Original Research - Special Collection: Africa We Want - Religious Perspectives

Transforming Africa: Some missiological perspectives from the Belhar Confession

Johannes J. Knoetze
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 78, No 4 | a7584 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v78i4.7584 | © 2022 Johannes J. Knoetze | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 30 March 2022 | Published: 26 August 2022

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Johannes J. Knoetze, Department of Practical Theology and Mission Studies, Faculty of Theology and Religion, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa


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Abstract

In the strategic document of the African Union approved in 2013 and spanning over 50 years, known as Agenda 2063, we find a blueprint for transforming Africa into a global powerhouse of the future. Many of the themes mentioned in Agenda 2063 are also mentioned in the New Testament, such as slavery, unity, poverty, women, children, discrimination and diversity. It is therefore clear that Christianity has something to contribute to Agenda 2063. Another word used throughout the Agenda 2063 document is ‘transformation’. Concepts such as ‘transformative leadership’ and ‘radical transformation at all levels and in all spheres’ are mentioned. This contribution draws on the Agenda 2063 document to engage the missiological themes of unity, reconciliation and justice through the lens of the Belhar Confession. Deeply aware of the pain and disruption colonial Christianity has caused in many instances in Africa, the author contends that the Good News, particularly the New Testament themes of unity, reconciliation and justice, present a potentially transformative approach towards developing Africa. The research question that this article attends to is: how can the churches in Africa contribute to the aspirations of Agenda 2063 from the themes of unity, justice and reconciliation as declared in the Belhar Confession? By interrogating these key concepts of Agenda 2063 through the Confession of Belhar, the author concludes that the Belhar Confession can be regarded as a key African document, which could be explored further to facilitate unity, reconciliation and justice on the continent.

Contribution: This article indicates the important relationship between church and state and the need for a partnership for the benefit of both. The need for a transforming state and a transforming church to participate in a transformed Africa is argued. The article promotes multi-, inter- and transdisciplinary aspects of studies as part of a mission praxis and application.


Keywords

Agenda 2063; unity; transformation; reconciliation; justice; Belhar; theological education

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