Zurich, Wien, Munster : LIT Verlag
International Practical Theology ; 23
InChris A.M. Hermans; Jan-Albert van den Berg (ed.), Battle for the heart. How (not) to transform church and society, pp. 5-8
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Chris A.M. Hermans
Jan-Albert van den Berg
Leerstoel Empirische en praktische religiewetenschap
Chris A.M. Hermans; Jan-Albert van den Berg (ed.), Battle for the heart. How (not) to transform church and society
SubjectCenter for Religion and Contemporary Society (CRCS)
There is a trend in theology (for example, in the works of Jamie Smith in the USA and of Herman Paul in The Netherlands) to describe the battle of the heart as the core problem of the Christian religion in modern culture and, more specifically, the Christian churches. According to Augustine, the economy of the heart prevails for human beings; in other words, the complex mixture of longings are the driving forces of human lives. This longing is not an intellectual puzzle, but rather a craving for sustenance (see Ps. 42:1-2). The heart is the location of the teleological orientation towards the good life. For Augustine, this teleological aspect is coupled with the fundamental centrality of love: What we love, is where our heart is. We do not love God as our creator and sustainer of the world, but our love is oriented towards the world and manifested in individualism, narcissism, materialism, nationalism, and terrorism. The notion that emerges from this central orientation to so many aspects of the existential foundation of human existence provides sufficient motivation for further academic reflection. For this research project, academic reflection occurs against the background of the 40th birthday celebrations of the Faculty of Theology and Religion at the University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa. In this 40th year of the Faculty’s existence, we can indeed reflect on various “battles of the heart” that form part of the history of this special institution. As organisers of the project, the Department of Practical and Missional Theology, University of the Free State, deemed it fit to facilitate further reflection and discourse on the “battle of the heart” within this context. The Faculty of Theology and Religion is honoured to have Profs. Chris Hermans and Stephan Joubert associated as extraordinary professors with the Department of Practical and Missional Theology. Both Profs. Hermans and Joubert were requested to deliver introductory papers to the research conference. Interlocutors from various Departments in the Faculty, from other theological faculties in South Africa, and one colleague from another associated discipline were invited to participate in the prestige research conference that took place on 26 February 2020 in Bloemfontein. The initial papers presented at this conference were later extensively adapted, further developed and edited for this publication by the authors.
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