Original Research

Doctrine as security? A systematic theological critique of the operational theological framework of the controversial South African neo-Pentecostal prophets

Collium Banda
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 77, No 4 | a6579 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v77i4.6579 | © 2021 Collium Banda | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 27 February 2021 | Published: 13 July 2021

About the author(s)

Collium Banda, Unit for Reformational Theology and the Development of the South African Society, Faculty of Theology, North-West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa


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Abstract

This research article uses the theoretical framework of doctrine as believer’s security to critique the theological framework behind the controversial activities reported amongst some South African neo-Pentecostal prophets (NPPs), which include feeding congregants with grass, spraying them with insecticides and sexual violation of women congregants. The framework of the article falls within the discipline of systematic theology by raising the importance for South African Christians to develop a critical doctrinal framework for protecting themselves from controversial NPPs. The following main question is answered by the article: from a systematic theological perspective, how can we evaluate the theological framework, which leads to the recent controversial activities reported amongst some NPPs in South Africa? Consequently, the article, firstly, describes the critical theological framework of the protective role of Christian doctrine. Secondly, it describes the South African NPPs and their controversial practices. Thirdly, this article analyses some of the theological problems in the current operative framework of NPPs. Fourthly, it argues for the need for doctrinally informed critical thinking as a safety measure against controversial NPPs. Finally, some steps that must be taken by NPPs to develop critical theological thinking in order to overcome doctrinally vacuous experientialism that promotes controversial religious activities are provided.

Contribution: From a systematic theological approach, this article attempts to demonstrate the importance of critical doctrinal thinking as a defence mechanism for protecting Christians from falling prey to harmful religious practices, such as those recently reported amongst some NPPs in South Africa.


Keywords

doctrine; South African neo-Pentecostal prophets; critical theological thinking; confession; spiritual experience; security in doctrine; doctrine as security

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