The Theology of Otherness in the Shadow of a Pandemic – Pastoral theology in the process of Christian formation, resilience, and well-being, using EQ-self & EQ-others

The Theology of Otherness has originated conceptually from identifying the “other” and “otherness” in the exploration of the perception of an individual’s or groups’ notion of human identity and self-definition. The value judgements promulgated by our contemporary society, under the auspices of Individualism, have saturated our church communities to the effect of alienating and oppressing those for whom the hegemony of the successful self-made and independent individual provides little comfort.

The “other” – represented by any group or individual perceived as being different in some maladjusted or misanthropic fashion, or somehow merely being different, has erstwhile been feared and shunned. This current pandemic has at times brought out the best in people towards the “other”, and at other times the worst – from scenes of unmerited kindness and humanity, to the scenes of panic buying of toilet paper. Emotional intelligence (EQ) is essential for negotiating the current fluctuating interpersonal and intrapersonal environment.

The intrinsic value of the personhood of God, the intrinsic value of the personhood of humanity, the intrinsic value of a personal relationship with God, and the intrinsic value of relationships person to person, are prominent reasons to develop and use EQ, as we engage with others (EQ-others), as we reflect and recognize our place as an “other” (EQ-self), and as we pastor in our churches and communities.

God, “the Holy one” as revealed in Scripture (e.g. Job 6:10) is set apart by his “otherness” of holiness and moral purity. This calls attention to God’s perspective of worth. The Lord Jesus, “the image of the invisible God” (Col 1:15), is the great “Other.” The Lord Jesus is set apart by his holiness and morally pure “otherness” and in turn was exceedingly despised in order to enact our salvation.