfect examples. Idolatry, unbelief and unfaithfulness to God's commandments are some of the factors leading to Israel's and Eldoret's failure to faithfully represent God. This article highlights and discusses these and proposes recommendations for a better paradigm applicable to any Christian church functioning in an Islamic context.
  • What happened to the Galatian Christians? Paul s legacy in Southern Galatia

    Breytenbach,Cilliers (University of the Free State, 2014-01-01)
    Paul's Letter to the Galatians points to the influence of his missionary attempts in Galatia. By reconstructing the missionary journeys of Paul and his company in Asia Minor the author argues once again for the south Galatian hypothesis, according to which the apostle travelled through the south of the province of Galatia, i.e. southern Pisidia and Lycaonia, and never entered the region of Galatia proper in the north of the province. Supporting material comes from the epigraphic evidence of the apostle's name in the first four centuries. Nowhere else in the world of early Christianity the name Παύλος was used with such a high frequency as in those regions where the apostle founded the first congregations in the south of the province Galatia and in the Phrygian-Galatian borderland.
  • The Heidelberg Catechism: A hidden creedal text and catechetical manual in the Malawian Reformed Church 1889-2012

    Zeze,W.S.D. (University of the Free State, 2014-01-01)
    This article focuses on the reception and the status of the Heidelberg Catechism in the Church of the Central Africa Presbyterian (CCAP) Nkhoma Synod in Malawi between 1889 and 2012. The constitution, the church order and the liturgical formularies of the CCAP Nkhoma Synod equally mention that the Heidelberg Catechism is one of the church's doctrinal standards. The Catechism had never been translated into the official language of this Church, implying that the content of the catechism has been withheld from its members. This leads to the following questions: Was the Heidelberg Catechism really received in the Nkhoma Synod? Why did the Nkhoma fail to make the content of the catechism available to its members? Did this Church realize the implication of a failure to translate the catechism into its official language? Therefore, this article argues that the Catechism had very little or no influence on the Church's theological discourse and practice.
  • Reversing the biblical tide: What Kuruman teaches London about mission in a post-colonial era

    de Gruchy,S. (University of the Free State, 2009-01-01)
    Through a case study focusing on the shift from the London Missionary Society (LMS) to the Council for World Mission (CWM) this essay argues that there is a hermeneutical circle between the Bible and mission. A particular reading of the Bible led the missionaries of the LMS to Africa, and their concern to promote the Bible led to the translation and printing of the Bible in indigenous languages - most famously into Setswana by Robert Moffat at Kuruman. Inevitably, the availability of the Bible in indigenous languages led to new ways of understanding the church and mission from the perspective of the South. This post-colonial dynamic led to changes in the LMS and to the emergence of CWM in 1977. The essay then pursues the argument by showing how over the thirty years of CWM's life there continues to be the development of a biblical vision for mission that takes seriously the perspectives of the post-colonial world.
  • The conception of the circle of Concerned African Women Theologians: is it African or Western?

    Fiedler,R.N; Hofmeyr,J.W (University of the Free State, 2011-06-01)
    In this article, we argue that the Circle of Concerned African Women Theologians was largely conceived as African, and that it addresses the issues of African women. The Circle approaches the issue of women's liberation from an African perspective, and is not based on a Western concept. Thus, we will show how Mercy Amba Oduyoye and her mother experienced liberation in the African context. Furthermore, by reflecting on the experiences of Mercy Amba Oduyoye and her mother in the context of the men who formed part of their world (their husbands, grandfathers and uncles), we will show how the reinterpretation of oppressive African cultures by men can bring about the liberation of African women. This is in keeping with the agenda of the Circle, namely to liberate women in the church and in society. The ecumenical bodies merely provided the structures within which the Circle was organized. The influence of Western feminist theologies enshrined in the ecumenical bodies with which Mercy Amba Oduyoye was associated, therefore had only a limited impact on the conception of the Circle.
  • Being and becoming "fully human" in an HIV-positive world: HIV/AIDS and feminist Christian spirituality

    Snyman,D.; Kretzschmar,L. (University of the Free State, 2008-01-01)
    Feminists have researched the link between gender and HIV/AIDS and shown that women are not always morally responsible for being HIV-positive. This article contributes to the debate by presenting a systematic discussion of women's experience of HIV/AIDS and spirituality. It offers a model of full humanity that interprets the links between HIV/AIDS, poverty, and gender and uses feminist spirituality as a resource for transformed healing. The model was developed by weaving together the interpreted experiences of black, HIV-positive women participants with the teachings of feminist Christian spirituality. This research study shows that in responding to the HIV/AIDS pandemic, it is necessary to adopt an integrative, multifaceted and holistic approach that embodies the gender perspective so that the fully human spirituality of people and women in particular, is enhanced.
  • Siyazama entrepreneurial development project: Challenges of a community-university partnership within a Faculty of Theology

    Botha,Marietjie J.; Albertyn,Ruth M. (University of the Free State, 2012-01-01)
    Calls for global relevance and accountability are prevalent in private-public partnerships. Current community engagement projects in higher educational institutions reflect this focus. The academic partner can play a boundary spanning (bridge building) role in a community-university partnership. The university partner often enters the partnership without full realisation of the challenges of its role. The Siyazama Craft Project, an entrepreneurial development intervention for poverty alleviation in Stellenbosch is an example of the boundary spanning role of the academic partner in the Faculty of Theology. This intervention is in line with the community interaction policy of the faculty and the university. The Siyazama entrepreneurship project is described, and challenges experienced during the course of planning, implementation and evaluation are presented. Identification of challenges in projects of this nature could provide insight for university partners in development projects. Findings could be applied to the broader context of public-private partnerships, which form part of corporate social responsibility projects in response to needs for relevance, accountability and responsible sustainable development.
  • Can christian ethics be used to engage business? A (South) African consideration

    Fourie,Willem (University of the Free State, 2012-01-01)
    Business enterprises are in a position to exert a significant influence on society - particularly in the context of developing countries. Businesses no longer simply influence shareholders, employees and customers, but also play a role in strengthening (or weakening) political institutions and contributing to the wellbeing of other stakeholders. The result is that business enterprises are increasingly accountable to a growing number of stakeholders. In this article the possibility of utilising Christian ethics to engage business is investigated. The question is whether it is at all possible for the church to address the business world by applying its particular ethical resources, and - should this be possible - what form such engagements could take.
  • The Church History Society of Southern Africa (CHSSA) attempting to come of age: the story of the CHSSA between 1991 and 2005

    Hofmeyr,J.W. (University of the Free State, 2010-06-01)
    In this article, the focus is on the question whether the Church History Society of Southern Africa (CHSSA) has matured after its 35 years of existence (1970-2005) to a fairly mature theological society in the South African academic context. After an introduction, attention is given to the proposals of an ad hoc committee that investigated the reorganization of the society into a more inclusive and representative organization, the different conferences, the journal, membership and management of the society, theological traditions and positions present in the society and some perspectives on the road ahead. Without trying to provide an official audit of the society, it is finally concluded that it is attempting to come of age and the prospects for the future are relatively positive. However, only the years to come will prove whether this society has fully come of age.
  • Penteoostalism & schisms in the Reformed church in Zambia 1996-2001: contextual and identity changes

    Hendriks,H.J.; Soko,L. (University of the Free State, 2011-01-01)
    This article analyzes the historical, contextual and identity changes that took place in the RCZ between 1996 and 2001 in order to find an answer to the question why it happened. The hypothesis is as follows; The leadership style of church leaders was influenced by the one-party state with its autocratic presidential powers that continued the missionary legacy of autocratic rule. The autocratic leadership style met head on with a new globalizing culture and with the Pentecostal tendencies in society. This created the conflict that caused the schisms. Pentecostal/charismatic tendencies challenged the long-inherited tradition with its autocratic church leadership style of mainline churches in general and the RCZ in particular. Subsequently, Pentecostal/charismatic movements caused intense conflict in the church between the pro-conservatives and pro-Pentecostals. In the RCZ, this led to the formation of the Christian Reformed Church (CRC) in 1999 and the Bible Gospel Church in Africa (BIGOCA) in 2001.
  • The trajectories of Christianity and African ritual practices: The public silence and the dilemma of mainline or mission churches

    Ntombana,Luvuyo (University of the Free State, 2015-01-01)
    In South Africa, there are mainly two Christian traditions on Christianity and African ritual practices. One being from missionaries and now mainly trailed by most white Mainline Churches and Pentecostal Churches. The other is by African Independent Churches (AIC). The first group oppose and condemn Christian involvement on any rituals related to ancestors. However, the second group perceive no conflict between Christianity and African rituals. This paper presents a brief discussion on the beliefs and views of various Christian groups on African rituals, focusing mainly on black members of the Mainline Churches. In this paper I examine literature from the 18th century and also revisit my ethnographic work which focuses on this theme in the democratic South Africa. Findings of this study suggests that black members of mainline Churches are still caught in between two identities; one being the Western package of Christianity and the African ritual practices.

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