LAND DISPOSSESSION AS “ORIGINAL SIN”. CAN CHRISTIAN ORIGINAL SIN TALK BE USED AS DIAGNOSTIC TOOL WITHIN THE PUBLIC DOMAIN?

Nico Vorster

Abstract


This contribution considers the descriptive value of original sin talk within the public domain against the background of the South African land reform debate. The first section analyses the employment of “original sin” language within this debate by South African President Cyril Ramaphosa in the light of the rise of “white privilege” discourse in South Africa. The subsequent section addresses the theological content and logical consistency of Augustine’s version of original sin. It pays particular attention to Paul Ricoeur’s analysis of the historical development of Augustine’s thought on sin in response to Manicheanism and Pelagianism and concludes by identifying possible risks involved in transposing the Augustinian version of original sin talk to the public domain. The third section probes the question: Does Christian sin talk belong in the public domain at all? It examines the disconnections that exist between Christian sin talk and popular public notions of “wrongdoing”. The article then considers the possible strengths of a non-literalist, non-biological version of original sin doctrine when applied to the public domain, while the last section illustrates the diagnostic benefits of the proposed version of original sin with reference to the South African land debate.


Keywords


original sin; Augustine; Ricoeur; public discourse; land dispossession; South Africa; colonialism

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.7833/119-2-1763

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ISSN 2305-445X (online); ISSN 0254-1807 (print)

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