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World religions as resource to peace and well-being: John Hicks Christian theology of religions and its relevance to KwaZulu-Natal (South Africa)

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South Africa, like other postcolonial nations, has undergone and continues to undergo series of religious, economic, social, and political transformations that continue to shape the country and the lives of its citizens. With the dawn of democracy in South Africa, the society not only faced socio-economic challenges related to racist segregationist policies of the Apartheid era, but also religio-culture challenges related to the recognition of religious rights and freedoms variously privileged and denied under Apartheid. Thus, with the advent of democracy, religious communities increasingly turned to the courts to adjudicate over interreligious tensions and conflicts, instead of fostering dialogue. To ascertain how ordinary South Africans, experience their day-to-day interreligious living and contact, the thesis focuses on one aspect of this social transformation and proposes to examine and hypothesise about world religions as a resource to peace and well-being. Thus, this study tests John Hick's theology of world religions as a resource for well-being’ against the lived experiences of South African faith communities. To achieve this, I engaged in extended fieldwork which included semi-structured individual interviews, and observation of the inter-religious contact and collaboration among the various South Africans – especially Muslim, Christian, Jewish, Hindu, African Indigenous, and Buddhist believers resident in KwaZulu-Natal. The study found out that, among South Africans, there are multifaceted understandings, dialogues, and forms of networking, as they face rapid social transformation in our pluralistic world. The broad conclusions of the study were two-fold: Firstly, it provided some preliminary ideas about the need for a postcolonial theology of religions and what it would look like in the South African context by drawing in indigenous ideas about humanness (ubuntu) and well-being (impilo). Secondly, the analysis suggests that Southern or African ideas of well-being incorporates being in good relations with God, ancestors, neighbours and with nature. This not only reveals something about the limits of Hick's theology as Christian normative and Eurocentric but also how the postcolonial context opens new avenues for thinking about theology of religions.


Doctoral Degree.University of KwaZulu-Natal,Pietermaritzburg.