Original Research

Responsibility, God and society: The cry of the Other in the sacred texts as a challenge towards responsible global citizenship

Johann-Albrecht Meylahn
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 65, No 1 | a131 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v65i1.131 | © 2009 Johann-Albrecht Meylahn | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 16 March 2009 | Published: 21 April 2009

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Johann-Albrecht Meylahn, University of Pretoria, South Africa

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The article seeks to respond to the question: What role can the sacred texts play in the construction of a Christian identity that is responsible to the Other in a pluralistic global world? The sacred texts of the Judaic-Christian tradition offer not only an understanding of the wholly otherness of God, but also form the basis of our understanding and perception of humanity (anthropology), the world and ourselves (personhood/identity). This understanding is constructed in the context of responding to the call of the wholly Other and the others. Identities are traditionally constructed through the identification and exclusion of differences (otherness), thus leading to an ethic of exclusion and responsibility only to oneself/ourselves. Yet these identity-forming texts harbour a persistent otherness, which challenges these traditional identities by interrupting them with a call to responsibility toward the other. The otherness harboured in these texts takes various forms, namely: The otherness of the ancient world to our world, the otherness of the transcendental Other, and the otherness of the text itself, as there is always a différance that has not yet been heard. These various forms of otherness, of our identity-forming texts, deconstruct our identity constructions, thus calling us to a continuous responsibility towards the other. This call could form the basis of a Christian identity and ethic of global cosmopolitan citizenship that is always responding to the eschatological interruption by the other, who is not yet present or who has not been offered presence.


sacred texts; Christian identity; global citizenship; Christian anthropology; personhood and religious identity


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