At a meeting of the UFS Council last year, a name change was accepted for the Faculty of Theology, renaming it to the Faculty of Theology and Religion.
This change signals openness in approach to other religions, in addition to those of Christian denominations. This is a development that took root in Europe a few years ago. Furthermore, a growing field of interest is the study of the impact religion has had and still has, even in highly secularised societies.
This name change is the first of its kind in South Africa, which means that the faculty will lead the way in transformation and impact-based religious studies.
Prof Fanie Snyman, Dean of the faculty, says of these refinements: “The new name and restructuring of departments will lead to a new synergy that will have an impact on our teaching and research in the faculty. Exciting times lie ahead for the Faculty of Theology and Religion!”
Apart from the change in the name of the faculty, departments within the faculty were also regrouped, with new names. The Departments of Old Testament and New Testament merged to become the Department of Old and New Testament Studies, while the Departments of Systematic Theology and Ecclesiology merged and will now be known as the Department of Historical and Constructive Theology.
The former Departments of Practical Theology and Missiology became the Department of Practical and Missional Theology. The Department of Religion Studies remained unchanged to emphasise the importance of religion in South Africa and the world at large.
The rationale for these groupings is the distinction of theological disciplines in terms of the study of texts (Old and New Testament), sources (Systematic Theology and Church History), and practices (Practical Theology and Missiology). One benefit of these newly-constructed departments is that they will be more cost-effective, but the more important advantage is that this will stimulate discussion and research across the various theological disciplines.
Bishop JM Khumalo, Apostolic Church of Christ; Prof Fanie Snyman, Dean of the Faculty of Theology and Religion; and Rev Simon Galada, Wesleyan Church, at the faculty’s official opening earlier this year. PHOTO: EUGENE SEEGERS