n Journal for Contemporary History - Mediation by means of isolation : resistance against the Dutch Reformed Church in South Africa (DRC) during the 1980s




The isolation of South Africa on international terrain, especially during the 1980s, contributed to a large extent to the unfeasibility of the policy of apartheid. According to the theologian, Dr Allan Boesak, the role of the Christian society is one of the most underestimated factors in the struggle against apartheid. Churches and theologians worldwide raised their voices in resistance against the apartheid regime. Churches, inside as well as outside South Africa, increasingly criticized the theological justification of apartheid. In the process religion became an important anti-apartheid mechanism for various leaders who resisted apartheid. Although the Dutch Reformed Church in South Africa (DRC) abandoned the theological justification of the policy of racial segregation by the 1980s, the Church did not hold the point of view that the policy of apartheid was irreconcilable with the will of God. The isolation of the DRC by the international faith based institutions played a significant role on a spiritual level by increasingly discrediting the theological justification of the apartheid policy by the DRC and placing pressure on the Church to reform. The article highlights the role of international bodies like the Reformed Churches in the Netherlands, the World Council of Churches, the World Alliance of Reformed Churches, as well as the South African Council of Churches. Against this background the article will debate in which ways, if any, the DRC and its power structures handled the pressure of the international and national religious communities during the 1980s.


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