Original Research

Decolonising the concept of the Trinity to decolonise the religious education curriculum

Anné H. Verhoef
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 77, No 4 | a6313 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v77i4.6313 | © 2021 Anné H. Verhoef | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 18 August 2020 | Published: 09 February 2021

About the author(s)

Anné H. Verhoef, School of Philosophy, Faculty of Humanities, North-West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa


This article brings into perspective the need to decolonise the concept of the Trinity (as the specific doctrine and Christian name of God) as a crucial step in decolonising the religious education curriculum. It discusses the concept of decolonisation and its applicability to religious education, specifically Christianity, within higher education (e.g. in Teacher Education Programmes) in the South African context. God as the Trinity has throughout the history of Atlantic slavery and colonialism been employed to legitimise colonial rule and it, therefore, needs to be decolonised. To decolonise the concept of the Trinity is, however, highly problematic, as the historic relation between Christianity and African traditional religions (ATRs) indicates. Decolonising the concept of the Trinity can quickly develop into a tension between a position of either continuity or discontinuity (of ATR with Christianity).

Contribution: This article argues for an alternative approach for the decolonisation of the concept of the Trinity, namely to allow for the deconstruction of the concept of the Trinity, and by implication of other concepts – like decolonisation and religion – as well. This approach is proposed to develop more openness and playfulness with regard to religious beliefs in general. I argue that this may provide a hopeful, open and just vision of life which should be part of the decolonised religious education curriculum.


Trinity; decolonisation; religious education; theology; deconstruction; African Traditional Religions; curriculum


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