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'Will It Happen Again?' Reflections On Reconciliation and Structural Contraception1

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The essay deals with the inability of churches and individuals to take the indispensable next step of radically recasting their reading practices of the Bible in a post-apartheid society. Failure to remodel the premises and practices of Bible interpretation results in a sense of betrayal. Although the theological justification for apartheid might be confessed as a sin, the reading practices of the Bible that allowed for a theological justification never changed. However, a confession regarding apartheid entails a critique of the values embedded in the stories of the Old Testament in particular. Once this is recognised, it will be easier to argue a case for a better dispensation for women in those churches in which they are excluded from church offices. The essay discusses the recent female uproar in the Gereformeerde Kerke of South Africa against gender discrimination in their structures of power. The essay also responds to the crisis of faith generated in the laity by some of the confessions. It is argued that the laity had no means of recognising the falseness of the previous ideologically inspired apartheid readings of the Bible, because the leadership of the churches never provided them with the tools of responsible criticism. The reading practices of the past acted as a protective sheath for the theological justification of apartheid. For the confessions of the churches to become meaningful at all, and not tainted by smacks of political opportunism, a call is made for a more critical approach to the values embedded in the Bible stories.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Old Testament University of South Africa PO Box 392, Pretoria, 0003 Republic of South Africa

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