Apartheid Is a Heresy

Apartheid Is a Heresy

Apartheid Is a Heresy

Apartheid Is a Heresy

Excerpt

The decision by the World Alliance of Reformed Churches to declare apartheid a heresy is probably the most significant ecclesiastical event affecting the Churches in South Africa since the Cottesloe Consulation held in Johannesburg in 1961. This observation is confirmed by the widespread coverage which the decision received in the media as well as by the intense debate it provoked in church and political circles.

Cottesloe brought together the South African member Churches of the World Council of Churches in order to consult on the role of the Church in South Africa following the tragedy of Sharpeville. At that time the NGK Synods of the Cape and the Transvaal, as well as the NHK, were members of the WCC. The Consultation Statement issued by the delegates at the conclusion of their deliberations was far-reaching in its implications for the Church and society in South Africa. Nevertheless, it cannot be regarded, especially by today's standards, as in any way radical. It was a compromise document which went further than the Afrikaans Reformed Churches had hitherto gone in questioning elements within the accepted apartheid policy of the National Party government, but not as far as the English-speaking Churches would have liked. Much of it was based on a preparatory document drafted by NGK theologians, indicating important changes within the thinking of some NGK circles.

Perhaps the most radical political recommendation emanating from Cottesloe was that which stated that there could be 'no objection in principle to the direct representation of coloured people in parliament'. The prohibition of racially mixed marriages was seen to be without Scriptural warrant, but such marriages were regarded as inadvisable in practice. Some labour laws, such as job reservation and those affecting migratory labour, were also found to be undesirable. Indeed, the political thinking reflected in the Consultation Statement is not very different from some Nationalist opinion today.

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