More Information
ISBN: 9781783687725
Imprint: Langham Monographs
Format: Paperback
Dimensions (mm): 229 x 152 x 19
Publication Date: 31/01/2020
Pages: 352
Language: English

Theology of Reconciliation in the Context of Church Relations

A Palestinian Christian Perspective in Dialogue with Miroslav Volf


Christians are called to be peacemakers in a world rife with conflict, but how should Christians respond when the source of strife is not outside the church but within it?

Built on an in-depth analysis of three Palestinian church splits, this text examines the cultural and theological implications of intra-church conflict in Arab evangelical communities in Israel. Translating Miroslav Volf’s formative theology of reconciliation into her contemporary Palestinian context, Dr Rula Khoury Mansour provides a critical evaluation of both Volf’s theory and Palestinian peacemaking models. Through her research and analysis, Dr Mansour develops a Middle Eastern theology of reconciliation and encourages congregations around the world to develop greater cultural and theological awareness in their quest to experience lasting peace within their churches and wider communities.

Author Bios

Rula Khoury Mansour

RULA KHOURY MANSOUR has a PhD in Peace Studies and Theology from Oxford Centre for Mission Studies, UK. A lawyer and a theologian, she serves as an independent conflict resolution specialist and is the Director of Peace Studies at Nazareth Evangelical College, Israel. She is also a lecturer in the PhD program at the International Graduate School of Leadership, Quezon City, Philippines. Having earned her law degree from The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel, she worked as a public prosecutor for thirteen years and was the first Palestinian to be appointed deputy head of a public prosecution office in Israel. Rula and her husband, Bader, live in Nazareth with their three sons, Adi, Rami and Sami.


The theology of Croatian thinker Miroslav Volf is reaching a high level of recognition and acceptance among Christian theologians in different parts of the world.This book by Palestinian evangelical Rula Khoury Mansour is a valuable effort of an insider researcher to use Volf’s theology as a frame of reference in order to understand church conflicts in her country and respond to them from a pastoral and contextual perspective. I hope that Ms Khoury’s methodology and conclusions will inspire similar efforts to understand conflicts and respond pastorally to them in other conflictive areas of the world today.

Samuel Escobar, PhD
Emeritus Professor of Missiology, Palmer Theological Seminary, Pennsylvania, USA

In 1996 Miroslav Volf in his book Exclusion and Embrace: A Theological Exploration of Identity, Otherness, and Reconciliation offered the church a good service by calling her to understand the metaphor of salvation as reconciliation. In reality, it is God’s call to the church to realize its task to be an agent of peace and reconciliation as she serves in the midst of fragmented societies. Dr Khoury Mansour has taken that call forward to apply it to a complicated Middle Eastern context where splits and strife are, unfortunately, part of our daily life. She approaches the topic not just with deep sociological and theological interaction but also with much compassion and sensitivity. I am also delighted that Dr Khoury Mansour is the first female Langham Graduate from the MENA region, and I am hoping that she will be the first among many female scholars to follow her steps in the near future.

Riad Kassis, PhD
Director, Langham Scholars

In this work, Dr Mansour joins a plethora of gifted women theologians whose impact is glocal. She honors the Prince of Peace in his own hometown as she addresses church conflicts among Palestinian Baptist Churches in Nazareth and the rest of Galilee. In the footsteps of Jesus of Nazareth she masterfully provides an inspiring and challenging theology of reconciliation, engaging both Palestinian culture as well as the theology of Miroslav Volf. Her theoretical and practical insights combine Western and Eastern discussions into an informative, inspiring, and challenging discourse that calls us to be a community of forgivers and agents of reconciliation.

Rev Professor Yohanna Katanacho, PhD
Academic Dean, Nazareth Evangelical College, Israel

In this original book, Dr Khoury Mansour presents a composite, culturally sensitive model of conflict transformation. Beyond the thick, multi-layered analysis of one particular intra-church conflict, this book provides an important inspiration to those seeking to promote peace and reconciliation within and across communities.

Amalia Sa’ar, PhD
Associate Professor of Anthropology,
University of Haifa, Israel

This is an innovative and compelling book on conflict and reconciliation in church. It is based on close ethnographic research and careful theological analysis, and its author has extensive experience both as a public prosecutor and an active church member. A unique and exemplary book.

Miroslav Volf, Dr Theol Habil
Henry B. Wright Professor of Theology, Yale Divinity School, Connecticut, USA
Founder and Director, Yale Center for Faith and Culture

Table of Contents

  1. Abstract
  2. Acknowledgments
  3. List of Abbreviations
  4. Chapter 1 Introduction
    1. 1.1 Research Question
    2. 1.2 Palestinian Evangelicals in Israel: A Threefold Minority
    3. 1.3 Palestinian Arab Culture
      1. 1.3.1 Patriarchal Relations
      2. 1.3.2 Honour and Shame
    4. 1.4 Church Conflict
      1. 1.4.1 The Nature of Church Conflict
      2. 1.4.2 The Resolution of Church Conflict
      3. 1.4.3 Conflict and Power
      4. 1.4.4 Church Split/Exit: Impact of Congregational Characteristics
    5. 1.5 Theology of Reconciliation
      1. 1.5.1 Introduction
      2. 1.5.2 Palestinian Protestant Theology of Reconciliation
      3. 1.5.3 Miroslav Volf ’s Theology of Reconciliation
    6. 1.6 Plan of the Thesis
  5. Chapter 2 Methodology
    1. 2.1 Theoretical Framework and Epistemological Perspective
      1. 2.1.1 Practical Theology
      2. 2.1.2 Epistemological Perspective
    2. 2.2 Choice of Qualitative Methodology and Methods Used in the Study
      1. 2.2.1 Theology and Fieldwork
      2. 2.2.2 Participant Observation
      3. 2.2.3 Interviews
      4. 2.2.4 Textual Resources
      5. 2.2.5 Focus Group
    3. 2.3 Research Plan
      1. 2.3.1 First Phase: Field Mapping
      2. 2.3.2 Second Phase: Case Studies
      3. 2.3.3 Third Phase: Theoretical Analysis
    4. 2.4 Content Analysis
    5. 2.5 Research Ethics
    6. 2.6 My Own Position in the Field
    7. 2.7 Reflexivity
  6. Chapter 3 The Environment of the Palestinian Baptist Churches in Israel
    1. 3.1 Introduction
    2. 3.2 The Environment of the Palestinian Baptist Churches Before the Missionaries’ Departure (1911–1990)
      1. 3.2.1 Historical Background
      2. 3.2.2 Political, Social and Economic Factors
      3. 3.2.3 Church Conflict between 1948 and 1990
    3. 3.3 The Environment of the Palestinian Baptist Churches after the Missionaries’ Departure (1990–2016)
      1. 3.3.1 Identity
      2. 3.3.2 Social Factors
      3. 3.3.3 Economic Factors
      4. 3.3.4 Cultural Factors
      5. 3.3.5 Theological Factors
      6. 3.3.6 Structural Factors
    4. 3.4 Statistics of Splits and Exits in the Baptist Churches in Israel
      1. 3.4.1 Splits and Exits between 1990 and 2005
      2. 3.4.2 Splits and Exits between 2006 and 2016
    5. 3.5 Conclusion
  7. Chapter 4 The Nature and Causes of Church Conflict in Three Case Studies of Palestinian Baptist Churches in Israel
    1. 4.1 Introduction
    2. 4.2 Historical Background of the Three Churches and Their Conflicts
      1. 4.2.1 Case Study A
      2. 4.2.2 Case Study B
      3. 4.2.3 Case Study C
    3. 4.3 Primary Factors Contributing to the Conflicts
      1. 4.3.1 Theological Factor: Tension between Episcopalian/Sacramental versus Congregationalist/Functionalist
      2. 4.3.2 Socio-Cultural Factor: Tension between Traditional/Patriarchal versus Modern/Democratic Ethos
    4. 4.4 Secondary Factors Contributing to the Conflicts
      1. 4.4.1 Church Buildings
      2. 4.4.2 Women’s Informal Power
      3. 4.4.3 Economic Factors
    5. 4.5 Conclusion
  8. Chapter 5 Conflict Management Practices in Three Cases of Palestinian Baptist Churches in Israel
    1. 5.1 Introduction
    2. 5.2 Cultural Models: Tension between Sulha and Alternative-Legal Approaches
      1. 5.2.1 The Middle Eastern Tradition of Sulha
      2. 5.2.2 Alternative-Legal Approach
      3. 5.2.3 Comparison between Sulha and Alternative-Legal Approaches
    3. 5.3 Christian Approach: Tension between Traditional Palestinian Churches and Western-Baptist Approaches
      1. 5.3.1 Traditional Palestinian Church Approach
      2. 5.3.2 Western-Baptist Approach
    4. 5.4 Local Palestinian Baptists’ Conflict Management Practices in the Three Case Studies
      1. 5.4.1 Sulha Approach
      2. 5.4.2 Alternative-Legalistic Approach
      3. 5.4.3 Hierarchical Approach
      4. 5.4.4 Western-Baptist Approach
    5. 5.5 Conclusion
  9. Chapter 6 Theology of Remembrance
    1. 6.1 Introduction
    2. 6.2 Volf ’s Theology of Remembrance
      1. 6.2.1 How Do We “Remember Rightly”?
      2. 6.2.2 How Long Should We Remember?
    3. 6.3 Remembrance in the Case Studies
      1. 6.3.1 Hierarchical Approach
      2. 6.3.2 Sulha and Alternative-Legalistic Approaches
      3. 6.3.3 Western-Baptist Approach
    4. 6.4 Challenges and Recommendations
  10. Chapter 7 Theology of Forgiveness
    1. 7.1 Volf ’s Theology of Forgiveness
      1. 7.1.1 Understand God’s Forgiveness
      2. 7.1.2 How Should We Forgive
      3. 7.1.3 How Can We Forgive?
      4. 7.1.4 A Cultural Critique of Volf ’s Theme of Forgiveness in Light of Local Culture (Sulha)
    2. 7.2 Theology of Forgiveness in the Case Studies
      1. 7.2.1 Hierarchical Approach
      2. 7.2.2 Sulha Approach
      3. 7.2.3 Alternative-Legalistic Approach
      4. 7.2.4 Western-Baptist Approach
    3. 7.3 Challenges and Recommendations
  11. Chapter 8 Theology of Justice
    1. 8.1 Volf ’s Theology of Justice
      1. 8.1.1 Seeking Justice
      2. 8.1.2 Justice as a Dimension of Embrace
    2. 8.2 Theology of Justice in the Case Studies
      1. 8.2.1 Hierarchical Approach
      2. 8.2.2 Sulha Approach
      3. 8.2.3. Alternative-Legalistic Approach
      4. 8.2.4 Western-Baptist Approach
    3. 8.3 Challenges and Recommendations
  12. Chapter 9 Theology of Embrace
    1. 9.1 Volf ’s Theology of Embrace
      1. 9.1.1 The Social Construction of Identity
      2. 9.1.2 The Self and Its Centre
      3. 9.1.3 Embrace
    2. 9.2 Theology of Embrace in the Case Studies
      1. 9.2.1 Hierarchical Approach
      2. 9.2.2 Sulha Approach
      3. 9.2.3 Alternative-Legalistic Approach
      4. 9.2.4 Western-Baptist Approach
    3. 9.3 Challenges and Recommendations
    4. 9.4 Personal Agency
    5. 9.5 Summary Analysis of the Four Approaches in Light of Volf ’s Model (Table)
  13. Chapter 10 Recommendations and Conclusion
    1. 10.1 Findings and Recommendations
      1. 1. Community
      2. 2. Formality
      3. 3. Venting
      4. 4. Dignity restoration
      5. 5. Nonlinear structure
      6. 6. Conditional/unconditional forgiveness
      7. 7. Justice as Restoration of Broken Relationships
    2. 10.2 Contribution to Existing Body of Knowledge
    3. 10.3 Limitation and Scope for Further Research
  14. Appendix 1 Arab Palestinian Baptists in Israel: A Threefold Minority
  15. Appendix 2 Parachurch Members in the Convention of Evangelical Churches in Israel (CECI) Established since 1985
  16. Appendix 3 List of Interviewees (In-depth Interviews)
  17. Appendix 4 Excerpts from the Constitution of the Association of Baptist Churches in Israel (ABC)
  18. Glossary
  19. Bibliography

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