Truth and Reconciliation in South Africa: Miracle or Model?

By Lyn S. Graybill | Go to book overview

3
Tutu’s Theology
of Reconciliation

Religion and Society

It is hardly surprising that religious notions informed the working of South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC). South Africa is a country that is “Christian” in a sense that would be unrecognizable to citizens of most countries. The vast majority of South Africans are church members for whom Christianity is the most important ideological frame of reference. Biblical language and Christian discourse resonate powerfully, and theological discourse on political matters is taken seriously.1

Christianity was used by the National Party (NP) to rationalize apartheid, and was also employed by the resistance leaders to justify the struggle against it. The NP argued that Christianity taught that Afrikaners were God’s elect in southern Africa and that separate development was God’s will and plan.2 For resistance leaders from the African National Congress (ANC), Pan-Africanist Congress (PAC), and Black Consciousness Movement (BCM), Christianity served as an ethical critique of apartheid, a source of righteous anger that inspired action, and a wellspring of confidence in eventual victory.3 Given the importance of Christianity in South Africa, the framework under which the TRC operated was heavily influenced by Christian thought and tradition.

The Christian Church from its beginning has been concerned with truth, reconciliation, confession, guilt, and forgiveness—issues with which the TRC grappled.4 Notions of reconciliation come squarely from Christian theology and have been central to theological debate in South Africa for years. The publication by the South African Council of Churches (SACC) (and the Christian Institute [CI]) of The Message to the

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Truth and Reconciliation in South Africa: Miracle or Model?
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Truth and Reconciliation in South Africa - Miracle or Model? iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface ix
  • 1: Setting Up the Trc 1
  • 2: Nelson Mandela: Pragmatic Reconciler 11
  • 3: Tutu’s Theology of Reconciliation 25
  • 4: Forgiving the Unforgivable 39
  • 5: Amnesty: A Controversial Compromise 57
  • 6: Storytelling 81
  • 7: Women’s Testimony Before the Trc 97
  • 8: Innocent Bystanders? 113
  • 9: Media Hearings 125
  • 10: Wounded Healers: the Churches Respond 133
  • 11: The Rest of the Story 145
  • 12: A Workable Model? 163
  • 13: Afterword: Miracle or Evil Compromise? 177
  • Chronology 181
  • Glossary 187
  • Acronyms 189
  • Bibliography 193
  • Index 219
  • About the Book 231
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