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Abstract

The church struggle against apartheid remains a key case study in ecumenical public theology, with particular relevance for the Reformed tradition. The importance of Christian theology in both the justification of and opposition to apartheid is well known. Also, the process of ecumenical discernment for responding to apartheid became a significant marker in global ecumenical reflection on what today we might describe as public theology. However, the idea of a theological struggle against apartheid risks ironing out the different theological positions that oppose apartheid. This article highlights some of the attempts to analyze the theological plurality in responses to apartheid. Then it proceeds to present an alternative way of viewing this plurality by focusing on the way in which different classic theological questions were drawn upon to analyze apartheid theologically. Using as examples the important theologians David Bosch, Simon Maimela, and Albert Nolan, it highlights how apartheid was described as a problem of ecclesiology, theological anthropology, and soteriology. It argues that this plurality of theological analyses allows us to rediscover theological resources that might be of particular significance as race and racism take on new forms in either democratic South Africa or the contemporary world. Simultaneously, it serves as a valuable example in considering a variety of theological questions when theologically reflecting on issues of public concern.

In: Journal of Reformed Theology