Confessing remorse about the evils of Apartheid: the Dutch Reformed Church in the Nineteen-Eighties

Monday, 29 October, 2018 - 15:00

Presented by : 

T. Dunbar

The transition in South Africa from apartheid to a constitutional democracy with equal rights for all has been described and celebrated in innumerable accounts. The best overview is probably Patti Waldmeir’s, Anatomy of a Miracle. What is missing from such stories, however, at least in English, is careful discussion of the role in the transformation process played by the Dutch Reformed churches (and other Afrikaner cultural organizations) in preparing Afrikaners for transition to democracy. The purpose of this paper is to examine theological debates and political struggles within the majority Nederduitse Gereformeerde Kerk (NGK) that led to public confession in 1990 of remorse about the evils of apartheid. The most fundamental change, however, came earlier, at the 1986 General Synod, well before F.W. de Klerk’s 1989 political leap forward. The paper seeks to describe personal, intellectual, cultural and political processes within the church that brought about this institutional transformation. "

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