Original Research

Political theology, radical democracy, and explorations of liberation

George J. van Wyngaard
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 80, No 1 | a9739 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v80i1.9739 | © 2024 George J. van Wyngaard | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 11 February 2024 | Published: 12 June 2024

About the author(s)

George J. van Wyngaard, Department of Philosophy, Practical and Systematic Theology, College of Human Sciences, University of South Africa, Pretoria, South Africa


In 2012, Vuyani Vellem made a brief proposal for a deeper engagement with political theorists and activists working around the notion of radical democracy, a proposal he reaffirmed in 2013 in articulating the challenge for the church in the face of an inability to contribute to meaningful change amidst vast economic inequality in South Africa. Despite extensive engagement with the work of Vellem in recent years, this particular proposal has so far not been explicitly picked up. This article places Vellem’s proposal within the more recent debates around public theology and political theology in South Africa, proposing the possibility of a constructive dialogue between political theologies and South African theologies of liberation in picking up Vellem’s suggestion.

Contribution: After an overview of the very recent attempts at engaging political theology in the South African context, and an overview of Vellem’s proposal around radical democracy, two more recent theological attempts at engaging with radical democracy are introduced and elements that might extend Vellem’s call for a conversation with radical democracy are outlined.


Black theology; liberation theology; political theology; radical democracy; Vuyani Vellem.

Sustainable Development Goal

Goal 16: Peace, justice and strong institutions


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