The religious identity of the church and its social and political mission in South Africa 1948-1984 : a historical and theological analysis
This study is concerned with the identity of the Church and its social and political mission in South Africa. Here the argument is that the religious identity of the Church is fulfilled in the realization of the Kingdom of God through the historical event of incarnation which liberates human identity from oppression and alienation. This doctrine in turn, it is contended, depends for its relevance upon the significance of the concepts of prolepsis and commitment for the mission of the Church, Prolepsis signifies that the Church exists to bear witness to that which has come and is coming in Jesus Christ, In this way the thesis attempts to situate the proclamation of the Kingdom of God in relation to a particular problem of oppression and exploitation in South Africa, Hence commitment should be understood as the fulfilment of Black identity and thus as a liberation which brings about the transformation of the South African identity as a whole. In this thesis the hermeneutic circle as a theory of interpretation is applied in the theological and historical analysis of the South African social formation. Part One of the thesis lays the theoretical foundations of the study by developing the hypothesis and discussing identity theories and methodology. Part Two contains an analysis of South African social reality in which the variable of class is identified as that which underpins the South African social structure. Consequently, Apartheid is explained with reference to the economy rather than race. It is an economic rather than a racial factor. Part Three consists of a theological and sociological analysis of South Africa; it employs the Marxist social theory of alienation and applies the conception of identity advocated by the Liberation Movements of Southern Africa, particularly the African National Congress. It is concluded that the religious identity is a crucial factor in the emergence of a full humanity.