Original Research - Special Collection: Law and Justice Conference

A theological response to collective trauma in South Africa

Willem A. Dreyer
In die Skriflig/In Luce Verbi | Vol 54, No 1 | a2578 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ids.v54i1.2578 | © 2020 Willem A. Dreyer | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 29 November 2019 | Published: 21 December 2020

About the author(s)

Willem A. Dreyer, Department: Systematic and Historical Theology, Faculty of Theology and Religion, University of Pretoria, Pretoria; Centre for Reformed Theology, Hervormde Teologiese Kollege, Pretoria, South Africa


This contribution in the field of public theology explores two questions: (1) Could South Africa be regarded as a traumatised society, presenting with acute symptoms of post-traumatic disorder and (2) what would be an appropriate theological response to a traumatised society? These questions became even more acute with the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic during 2020. Historical events and current statistical data relevant to the first question are presented, which could indicate that South Africa might indeed be regarded as a highly traumatised society. The second question is discussed from the perspective of reformed theology. This limits the research focus, based on the assumption that all theology and all churches respond in a particular way to traumatic events and the effects of individual and collective trauma.


Apartheid; Barth; Calvin; Christian Institute; Collective trauma; Colonialism; Cottesloe Conference; Crime statistics in South Africa; Public Theology; Reformed Theology


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Crossref Citations

1. The Trauma of Secularisation in Afrikaans Reformed Churches
Christina Landman, Tanya Pieterse
Studia Historiae Ecclesiasticae  vol: 49  issue: 2  year: 2023  
doi: 10.25159/2412-4265/13272