The Disintegration of Life in a Polarized Society: Surprised by the Integrating Power of Divine Righteousness

By Friedrich W. De Wet.

Published by The Humanities Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Researching the disintegrating forces at work in society is arguably one of the most relevant themes for Human Sciences.
Without integrating factors at work in its midst, society cannot prosper.
One of the most evident contemporary manifestations of disintegration can be found in the phenomenon of radical polarization. A person can find himself in the position where the notions and actions of the other is perceived as such a threat for the own life or is found to be so restrictive, that he is drawn in to a radicalized contra- viewpoint.
Drawn into fundamentalism, life may become pre-occupied and trapped in a self-righteous protection of the own cause. Not only is the own expression of life’s possibilities severely limited, but other human beings can be marginalized, oppressed and superficially condemned in the process.
Drawn into liberalism, life may become lost in an ocean of possibilities. The human spirit may become insensitive to structures that promote integrity in life and its relationships. Radicalized relativism may disintegrate the very fabric that holds society together.
Life cannot flourish in a polarized society.

This article researches the problem of radical polarization in human society from a practical theological perspective. Practical Theology researches the religious dimension in the actual and ideal actions (praxis) of humanity. The central problem that Practical Theology has to deal with is the hermeneutical question regarding the way in which Divine reality and human reality can be connected on the level of experience (Heitink, 1999: 193).

Christians finding themselves in a situation of polarization can be put under pressure to manipulate or relativize God and his Word (as written in the text of the Bible) -radicalizing polarity in the process. In this article the author explores the possibility a human interpreter listening to God’s life-restoring words of righteousness without being held in captivity by manipulative or relativizing motives. An attempt is made to open up the mind to God’s heavenly righteousness in Jesus Christ by means of a pneumatological reading of John 8:1-11. This text describes the acts and words of Jesus in dealing with the situation of a woman allegedly caught in the act of adultery. Jesus ministers the righteousness of his Father- a righteousness that surprises everyone with its truth-revealing and reconciling power; A righteousness that has the potential to open doors to fullness of integrated life for all parties involved- whether they were trapped in the haughty isolation of self-righteousness or drifting in the chaotic ocean of an unstable moral life.

Keywords: Polarization, Disintegration, Integration, Divine Rigteousness

The International Journal of the Humanities, Volume 5, Issue 2, pp.173-180. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 513.460KB).

Prof. Friedrich W. De Wet

Associate professor in Practical Theology, Faculty of Theology, NorthWest University, Potchefstroom, NorthWest Province, South Africa

Teaching Homiletics at the Faculty of Theology, Northwest University since January 2005 Giving study guidance to post-graduate students in the field of Practical Theology from a Reformed perspective Specializing in studying Homiletics from an aesthetic- theological point of view Keyword in theological approach: faith-perception.

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