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A Restless Presence: Church Activism and “Post-Apartheid,” “Post-Racial” Challenges

A Restless Presence: Church Activism and “Post-Apartheid,” “Post-Racial” Challenges

Chapter:
(p.13) A Restless Presence: Church Activism and “Post-Apartheid,” “Post-Racial” Challenges
Source:
Contesting Post-Racialism
Author(s):
Allan Boesak
Publisher:
University Press of Mississippi
DOI:10.14325/mississippi/9781628462005.003.0001

Focusing mainly on the South African context, this chapter discusses “church activism” while drawing distinctions between institutional churches and what Martin Luther King Jr. called “the church within the church” that is driven by a radical gospel of justice, hope and liberation. Examined here is the role of the church and of Christians in public affairs, as underpinned on the one hand by a theology of conquest, appropriation and justification, and on the other by a theology of prophetic challenge and resistance. This distinction has persisted throughout South Africa’s history and it has found expression in every era, sometimes in movements and sometimes in courageous, faithful individuals who carried the torch for prophetic Christian witness in South Africa. The chapter argues that the activist church will have to learn to see social realities “through the eyes of those who suffer” and in response to the urgent call of interreligious solidarity in the ongoing struggles against oppression. In this way radical, activist Christianity can continue to make its valuable contribution to a worldwide activism for the sake of the people of the world and the Earth, remaining a restless presence in the church and in the world.

Keywords:   South Africa, church activism, postracialism, post-apartheid, Christian radicalism

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