Dion A Forster

Dion A Forster
Stellenbosch University | SUN · Department of Systematic Theology and Ecclesiology

PhD (Radboud), DTh (SA)

About

94
Publications
13,386
Reads
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216
Citations
Introduction
Dion A Forster is a Full Professor in the Department of Systematic Theology and Ecclesiology, Stellenbosch University, focusing on Public Theology and Ethics. He is the Director of the Beyers Naudé Centre for Public Theology. His current research focusses on the politics of forgiveness as a social, political and theological concern. Methodologically the research relies both on theory construction and qualitative empirical analysis.
Additional affiliations
January 2014 - present
Stellenbosch University
Position
  • Senior Researcher
January 2013 - present
Radboud University
Position
  • PostDoc Position
Description
  • I am currently busy with a second PhD at Radboud University, Nijmegen.
January 2011 - December 2013
Stellenbosch University
Position
  • Senior Researcher
Education
January 2014 - October 2017
Radboud University
Field of study
  • Theology (Empirical Biblical Ethics)
January 2009 - December 2009
Stellenbosch University
Field of study
  • Management and Executive Development
January 2002 - October 2006
University of South Africa
Field of study
  • Theology and Science

Publications

Publications (94)
Article
Full-text available
The answer to the question ‘who am I?’ is of fundamental importance to being human. Answers to this question have traditionally been sought from various disciplines and sources, which include empirical sources, such as biology and sociology, and phenomenological sources, such as psychology and religion. Although the approaches are varied, they have...
Article
Full-text available
The death of Nelson Mandela has once again focused the spotlight on his religious convictions and faith affiliation. Numerous academics, journalists, and interested members of faith communities have asked what Mr Mandela’s faith perspective was. It is clear that faith played a part in his life and this was evidenced in the events surrounding his de...
Book
Full-text available
"The findings from this study go beyond biblical-theological scholarship on forgiveness. Dion Forster boldly succeeds in showing that creating conditions for deeper human connection transforms impossibility into possibility and shines a light on the face of " the Other " , who can now be forgiven." Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela, Professor and Research C...
Article
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This article contributes a new perspective to debates on religious political populism. It does so by considering the role of religious leaders and religious groups in political populism in South Africa. The article shows that conceptions of populist leaders and movements is a complex and nuanced task. In some instances, like during South African ap...
Chapter
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This chapter engages some historical and contemporary understandings of the growing field of public theology in various African contexts. It does so by means of a discussion of understandings of Africa and African. It also presents the ways in which faith and public life intersect in various African contexts. The aim is to show that the critical st...
Research
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This lecture engages a strange paradox that characterises contemporary life in South Africa. While 92,3% of South Africans indicate that they are religious (in fact, 85,6% of the population claim to be Christian), we continue to struggle with the individual and systemic indecencies of racism, sexism, poverty, violence and environmental destruction....
Article
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The relationship between religion and the law is often complicated. It is sometimes even conflicted. At the heart of the matter lies the tension between freedom of belief and association, and protection from abuse.
Chapter
This chapter considers four tasks for addressing ongoing injustice, racism and economic inequality among the youth of South Africa. These tasks come from the work and theology of Peter Storey a South African Methodist cleric and anti-apartheid activist.
Article
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Interest in Public Theology is growing across the African continent. However, there are some important critiques of Public Theology and public theologians in Africa and from Africa. This article outlines three important critiques of Public Theology within the variety of African contexts. Having done so, it seeks to engage in a process of critical r...
Article
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As we celebrate “International Worker’s Day” on 1 May, I sense that most people’s daily work will go largely unnoticed in churches, mosques, and temples around the world. Yet there is a significant body of research to show that a great deal of suffering in contemporary society is related to what we encounter at work. Not to mention the moral and e...
Article
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Knowing What Is True? Between Science and Belief By Dion Forster After a somewhat “rebellious” childhood, I began to feel a strong sense of calling to the priesthood as I approached the end of high Read more… https://www.counterpointknowledge.org/knowing-what-is-true-between-science-and-belief/
Article
Full-text available
Fear is a global phenomenon that impacts individuals, institutions, and nations. Fear is associated with the experience of some form of threat, for example, the fear of a specific enemy. The increase in socio-political uprisings in many contexts around the world is contributing towards an environment of violence, insecurity, and fear. Such situatio...
Article
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How do we know who we are? What sources can we draw upon in order to explain and understand the complex notions of identity and consciousness? This article revisits this debate and argues that African approaches the consciousness and identity cohere with Wentzel van Huyssteen’s post-foundational theology. Post-foundational theology offers a transve...
Article
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Why do many African evangelical Christians support Donald Trump? This article explains and critically reconsiders some of the reasons why some African Christian individuals and African Christian groupings have been loyal to seemingly morally corrupt, socially problematic, American politicians and their political agendas. To understand this, we cons...
Article
Despite the demise of apartheid, economic inequality remains racially skewed in South Africa. For young people born either shortly before or after 1994, the official demise of apartheid-termed "born frees"-we must ask whether they are indeed "free" of the social and economic constraints of the past. How does ongoing inequality color notions of reco...
Article
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This article engages the work of one of South Africa's foremost scholars in religion and law-the late Prof. Dr Mary-Anne Elizabeth Plaatjies-Van Huffel. Towards the end of her life, Plaatjies-Van Huffel published a number of important articles on themes related to religion and law. In this article we shall trace the biographical and academic antece...
Article
Full-text available
Forster, Dion A. “TB Joshua, Nigeria’s Controversial Pentecostal Titan - How Should He Be Remembered?” The Conversation. June 6, 2021, Arts and Culture edition.
Article
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Each year on the 16 of June, South Africans commemorate Youth Day. It is a day on which we remember the sacrifices made by young people in the struggle against apartheid. In particular, we remember 176 people who were killed by the Apartheid police in the 1976 student uprisings....
Chapter
Full-text available
This chapter discusses the doctrine and polity related to Ordained Deacons in the Methodist Church of Southern Africa and the sacraments of Baptism and Holy Communion.
Chapter
This chapter presents research on religious diversity in the South African workplace. It approaches the subject from the perspectives of contemporary research on religion and social identity in South Africa, and facilitated positive inter-group contact.
Article
Full-text available
Forster, Dion A. “Protestant Evangelicalism and the Merit Trap.” Academic. Counterpoint: Navigating Knowledge (blog), February 17, 2021. https://www.counterpointknowledge.org/protestant-evangelicalism-and-the-merit-trap/.
Article
Full-text available
Forster, Dion A. “Putting Mary at the Centre of Christmas Is a Challenge to South Africa’s Prosperity Gospel.” The Conversation. January 2021, News edition. http://theconversation.com/putting-mary-at-the-centre-of-christmas-is-a-challenge-to-south-africas-prosperity-gospel-151720.
Article
Full-text available
Forster, Dion A. “Trump Is out, but US Evangelicalism Remains Alive and Well in Africa.” The Conversation. January 20, 2021, Analysis edition. http://theconversation.com/trump-is-out-but-us-evangelicalism-remains-alive-and-well-in-africa-151117.
Article
Full-text available
Forster, Dion A. “We Must Make Moral Choices about How We Relate to Social Media Apps.” The Conversation. October 21, 2020, sec. Arts and Culture. http://theconversation.com/we-must-make-moral-choices-about-how-we-relate-to-social-media-apps-147509.
Article
Full-text available
This article argues for a rediscovery of a theology of work in South Africa that is based on the Protestant notion of calling and vocation. Such a view has the primary intention of emphasising obedience and faithfulness to God rather than self-fulfilment or achievement as the intentions of work. Such an approach can empower and equip the church and...
Book
Full-text available
Este volume está dividido em dois blocos. No primeiro - Teologia pública no Brasil e na África do Sul - compartilham-se saberes e experiências do que está sendo produzido nessa área nos dois países; no segundo - Teologia pública, direitos humanos, violência e protestos - autores e autoras abordam questões mais pontuais e emergentes da sociedade com...
Article
Full-text available
Forster, Dion A. “When a Pandemic Makes the Impossible, Possible.” Academic. Counterpoint Navigating Knowledge (blog), April 29, 2020. https://www.counterpointknowledge.org/when-a-pandemic-makes-the-impossible-possible/.
Article
Full-text available
Forster, Dion A. “Methodist Church Southern Africa Enters New Era as Women Take up Top Positions.” The Conversation. December 5, 2019. http://theconversation.com/methodist-church-southern-africa-enters-new-era-as-women-take-up-top-positions-127631.
Article
Full-text available
This article argues that Johan Cilliers is a public theologian of a particular kind. A review of his work shows that Cilliers views worship as “protest”. In this instance, protest is understood in etymological terms as a witness towards what is true. The article presents six contemporary characteristics of public theology. Having done so, it presen...
Chapter
Full-text available
Populist political movements pose serious challenges to churches and theology in many global contexts. Such movements promote marginalization and exclusion of those who are regarded as not belonging to "the people", and thereby undermine core values-dignity, equality, freedom, justice, and participation of all citizens in decision-making processes....
Chapter
Full-text available
David Korten proposes a Fourth Generation approach (1990) to development which argues for development discourse to be strongly value driven, and which sees social movements take centre stage in promoting an alternative vision of a more just global society. This argument has been expanded in recent years by other scholars, such as the theologian Ign...
Article
Full-text available
Forster, Dion A. “Understanding the Influence of Contemporary Evangelical Christianities – Counterpoint: Navigating Knowledge,” October 3, 2019. https://www.counterpointknowledge.org/understanding-the-influence-of-contemporary-evangelical-christianities/.
Article
Full-text available
This article studies the complexity of understandings of forgiveness among a sample of Black and White South Africans within the context of an empirical intercultural Bible reading process. We will first focus on the foundation upon which the study is predicated-namely that the social imagination of forgiveness is deeply contested among South Afric...
Article
Full-text available
This article presents an analysis of some contemporary trends and developments in evangelical theologies and movements. This is of importance to members of Christian groups, Christian leaders and academics, since we have seen how forms of evangelicalism have shifted political realities, split historical denominations and altered global perspectives...
Article
Full-text available
Forster, Dion A, and Sunelle Stander. “‘Worthy Women’: Sexual Bargaining for a Place in Utopia–or Dystopia?” Academic. Counterpoint: Navigating Knowledge (blog), June 11, 2019. https://www.counterpointknowledge.org/worthy-women-sexual-bargaining-for-a-place-in-utopia-or-dystopia/.
Article
Full-text available
Forster, Dion A. “Is It Time to Give Up on Forgiveness among Black and White South Africans?” Academic. Counterpoint Navigating Knowledge (academic), March 20, 2019. https://www.counterpointknowledge.org/is-it-time-to-give-up-on-forgiveness-among-black-and-white-south-africans/.
Article
Full-text available
Forster, Dion, and Simbarashe Pondani. “Why South Africans Are Prone to Falling for Charlatans in the Church.” The Conversation. March 10, 2019, Africa edition. http://theconversation.com/why-south-africans-are-prone-to-falling-for-charlatans-in-the-church-112879.
Article
This article considers whether South Africa’s largest mainline Christian denomination, the Methodist Church of Southern Africa, is in danger of embodying or propagating a contemporary form of “state theology.” The notion of state theology in the South African context gained prominence through the publication of the Kairos Document(1985)—which celeb...
Article
Forgiveness is a deeply contested theological notion in contemporary South African theology and society. same could be said for South African theologies of reconciliation, of which forgiveness is considered to be a part. Some claim that these concepts have been weakened, abused, and corrupted. In particular, there are doubts whether forgiveness hol...
Article
Full-text available
Why would white South Africans want to be forgiven? Is it in order to secure their future, or to escape from their past? Why is it that some black South Africans find forgiveness to be impossible in the current social and political reality? Forgiveness, as a theological and social discourse in South Africa, is deeply contested. This research shows...
Article
Full-text available
Forster, Dion A. “Preserving Religious Freedom When (Some) Churches Abuse Their Members?” Academic. Counterpoint: Navigating Knowledge (blog), December 4, 2018. https://www.counterpointknowledge.org/preserving-religious-freedom-when-some-churches-abuse-their-members/.
Article
This article will begin with a discussion of the distinctive ways in which the notion of Christian perfection is understood in Southern African Methodism by reflecting on how Methodists in Southern Africa have understood, perhaps even misunderstood, the emphasis on “social holiness” as a Christian response to the oppression of colonialism and apart...
Book
n light of the numerous challenges posed by globalization, living together as humanity on one planet needs to be reinvented in the twenty-first century. To create a new, peaceful, just, and sustainable world order is vital to the survival of us all. In this regard, humankind will have to expand the limited scope of its moral imagination beyond the...
Presentation
This paper was presented as one of the main panels at the American Academy of religion in Denver, CO, 18 November 2018. The video of the panel can be viewed here: https://youtu.be/7lZzbCQeXP8 2018 Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Religion November 18 Denver, Colorado Much work has been done—and done at the AAR--on the rise of US popul...
Chapter
Full-text available
Some of my work on the politics of forgiveness was featured in the 100th celebration of research at Stellenbosch University: Forster, Dion A. ‘Research on Forgiveness - Dion Forster’. In Research at Stellenbosch University: Showcasing Research Excellence 100 Years, edited by Eugene Cloete, 29–31. Stellenbosch: Stellenbosch University, 2018.
Chapter
This chapter considers compassion at the intersections of cognitive neuroscience and theology. It is a contribution to studies in human dignity which draws upon insights from both subjective and the objective knowledge sources. The argument first problematizes the complexity of knowledge that is largely subjective or largely objective, suggesting t...
Article
Full-text available
Forster, Dion A. “Social Media as Religion – Unexamined Desire and (Mis-in)Formation: Social Media as Religion – a Tale of Unexamined Desire and (Mis-in)Formation.” Academic. Counterpoint Navigating Knowledge (blog), September 5, 2018. https://www.counterpointknowledge.org/social-media-as-religion-unexamined-desire-and-mis-information/.
Chapter
Full-text available
Diversity management, which is well established as a concept in many industrialized economies, has not been understood in its broadest sense within most African workplaces. Additionally, an uncritical adoption of Westernized diversity management practices within Africa leaves it vulnerable to the further exploitation of human potential through maxi...
Article
This edition of the International Journal for Public Theology contains a number of articles from the most recent gathering of the Global Network for Public Theology (GNPT). The triennial conference was hosted by the Beyers Naudé Centre for Public Theology at Stellenbosch University, South Africa, during October 2016. This particular event was the f...
Preprint
Full-text available
Forgiveness, as a theological and social discourse in South Africa, is deeply contested. Numerous South African scholars and activists have raised concerns about the transactional nature of the concept of forgiveness . Moreover, interpersonal socio-political factors such as the nature of the historical offence, whether reparation has been made (or...
Article
Full-text available
In recent decades, there has been a resurgence of interest in discourses of secular and Christian humanism. This interest engages the question of what it means to be truly human, and what the implications of true humanity are for individuals and society. The genesis of theological and secular humanisms stemsfrom the Eastern Orthodox doctrine of the...
Chapter
Religious Diversity in the Workplace - edited by Jawad Syed December 2017
Chapter
The insights in these 90+ essays are nothing short of inspiring! Their tips on best practices for social engagement, time management, social media as a resource for scholarship or creativity, technology and pedagogy, etc. will help readers tremendously. The contributors are diverse. They include.... - Public theologians like Ben Corey, Brian McLa...
Data
The study this dataset is part of focusses on intercultural Biblical hermeneutics and was necessary to gain insights into how the participants understood concepts and processes of forgiveness when reading Matthew 18.15-35. Moreover, since social identity complexity theory plays an important role in intercultural hermeneutics, it was necessary to...
Data
The study this datasets is part of focusses on intercultural Biblical hermeneutics and was necessary to gain insights into how the participants understood concepts and processes of forgiveness when reading Matthew 18.15-35. Moreover, since social identity complexity theory plays an important role in intercultural hermeneutics, it was necessary to g...
Article
Full-text available
This article engages with the Missional Framework Document of the Dutch Reformed Church (DRC) from the perspectives of solidarity with the poor and justice for South African society. The democratic South Africa continues to face significant socio-economic problems and an increasingly dissatisfied population. In the light of this, the article presen...
Article
Full-text available
This article presents a novel Biblical ethical hermeneutic approach that emerges from an understanding of the presence of the kingdom of God in the Biblical text. The approach is predicated upon the use of speech act theory (abbreviated as SAT) in relation to 'kingdom language' in the Biblical text. The approach shows how the notion of kingdom lang...
Article
Full-text available
Some 20 years after the dawn of participative democracy, there is little noticeable or substantial change in the living conditions of the average South African. The country remains divided by race, class and economics. Poverty, inequality and racial enmity remain looming challenges to human flourishing and social transformation. Some have begun to...
Article
Full-text available
This article takes the form of an appreciative contextual response to the notion of ‘just health’ that is formulated in Jean-Pierre Wils’ article, ‘Is there a future for medical ethics?’ It approaches the notion of just health in the South African context from a public theological vantage point. The article addresses the issues of justice, care and...
Article
Full-text available
Recent research by the Call42 group has shown that South African Christians experience that they are not adequately prepared or equipped for Christian living and discipleship in the world of work – here called the marketplace. This article has argued for the importance of a rediscovery of a theology of work that can empower and equip the church and...
Article
Full-text available
This article considers whether South Africa's largest mainline Christian denomination, the Methodist Church of Southern Africa, is in danger of embodying or propagating a contemporary form of 'state theology'. The notion of state theology in the South African context gained prominence through the publication of the 'Kairos Document' (1985) – which...
Article
Full-text available
David Korten proposes a Fourth Generation approach (1990) to development that is value driven and sees social movements take centre stage in promoting a more just global society. Theologian Ignatius Swart (2006) has argued that Korten's approach holds significant value for civil society role players such as the church, whose value-driven agenda may...
Chapter
The Bible has the unfortunate legacy of being associated with gross human rights violations as evident in the scriptural justification of apartheid in South Africa as well as slavery in the American South. What is more, the Hebrew Bible also contains numerous instances in which the worth or dignity of the female characters are threatened, violated...
Article
Full-text available
What hope is there for South Africa? What role can the church play as a bearer of hope in South Africa? This article seeks to address these important questions. Firstly, it problematises the contemporary notion of hope in South Africa by showing that it is a complex theological and social concept. Next, a nuanced understanding of hope is presented...
Book
Full-text available
Th e Bible has the unfortunate legacy of being associated with gross human rights violations as evident in the scriptural justification of apartheid in South Africa as well as slavery in the American South. What is more, the Hebrew Bible also contains numerous instances in which the worth or dignity of the female characters are threatened, violated...
Article
Full-text available
Very little empirical research has been conducted into faith and work, particularly as it relates to the experience and expectations of Christians in the world of work in South Africa. This article discusses the most recent research of this kind that was conducted by Call42. Call42 conducted an empirical research project on faith, calling, and the...
Article
Full-text available
African theology has a great deal to contribute to the theological discourse on human identity. Relationships are central to the formation, expression and understanding of who an individual person is. The African philosophy of ubuntu, more accurately expressed as umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu (a person is a person through other persons), affirms the cri...
Book
Full-text available
Alan Griffiths was born at Walton-on Thames, England in 1906. He was educated at Christ's Hospital and later at Oxford (under the tutelage ofC.S. Lewis). At Oxford he read English literature and philosophy. After considerable inner turmoil he was converted to Christianity in 1931 and entered the Roman Catholic Church in 1933. As a novice Benedictin...
Article
Full-text available
Word processed copy. Thesis (D. Th.)--University of South Africa, 2006. Includes bibliographical references (leaves 328-347).

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Projects (11)
Project
A religião é a força mais construtiva e mais destrutiva do nosso tempo? (Ph. Jenkins). A religião sempre interagiu, de modo tanto construtivo quanto destrutivo, com o político. A secularização, a modernização, a democracia e o estado constitucional de direito pareciam relegar o religioso para o âmbito meramente privado. Isto não se confirmou: a adesão a uma diversidade cada vez maior a expressões religiosas e a sua incidência na esfera pública está crescendo. Sendo importantes fontes de recursos para a solidariedade e a proteção da dignidade humana, das quais o estado moderno não deve privar-se (Habermas), em países do Sul Global como no Brasil e na África do Sul são instituições de relações, apoio e cuidado, material e espiritual, sem cuja capilaridade a situação de sobrevivência seria muito mais precária. Sendo que religiões interferem também na política, seja para garantir seus direitos, seja para obter privilégios, seja para contribuir com o bem comum, seja para buscar hegemonia, urgem análises e reflexões crítico-construtivas em perspectiva interdisciplinar e intercultural. A hipótese principal é que tal situação, por um lado, torna urgente posturas e ações do estado laico quanto à garantia da liberdade religiosa, a isonomia e a equidistância no trato das religiões por parte do estado, responsabilizando-se pela manutenção da paz social. Por outro lado, é tarefa de reflexão, crítica e autocrítica, das próprias religiões sobre a pertinência de sua atuação no espaço público diante do regramento jurídico em vigor e de suas convicções específicas. Para tanto, as contribuições previstas neste projeto juntam saberes da Teologia, das Ciências da Religião, da Filosofia, da História, do Direito e das Ciências Sociais em projetos que analisam populismo, conservadorismo, secularidade, ética, racionalidade, o uso de plataformas digitais, reações diante da pandemia, Ensino Religioso e violência de gênero. Metodologicamente, trata-se de pesquisa bibliográfica e documental.