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Reformed Theology in South Africa: Black? Liberating? Public?

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This paper discusses the inherent public nature of Reformed theology and demonstrates how Reformed theology informed and enriched the discourses of black theology, liberation theology, and public theology in both apartheid and post-apartheid South Africa. Black, Reformed theologian Allan Boesak emphasized the reign of the Triune God in all walks of life. Reformed theologian John De Gruchy cherished the central notion in Reformed theology that God especially identifies with the poor, wronged, and most vulnerable. Finally, Reformed theologian Dirkie Smit demonstrates how Reformed theology assists the development of public theology by focusing, on the one hand, on the rich Christian confessional tradition, and on the other hand, by participating in pluralistic public debates on the basis of this rich tradition. Based on this discussion, some lessons for the development of public theology from the Reformed tradition are spelled out.

Affiliations: 1: Chair of systematic theology and ecclesiology, University of Stellenbosch in South Africa; Director, Beyers Naude Centre for Public Theology; Chairperson of the Global Network for Public Theology


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