“A Theological Paradigm – Spirituality – as a belief synthesis in a religious, dogmatic, and philosophical context,” pursues an understanding of spirituality from a theological paradigm within a religious, dogmatic, and philosophical context. Contemporary manifestations of practical and relevant day-to-day situations are taken as vantage points in order to unfold the meaning and implications of stories as metaphors for reality. Two basic statements guide the unfolding of the research process, namely firstly that a belief synthesis is shaped by religion as foundation. It entails that the belief synthesis represents a living framework that incorporates the origin, different definitions, worldwide landscapes, religious movements, as well as the epistemic understanding of spiritual and religious experiences. Secondly, that a belief synthesis incorporates spirituality as an experience. It entails that in this experience of spirituality, the following constitutive dimensions and developments can be distinguished: the relation between religion and spirituality, the revival of the academic discipline spirituality, a working definition of spirituality, which includes a general theory of spirituality and methodological aspects of spiritual development. To develop the research focus on the belief synthesis as a theological paradigm, specific theological and philosophical aspects of the palaeontologist-theologian Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (1881-1955) and the German American systematic theologian Paul Tillich (1886-1965) are investigated. With regard to Teilhard de Chardin, the emphasis falls on his development of a positive process - a new kind of spirit (Hope) – that humans can experience in their contemporary evolving worlds. With regard to Tillich, the emphasis falls on his method of correlation explaining the contents of the Christian faith through existential questions and theological answers in mutual interdependence. The research focus on mentioned theologians brings about a closer but different clarification of the term spirituality as belief synthesis in religion as well as the influence of Christian spirituality and the impact that it had on our quest to understand the Christian experience in Christian spirituality. The closer, but different clarification of the term spirituality is elaborated on and subsequently justified by a discussion of different definitions of Christian spirituality, as well as a tentative indication of the road to a new kind of Christian spirituality - which entails a transformation of Christian spirituality that includes mysticism. Finally, the terms Spirit and Hope are identified and discussed as integral parts of the belief synthesis as theological paradigm. At the same time, their significance respectively for the belief synthesis are indicated. The importance and crucial role of hermeneutics are subsequently elucidated within the theological paradigm of spirituality. The research conclusion culminates in the open statement that more than one religion, philosophy, or intuitive infinite belief can be accommodated in a person’s religious life and can satisfy humans in their expectations, experiences, hopes, and fears, in their vulnerable existence.
Dissertation (MA(Theol))--University of Pretoria, 2011.