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

Recent Submissions

  • Interview with Nadine Bowers Du Toit

    Laubscher, M. (Faculty of Theology and Religion, University of the Free State, 2023-06-30)
    Nadine Bowers Du Toit is a professor in the Department of Practical Theology and Missiology at the Faculty of Theology at the University of Stellenbosch. She holds a PhD in Practical Theology (Theology and Development) and her research over the past 20 years has focused on the role of faith communities in addressing the intersecting issues of race, inequality, gender and poverty. Her most recent projects have been funded by grants from the National Research Foundation and the Nagel Centre for World Christianity. Besides lecturing, publishing and supervising postgraduate students, Nadine is often invited to address congregations, church leaders and faith-based organisations on topics pertaining to social justice. She sees herself as an “activist academic”, always advocating for more diverse voices to be heard: to this end, she chairs the transformation committee in the Faculty of Theology. Nadine is the director of the Unit for Religion and Development and serves on the boards of severalnon-governmental organisations. She is the current vice-president of the International Academy of Practical Theology.
  • Holy communion in contagious times: Celebrating the eucharist in the everyday and online worlds

    Ncapodi, T. E. (Faculty of Theology and Religion, University of the Free State, 2023-06-30)
    Richard Burridge’s volume could not have come at a better time. In the aftermath of the COVID pandemic, his discourse is on the virtual church and the celebration of Holy Communion online. Some Christian churches have gladly embraced the concept of online meetings and still allow their members to attend services in this way. Other Christian churches do not support online HolyCommunion. Instead, they support online church services only, without the Eucharist. Burridge’s book provides a raison d’etre for online forms of Christian worship.
  • “This is what black girls do”: lamenting the bruised umntu and resisting dehumanisation

    Penxa-Matholeni, N.; Abrokwaah, D. (Faculty of Theology and Religion, University of the Free State, 2023-06-30)
    This article seeks to analyse the infamous urine incident that happened at Stellenbosch University in May 2022. This analysis will be done in relation to space, language, and belonging. The question is: To what extent does the urine incident relate to the issues of space, connection through language, and belonging at Stellenbosch University? Indigenous storytelling methodology is employed to answer the above question. The metaphors of amaXhosa (umntu ngumntu ngabantu1 and endleleni2) are used to find a connection and pave the way forward.
  • Feminist spiritualities, gender equality and sustainable development: The possibilities of a countermovement

    Swanepoel, N.; van Wyk, T. (Faculty of Theology and Religion, University of the Free State, 2023-06-30)
    Feminist historiography indicates that spirituality has historically been one of the instruments whereby women could “speak”. This “voice” implied recognition and authority, to a certain degree, in a patriarchal-oriented reality. In this regard, feminist spirituality became a vehicle for women to authorise their own religious and spiritual contributions and insights. Feminist spirituality became a countermovement – countering perceptions and ingrained convictions that a woman could not be a mediator between God and humanity. Feminist spirituality contributed to the creation of spaces for women to study and participate in the creation of religious-spiritual texts. Women’s contexts are diverse and intersectional, and so is feminist spirituality, to the extent that it is more appropriate to speak of feminist spiritualities in the plural. This article explores the possibilities of feminist spirituality as countermovement that contributes to the realisation of gender equality, in the way that gender equality finds expression in the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations. It is situatedwithin a growing field of work that explores how faith communities’ religion and spirituality contribute to their being agents of sustainable development, and within the contextual urgency of the sustainable development agenda.
  • Digital ecclesiology and Africa’s digital natives: prospects and challenges: Prospects and Challenges

    Ndereba, K.M. (Faculty of Theology and Religion, University of the Free State, 2023-06-30)
    The COVID-19 pandemic has raised important issues for the church. Churches have grappled with ministering to their congregants in light of the changes in physical gatherings over the past two years. While the digital mode of ministry has strengthened the church’s missional outreach, churches have struggled with two foundational questions: the nature and the mission of the church. This article engages the emerging research in digital ecclesiology from the lens of reformed ecclesiology –particularly using the ecclesiology of Berkhof and the Westminster Standards as interlocutors – and offersprospects and challenges for the church’s ministry to digital natives in Africa. It argues that digital ecclesiology should not be perceived as a hindrance to the church or be blindly accepted. It should rather be critically engaged to delineate its prospects and challenges for the church’s ministry. More specifically, this article argues that the digital mode of ministry enriches the church’s missional calling as it reaches out to Africa’s digital natives; expands the understanding of church as organism and invisible, and creates specific challenges for the church’s ministry in terms of key concepts such as identity, authority, and community.
  • An ongoing search of constant and sustainable Lutheran Theological Education in South Africa in the 21st century.

    Mashabela, K.; Madise, M. (Faculty of Theology and Religion, University of the Free State, 2023-06-30)
    This article explores the recent history of Lutheran theological education in South Africa, which is still confronted by the legacy of colonial and apartheid education systems. The latter need to be confronted with liberation and decolonisation systems that reclaim African indigenous identities. There is a need to cultivate a culture of quality and equal education, spirituality, politics, and socio-economic systems for the service of South Africans. Evangelical Lutheran churches inSouthern Africa are committed to improve and reform Lutheran theological education in the 21st century. Lutheran theological education is necessary to make a meaningful contribution towards training theological students to assist the church in its response to societal concern and contextual issues. The article introduces a recent renewal of Lutheran theological institutions in a new teaching and learning environment by the Lutheran Church. It discusses the implications and successes of Lutheran theological education in South Africa.
  • Covid-19, racism and the ‘state of exception’? A theological ethical engagement with identity and human rights in an age of ‘Corona’ and beyond

    Forster, D. (Faculty of Theology and Religion, University of the Free State, 2023-06-30)
    The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the role that religion and politics play at the intersection with individual and social rights. Religiously informed political actors capitalised on fears and prejudices to further science denialism, normalise nationalist ideologies, and curtail human rights. In the United States of America, Brazil, and South Africa, it took the form of problematic political theologies. In many instances, a state of exception, as understood in the work of Giorgio Agamben, was enacted. Such actions often have biopolitical significance revolving around making political choices informed by religious beliefs that impact on individual bodies and social freedoms. This extends from individual bodies tosocieties. This research employs a qualitative literature approach to investigate the intersection of political and theological beliefs during the pandemic. It highlights the impact of populist political theologies on the erosion of democracy and human rights in countries that have highly religious populations. It is argued that these strategies reach beyond the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • The constant reality beyond exception and rule in Dietrich Bonhoeffer's theology

    Radler, K. (Faculty of Theology and Religion, University of the Free State, 2023-06-30)
    Due to the many warnings at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic of an increased transfer of power to governments and the subsequent impending demise of democracy, this article presents a theological response to a persistent theory of autocratic power. Employing, but reinterpreting the semantics of the concepts of the jurist and theorist of state Carl Schmitt, the theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer redirects the former’s rhetoric regarding history, rule, nothingness, creation ex nihilo and miracle. As a result, Bonhoeffer responds to a secular method with faith in Christ’s cross and provides for a reality that can serve as a constant grounding for a new life carried by ultimate hope.
  • SAWUBONA. A theo-ethic for everyday decolonial gestures

    Kaunda, C.J. (Faculty of Theology and Religion, University of the Free State, 2023-06-30)
    This article takes a pentecostalicity engagement with the Zulu notion of Sawubona to construct a theo-ethics of everyday decolonial gestures of life-giving, affirmation and enhancing in the context of global coloniality and cultures of death that define and determine life in modern capitalist societies. Pentecostalicity is grounded in the Spirit’s freedom to greet (Sawubona) creation as happened on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2) with pneumatic gestures of redemption, liberation, emancipation and recognition of the singularity of life and co-becoming of all things in the universe. I demonstrate how indigenous forms of greeting embody pentecostalicity resources that could be mobilised to construct a theo-ethics ofeveryday decolonial gestures. I underline that such an approach helps to perceive indigenous greetings such as Sawubona as dynamic philosophical terms saturated with incredible meanings deeply rooted in the pro-existential spirituality of care for life.
  • To kneel or not to kneel: Appropriating a religious and sport symbol for racial justice in South Africa

    Andrew, D. (Faculty of Theology and Religion, University of the Free State, 2023-06-30)
    The act of kneeling of the Black Lives Matter Movement (BLM) has its origin in both the religious and the sport environment. In some religious circles it is believed that kneeling is a form of submission to God and in other circles it is a symbol of resistance to oppressive and dehumanising practices and structures. This article intends to investigate critically the use of the symbolism of kneeling, its socio-political and religious implications, how it is appropriated to address racism and other inequalities in sport, and how it can become a symbol in the process of achieving racial justice. The purposeof the study is to investigate whether the BLM concept of taking the knee (as well as the related expression “I can’t breathe”) and its ambiguous interpretation can be appropriated in the South African context and whether it can assist the struggle to achieve racial justice in South Africa. The study will follow a multidisciplinary approach and will utilise comparative literature analysis.
  • Theology and identity: The impact of culture upon Christian thought in the second century and in modern Africa

    Lamak, K. (Faculty of Theology and Religion, University of the Free State, 2023-06-30)
    In this book, Kwame Bediako explores the theme of identity and Christianity from a broad perspective, addressing many issues modern scholars have battled with. Although Bediako’s focus is postmissionary Christianity in Africa, dating from the 1960s to the present, he gives a foundational background to issues related to culture and identity since the birth of Christianity in the first century AD.
  • Raising a thousand Tutu voices: Reflections on the Truth to Power exhibition

    Meiring, J. (Faculty of Theology and Religion, University of the Free State, 2023-06-30)
    This article explores the lifework and legacy of Archbishop Desmond Mpilo Tutu who passed away on 26 December 2021. It relates the reaction of visitors to the newly installed exhibition, Truth to power: Desmond Tutu and the churches in the struggle against apartheid, in the historic Old Granary Building, home of the Desmond & Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation in Cape Town. The Victims Wall forms part of the exhibition, in a room dedicated to the unfinished business of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC). The article argues that the cries and bruised bodies of the victims of apartheid, such as those of Mrs Calata, widow of Fort Calata, one of the Cradock Four victims, and of thousands of “ordinary people”, arestill reverberating down the decades to be heard and acknowledged by specifically White South Africans. The example and the courage of the poet and journalist, Antjie Krog, who covered the TRC hearings and who is still speaking poetry to power as a public intellectual, are used to reflect on the author’s own culpability and that of other White Afrikaans-speaking South Africans and their involvement in the TRC process. The article concludes with the immense and joyful task of the Foundation to raise a thousand Tutu voices, in an attempt to answer questions on how to keep the memories of the bodies of those who suffered under colonialism and apartheid alive, while seeking reconciliation and fighting for a just, equal, and inclusive society in a deeply divided South Africa and how to become more fully human
  • Confessing church today?

    Smit, D.J. (Faculty of Theology and Religion, University of the Free State, 2023-06-30)
    Confessing church today? The article responds to the question from Reformed ecumenical circles regarding what it could mean to be a confessing church today. It revisits Karl Barth’s influential contributions to the same discussion during the 1920s and for several decades after that. It calls to mind some major claims from Barth’s authoritative paper for the ecumenical Reformed world in 1925 on the question of whether the Reformed community needed a general confessional document – a proposal in regard to which he strongly rejected both the possibility and the desirability. It then traces the legacy of these claims through the reception history of the Theological Declaration of Barmen, the Confession of Belhar and the Accra Covenant on Justice and the Ecology, and thereby suggests possible answers to the original question.
  • Christianity, ‘supernatural’ beliefs and COVID-19

    Shoko, E. (Faculty of Theology and Religion, University of the Free State, 2023-06-30)
    COVID-19 arguably had far-reaching implications for Christianity and the church as an institution. Issues around social distancing and lockdown directly impacted articulation and religious expression, while understanding of the pandemic and the virus were mediated through constructions of religio-spiritual beliefs. Given this, the study sought to explore some neo-Pentecostal church leaders’ messages in South Africa regarding the novel coronavirus or COVID-19, what this meant to their followers and the associated implications for the spread and effects of COVID-19. Methodologically, the researcher iewed and listened to uploaded YouTube video clips of news related to the church and COVID-19, uploaded bymedia outlets and the neo-Pentecostal church leaders themselves as well as online newspaper reports from the period 2 March to 19 June 2020. The findings of the study reveal that neo-Pentecostal church leaders attributed the origins of SARS-COV-2 to “evil” spirits. Neo-Pentecostal church leaders had mixed messages on the possible cure for COVID-19, with some emphasising miracles as the panacea for COVID-19, and a minority believing that God exhibits his power through epidemiologists. Prayer was also viewed as a tool for Christians to protect themselves from contracting COVID-19 through the invocation of divine powers. The paper concludes that the pervasive influence of church leaders and their emphasis onspiritual remedies such as prayer and miracles may have given Pentecostal followers a false sense of security, which might have affected their awareness of COVID-19.
  • "In The Spirit": A Triune Reformulation

    Santoso, A. (Faculty of Theology and Religion, University of the Free State, 2023-06-30)
    The Ecumenical and Reformed Creeds and Confessions hold a continuity of Trinitarian doctrine as formulated since the Nicene creed (325 AD). Yet the role of the spirit seems to be undermined in such formulations. The historical context of the Nicene creed emphasized on the homoousios of the Son. Thus, the filioque in the Nicene later formulation. In this article, the author addresses the lacuna of the role of the Spirit in the traditional Trinitarian formulations. Based on John Calvin’s understanding of an autotheos Trinity, and his timeless view of eternity, the significance of the Spirit should have an equally prominent role. The renewed position should leave no ontological subordinationism either of the Son or the Spirit—a correction to the Eastern and the Western church formulations. In addition, the reformulation read in autothean interpretation shows how the inherent hypostasis submission fits with God’s mission in the history of salvation.
  • Pointing out persuasion in Philemon: Fifty readings of Paul’s rhetoric from the fourth to the eighteenth century

    Decock, P.B. (Faculty of Theology and Religion, University of the Free State, 2023-06-30)
    This informative and insightful work reveals the vast field of the history and life of the Letter to Philemon after it was written. This approach to biblical texts has received greater attention in recent years when the reader’s contribution to the meaning of textswas first recognised. This attention to the reception of biblical texts is the special subject of the Encyclopedia of the Bible and Its Reception (EBR), which started in 2009 and of which 20 volumes have already been published. This encyclopedia surveys not only sermons and commentaries, but also the various ways in which biblical texts have been received, such as in the creative arts, including paintings, sculptures, novels, films and music. Professor Tolmie’s study, however, focuses on how commentators and preachers have “pointed out persuasion” in this Pauline letter. He has selected, as the subtitle indicates, 50 readings of Philemon from three periods, the early church (starting with Ambrosiaster in chapter 1), the Middle Ages (chapter 2), and the period from the 16th to the 18th century (Chapter 3). For each of these interpreters, Tolmie offers a brief introduction and then focuses on the way they explain the rhetorical situation. He then focuses on the way each author explains the rhetorical strategy by moving through the letter, section by section. Chapter 4, the conclusion, is actually a synthesis, in which Tolmie looks for tendencies in the interpretation of Paul’s letter by focusing first on the way the rhetorical situation is imagined and then on Paul rhetorical strategies in the different literary units of Philemon.
  • Stand-up preaching: Homiletical insights from contemporary comedians

    Wessels, W. (Faculty of Theology and Religion, University of the Free State, 2023-06-30)
    Stand-Up Preaching, as per the subject line, promises homiletic insights from contemporary comedians. I must admit that Myers engages with contemporary comedians and the theory of comedy, as far as I can discern, in the most thorough manner possible in a single book. The list of comedians he contemplates is exceptionally comprehensive, and it seems that every well-known comedian who has set foot on American soil has at least been mentioned. I found myself, throughout the book, researching the comedians he introduced for further context on these personalities and backgrounds. In that respect, this is a brilliantly researched work by Myers.
  • Common grace as theological encouragement for interreligious dialogue

    Salurante, T.; Kristanto, D.; Wibowo, M. (Faculty of Theology and Religion, University of the Free State, 2023-06-30)
    The Dutch theologian-statesman Abraham Kuyper developed the doctrine of common grace in a lengthy manner. Common grace emphasises that God’s grace operates not only in a salvific way for the elect, but also in a general way for every individual. Despite sin, human beings are capable of doing beautiful, just, and wise things and are endowed with gifts and talents, due to God’s act of common grace. On that doctrinal basis, Christians are called upon to appreciate the people outside the church, for there are fruits of common grace in their lives. On many occasions, Kuyper acknowledgedthat people of other religions have better qualities than Christians. Although not salvific, common grace opens various possibilities for Christians to learn from non-Christians. Thus, common grace could be a theological encouragement for interreligious dialogue toward mutual enrichment. This doctrine shows how the interreligious relationship between Christians and non-Christians should not be reduced to evangelism alone; it should also include dialogue and further cooperation toward the common good.

    Ibita, M.; Ibita, M.S. (Faculty of Theology and Religion, University of the Free State, 2023-04-26)
    This study theologises on the Urban Poor Women and children with Academics for Reaching and Delivering on UNSDGs in the Philippines (UPWARD-UP) Project research team’s collaboration with the Alliance of Peoples’ Organisation Along the Manggahan Floodway (Alliance), Philippines. We posit that the theological process of seejudge-act, enhanced with evaluate-celebrate/ritualise, using feminist biblical characterisation in interpreting Matthew 15:21-28, serves as a spiritual resource for Christians working for the urban poor realisation of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond. The Canaanite woman challenged Jesus’ identity and mission impacting onChristology and ecclesiology. This characterisation makes her a vital example and companion for the Alliance womenleaders in achieving their prioritised SDGs (1 - No Poverty; 3 - Health and Well-being [in relation with the Environment];4 - Quality Education, and 16 - Justice, Peace and Strong Institutions seen from the lens of UNSDG 5 - Gender Equality) during the pandemic and beyond.

    Brazal, A.; Camarines, T. (Faculty of Theology and Religion, University of the Free State, 2023-04-26)
    This article aims to respond to the question: How have women received the shift of religious activities online and what are its implications or challenges, if any, for the future of the church? The study reveals no significant difference in the level of engagement in religious activities prior to and during the pandemic among women respondents in the NCR, Philippines. Women have played crucial roles in maintaining the religious well-being of their household, suggesting exercise of agency and leadership. A correlation/regression analysis of the data also projects a significant increase in level of engagement in 10 online religious activities post-pandemic.

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