In search of prophetic theology: South African political theology in conversation with Anabaptism.
Suderman, Andrew Gregory.
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The South African Kairos Document: A Challenge to the Church (KD) written in 1985 continues to be critically important even 30 years after its release. Its ongoing significance is due to three inter-related dynamics: a) the process by which the document was generated; b) the insightful analysis and bold proposal it contains; and c) its functional utility as a base-line against which progress can be measured. It has indeed provided the challenge it suggests. The purpose of this study is two-fold. The first is to offer a critical review and analysis of these three aspects of the document. The second is to recommend a few suggestions for a mid-course adjustment that could be helpful in the ongoing quest for ecclesial faithfulness within the South African context. This thesis suggests that, although the KD emerged as an example of the Prophetic Theology that it proposes as an antidote to the dominance of “Church and State Theologies,” such a depiction has itself been co-opted in the twenty-two years of post-apartheid ecclesial experience. The roots of this cooption are, primarily, threefold: an anemic eschatological perspective as too-soon realized in the overthrow of the apartheid regime; a too-optimistic view of the inherent benevolence of state power once in the hands of the formerly oppressed; and an under-rated comprehension of the nature of the church as an alternative politic within the realities of empire. This thesis further suggests that Anabaptism, a theological movement that emerged out of the struggle of re-defining the relationships between church and state since the 16th century, offers a helpful perspective as the South African church strives to take the next steps of faithfulness in its new post-apartheid political dispensation.