Original Research

The doctrine of reconciliation: Its meaning and implications for social life

J.M. Vorster
In die Skriflig/In Luce Verbi | Vol 52, No 1 | a2367 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ids.v52i1.2367 | © 2018 Koos Vorster | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 14 March 2018 | Published: 05 November 2018

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J.M. Vorster, Unit for Reformed Theology and the Development of the SA Society, North-West University, South Africa

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Reconciliation as a socio-political concept, has become highly topical in the South African discourse about social transformation over the past two decades in the aftermath of Apartheid. The idea of reconciliation emanates from the Christian tradition and is deeply embedded in Christian theology. For many centuries, the concept was dealt with as a merely theological concept belonging to the field of systematic theology and the pious, mystical and spiritual experience of Christians. Can this idea be transferred to the socio-political realm? The purpose of this article is to venture an answer to this question. The central theoretical argument is that the theology of reconciliation deals intrinsically with new relationships, and that these relationships have a concrete socio-political and ethical meaning. The aim is firstly, to investigate the idea as a theological concept from a classic reformed perspective and to ascertain whether the theological meaning can be transferred to the socio-political context as is done today in secular politics. The article concludes by stating that the doctrine of reconciliation, as seen from a classic reformed perspective, can be applied to all kinds of relations and has a deep bearing on the redressing of broken relationships and social cohesion. Reconciliation also has implications for eco-ethics.


reconciliation; Christian theology; social cohesion; racism; sexism; socio-political; atonement; ecocide; cultural mandate


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