Volume 22, Issue 1, February 2009
This issue provides informed theological reflection on two contemporary disputed questions – a national covenant "after Sorry" and the contradictions in modern capitalism – as well as related essays on suffering, forgiveness, and the place of human being in creation.
After Sorry: Towards a New Covenant of Solidarity and Embrace
Peter Lewis, pp.1-19
On 13 February 2008, the Australian Federal Parliament delivered an Apology to the Stolen Generations. This article contributes a theological understanding of the relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australia in the context of this National Apology. To explore the theological ramifications of the Apology the article focuses on two key themes which are reflected in both Christian and Indigenous perspectives on the world: narrative and relationality. From these parallel perspectives the article explores what a new national covenant might mean – after “sorry”.
Human and Animal Relations in the Theology of Karl Barth
Adam McIntosh, pp.20-35
This article presents a theological approach to human and animal relations by way of engagement with the theology of Karl Barth. Barth’s specific discussion of the ethical status of the killing of animals and his theological presuppositions are critically assessed. The author argues that Barth’s theological framework, especially his use of the concept of “secondary responsibility” and the implications of God’s covenantal relationship with human beings for animals, is morally problematic. A theology of human relationships with animals is inextricably linked to christology, eschatology and ecclesiology. Barth’s account is persuasive, though limited, in the first two categories, but is wanting in ecclesiology. An ecclesiological account of human relationships with animals is proposed by means of an engagement with Barth’s eschatological ecclesiology.
Should Christians Forgive Always; Does God Always Forgive?
Zenon Szablowinski, pp.36-52
Christianity brings a substantial development in the concept of forgiveness when, by commanding to forgive even the enemy, it lessens the distance between divine and human forgiveness. But, while forgiving those who intentionally attempt to harm or destroy us or others, do we not condone or justify injustice; and as a result, do we not undermine our personal and the common safety and betterment? Can the State still punish the perpetrator if the victim forgives? This article discusses resentment, sin and crime, and forgiving as “letting go”, “love given before” and “absolution”. It also explores the significant difference between divine and human forgiveness and reconciliation.
Capital, Culture and Contradictions: Contemporary Christian Economic Ethics
Ibrahim Abraham, pp.53-74
This article analyses contemporary Christian economic ethics within the context of global financial capitalism. Arguing that contemporary Christian economic thought is inseparable from Christian attitudes towards capitalism, this article suggests there are four main approaches to the topic today: pro-capitalist attitudes; advocacy of the moral regulation of capitalism; advocacy of the moral reform of capitalism; and diverse anti-capitalist approaches. Comparing and contrasting these approaches, the article notes that certain contradictions exist in aspects of contemporary Christian economic ethics, particularly around attempts to curtail the influence of capitalism on culture.
Sexual Vulnerability and a Spirituality of Suffering: Explorations in the Writing of Etty Hillesum
Richard R. Gaillardetz, pp.75-89
Etty Hillesum was a Dutch Jew who lived in Amsterdam during World War II and suffered under the persecutions of the Nazis, ultimately dying at Auschwitz. Her journals and letters offer a provocative portrait of an independent and intellectually curious young woman who was unabashedly frank about her active sexual life. Her views on God, prayer and suffering were developed largely outside the boundaries of any defined religious tradition. These views did not simply develop in tandem with her sense of her own sexuality; spirituality and sexuality intersected in her thought in important and novel ways. This essay sketches out a compelling spirituality of compassion drawn from the complex interconnections between Hillesum’s understanding of God, the reality of suffering and her growing sense of the vulnerability that authentic sexuality demanded.
Review Article: Warren Carter, John and Empire: Initial Explorations
Francis J. Moloney, pp.90-95
This is an important book that, if taken seriously, will generate a new paradigm for the interpretation of the Gospel of John. To put the matter more starkly: if the main thesis of Warren Carter’s book John and Empire is correct, the bulk of Johannine studies over the past 150 years will have to be marginalised. The author has suggested that he merely wishes to continue the dialogue, but that is not the way the book reads. While repeatedly stating the religious, socioeconomic and socio-political context of Roman Ephesus to be only one of the factors that have influenced the Gospel of John, he nonetheless insists that Johannine scholarship is too docetic and “religious”, removing a flesh and blood Christian community from its real-life setting: Roman Ephesus. Tracing the spiritual and theological forces that generated the Fourth Gospel, claims Carter, has been a post-Enlightenment enterprise. His study is an attempt to overcome the problem.
Review Article: Kenneth E. Bailey, Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes: Cultural Studies in the Gospels
Deborah Storie, pp.96-109
Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes: Cultural Studies in the Gospels is part of Kenneth E Bailey’s “continuing endeavor” to “understand more adequately the stories of the Gospels in the light of Middle Eastern Culture”. His stated intention is “to contribute new perspectives from the Eastern tradition that have rarely…been considered outside the Arabic-speaking Christian world”. He hopes this will enable readers to “better understand the mind of Christ, and the mind of the Gospel author/editors as they recorded and interpreted the traditions available to them”.
The One Who Is to Come
Joseph A. Fitzmyer
Brendan Byrne pp.110-114
Salvation is from the Jews: Saving Grace in Judaism and Messianic Hope in Christianity
Barbara Allen pp.114-116
Suffering and Salvation: The Salvific Meaning of Suffering in the Later Theology of Edward Schillebeeckx
Norman Young pp.116-119
Holding Men: Kanyirninpa and the health of Aboriginal men
Brian F. McCoy
John Hilary Martin pp.119-121
Exploring Ecological Hermeneutics
Norman C. Habel and Peter Trudinger (eds.)
David G. Horrell pp.21-123
PETER LEWIS is the former National Director for Covenanting for the Uniting Church in Australia. He is Chairperson and founding member of Australians for Native Title and Reconciliation in Victoria (ANTaR-Vic), and is currently employed at the Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency (VACCA) as Policy, Research and Communications Manager. The article in this issue is based on research awarded a Doctorate of Theology (MCD) in 2007.
ADAM MCINTOSH is currently minister of the South Ballarat Uniting Church. In 2007 he was awarded the degree of Doctor of Theology from the Melbourne College of Divinity for a dissertation entitled The Doctrine of Appropriation as an Interpretative Framework for Karl Barth’s Ecclesiology of the Church Dogmatic. His on-going research interests include Karl Barth studies, ecclesiology, and ethics.
ZENON SZABLOWINSKI SVD, since graduating as Doctor of Theology (MCD) in 2005, has taught ethics at the Divine Word University, Madang and moral theology at the Catholic Theological Institute, Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea. His specific research interest lies in the area of religious and secular forgiveness and reconciliation, both on the individual and the social level.
IBRAHIM ABRAHAM is an Honorary Research Associate in Monash University’s Centre for Studies in Religion and Theology and a PhD student at the University of Bristol. He has published articles in journals that include The Australian Religion Studies Review, The Bible and Critical Theory and The Journal of Business Ethics.
RICHARD R. GAILLARDETZ is the Thomas and Margaret Murray and James J. Bacik Professor of Catholic Studies at the University of Toledo in Toledo, Ohio. He received his PhD from the University of Notre Dame in systematic theology (1991). His research interests lie in the areas of ecclesiology, spirituality and pastoral theology. His most recent book is Ecclesiology for a Global Church: A People Called and Sent (Orbis: 2008).