|University of Otago
|Public; Theology; Core; Values; Domestic; Violence
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The purpose of this research is to formulate a theologically coherent perspective on the complex social and moral questions facing contemporary Samoan society. It does so by constructing a contextual Samoan public theology, based on the core Samoan-Christian values of alofa (love), fa’aaloalo (respect), soalaupule (consensual dialogue), tautua (selfless service) and amiotonu (justice). Drawing on scholarship on public theology, as well as relevant interdisciplinary sociological, cultural and religious studies, the thesis examines the nature and constituent elements of public theology, both in the West and in Samoa. To construct a framework for a public theology for Samoa based on its core values, the study examines the significance of the fa’asamoa (Samoan way of life) and its value system. Key to this framework is an understanding of the fusion between Samoan values and Christian values. Because ‘the public’ are the subjects of public theology, a crucial element of the construction of a Samoan public theology is the incorporation of the views of representative voices within Samoan society. Using constructivist grounded theory and talanoa Pacific research methodologies, seventy-five interviews from representatives of government, civil society, churches and villages garner valuable information on Samoans’ core values and their relevance for a public theology. The information on core values gleaned from research participants and other scholarship reveals how they can be brought to bear on social issues in the Samoan public sphere – the ‘why, who, what and how’ of a Samoan public theology. This collective knowledge suggests concrete ways of shaping theological discourse and moral action in contemporary Samoan society. The thesis ends with a contextual application of core Samoan-Christian values, as a public theology response to the social problem of domestic violence in Samoa.