Methodist Church PhD Candidate Successfully Defends Thesis to PTC Board of Examiners

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The Pacific Theological College (PTC) in Suva Fiji have announced that Piula Samuelu, a PhD candidate from the Methodist Church in Samoa, has successfully defended his thesis to the Board of Examiners and shall be conferred his doctorate in the upcoming November graduation.

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The PTC Board of Examiners consists of three professors from South Africa, Australia, and New Zealand.

The title of Reverand Dr Piula Samuelu’s thesis is: “Decolonizing Grace: A Faapalepale Restorative Theology from a Samoan Perspective.”

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“In my current pursuit, I continued to seek out and critique those ‘grace theologies’ where love and servitude are deeply bound together for better or for worse,” said Reverand Dr Samuelu of his thesis.

“This led me to evident asymmetries of power where God’s grace was no longer treated as a free-flowing gift but an obligation tied to the human response”.

Rev Dr Samuelu said this motivated him to apply a more serious treatment of the doctrine of grace, its transmission and its colonial entanglements.

“In my thesis, I am constantly referring to this asymmetry of power as a “colonial underpinning” or “mindset.”…

“That is, a digestive force that was not only imposed on Samoan communities, but also self-imposed..

Rev Dr Piula Samuelu and his family. Photos: Pacific Theological College.

“This imperial mindset has roots in both the faith we inherited and in the Samoan culture too”.

Dr Samuelu explores beyond the limitations of current alofa tunoa theologies, and proposes an alternative translation of faapalepale.

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“This was done with the aim of decentralising the current view of grace,” he adds.

In his speech at a ceremony in Suva Thursday morning, Rev Dr Piula Samuelu thanked the college, the principal, the faculty, his supervisors, Rev Dr Faafetai Aiava (internal) and Distinguished Professor Joerg Rieger (external) from Vandabilt University.

He also acknowledged his PhD study partners and specially thanked his wife and children for their support.

Dr Samuelu hopes to graduate in the November ceremonies this year and shall return to serve his church and Samoa.

The Pacific Theological College congratulates Dr Samuelu on this milestone achievement.