Influence of social context on a theology of reconciliation: case studies in Northern Ireland
Robinson, Leah Elizabeth
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The theology of reconciliation, as it applies to God’s relationship with humanity, has been studied extensively throughout ecclesial history. Currently, theologians are expanding this research to include the “horizontal” element of reconciliation, or the implications of God’s relationship with humanity on human to human relations. This dissertation further examines the development of the horizontal understanding of the theology of reconciliation in the context of two Christian reconciliation communities in Northern Ireland, the Corrymeela and Cornerstone Communities. This is attempted by exploring the use of the concepts most commonly associated with the theology of reconciliation, truth, justice, repentance and forgiveness, as interpreted through past publications of Cornerstone and Corrymeela and in interviews with current members. This study illustrates, through the use of a theology of reconciliation model, how the social context moves one’s theological beliefs between a focus on liberating tendencies (justice and truth) and reconciling tendencies (repentance and forgiveness). The result of this analysis show that within both Communities, throughout the years of the Troubles to now, it has been possible to map a movement between a focus on reconciling and liberating tendencies that correlates to the stability of the social context. Implications for further study include: creating a clearer definition of the theology of reconciliation, exploring the theology of reconciliation within other conflict-ridden areas, and working to establish the theology of reconciliation as existing under the umbrella of traditionally understood local theology.