Towards a Reconciling Church in South Africa
This paper seeks to locate the church as a role player in the ongoing discussion around reconciliation within the South African context. Seeing as reconciliation is understood and applied in different ways by different sectors of society, the paper starts by establishing a Biblical understanding on the subject. This is done by identifying central New Testament texts which it sees as primarily occurring in the Pauline corpus (2 Corinthians 5:17-21, Romans 5:8-11, Ephesians 2:13-16, and Colossians 1:15-23). The paper then turns to consider the possible contributions Pentecostal theology makes available to this discussion, focusing on eschatology, the empowerment of the Spirit, and social concern. The paper then contextualizes the conversation by considering the South African context, with focus given to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of 1996. These thoughts are then brought together in a discussion on the Church, and how through the Spirit, it finds itself uniquely positioned as a witness to inclusivity and reconciliation. The Biblical understanding of reconciliation is affirmed, as is the centrality of the Church, but that this still needs to be realized in local congregational gatherings is noted. As the paper takes a Pentecostal approach to reconciliation, the inclusivity of the community that emerged from the outpouring of the Spirit in Acts is considered, and parallels drawn to similar occurrences in the origins of Pentecostalism. It is therefore the premise of this paper that the Spirit empowers the Church, positioning it uniquely as an inclusive and reconciling community.
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