W P Esterhuyse


The theme of church and politics has become a very sensitive issue in South Africa. Not only does a discussion of this issue usually arouse strong political feelings – it also involves complex questions of principle.

In this article, the author has chosen not to treat this theme in an abstract, theoretical way, instead, he defends the following theses:

  1. ‘The church is unavoidably involved in the political affairs of a country’. This thesis is defended by examining the nature of politics and the function of the church in secular affairs. (Priestly, sovereign and prophetic functions). The writer concludes that the church should concern itself with social structures and policies, and not only with individuals.
  2. ‘It is not the task of the church to formulate or propagate political and constitutional blueprints’. In view of the function of the church, it is argued that the church should maintain a critical distance from the secular world, its institutions and its ideologies. This cannot be divorces from the question of the legitimacy of the church.
  3. ‘The church in South Africa should stimulate political change’. It is argued that the church can never acquiesce to the status quo. The church should constantly point out that change is possible and desirable. In the light of its calling and function, the church should promote reform in all its aspects. 


Church and politics; South Africa

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

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