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The Confession of Belhar 1986: A Guide for Justice, Reconciliation, and Unity

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This paper argues that the Confession of Belhar 1986 articulates the story of the Triune God's work of justice, reconciliation, and unity. That story redeems the human stories of injustice, alienation, and division in South Africa. It transforms us into people who make new stories of justice, reconciliation, and unity. The story of Belhar serves as a staff for justice, reconciliation, and unity. The cry for justice, reconciliation, and unity is first outlined (1). Thereafter, Belhar's understanding of justice as compassionate justice (2), reconciliation as the overcoming of alienation between humans and God, and as the overcoming of estrangement among human beings, and reconciliation as embrace (3), and unity as unity in proximity (4) is discussed. Last, an appeal is made for the continued confession and embodiment of justice, reconciliation, and unity in and through churches as spaces of hope (5).

Affiliations: 1: Professor of Systematic Theology and Ethics, University of Stellenbosch, South Africa;, Email:


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