Our task in this short paper is to reflect contextually and missiologically upon the unity of the Church in future perspective. Perhaps this is the only way, theologically speaking, that the unity of the Church can be considered, because it is not a static concept which exists in dogmatic isolation, but a divine eschatological summons which is integrally related to the task of the Church in the world today.
The credal statement that the church is holy is derived from the fact that the church is rooted in Christ, the source of its holiness (Col. 2:6,7; I Cor. 1:30). He calls his people through the sanctifiyng power of the Holy Spirit to be holy and to grow in sanctification (d. I Thess. 4:7; I Pet. 1:15f.; 2:4, 9; Rom. 12:1; Eph. 6:12; 4:24; Lev. 11:44).
Probably one of the best definitions of catholicity was given by Karl Barth. According to him catholicity means the universality, inclusiveness, identity and continuity which underlie the church in spite of all differences or variations. The basic character of the church is the same in any place and through all ages, and the church is always and in all places obliged to uphold it.
The unusual sequence of the last two concepts in the title is deliberate. There is a direct connection between apostolicity and the future, and this link can only subsequently be applied to Africa. To put it differently: apostolicity does not, in the first place, have a peeculiar meaning for Africa which it does not have for other parts of the world, and only then by derivation also something to do with the future. The apostolicity of the church is its eschatological dimension: This needs closer examination before we consider what this eschatological dimension of the church means for the church in Africa.
Three political leaders, more or less one mind: Presidents Kaunda, Nyerere and Kenyatta voice the aspirations of new nations in Africa and try to mould a new and an African deology: 'socialism' (Tanzania). 'African democratic socialism' (Kenya) or 'humanism' (Zambia). All have in common 'the creation of a humanist society in which MAN is central. And the Church in Africa is not only invited to participate, but challenged to promote this ideology.
We confine ourselves in this short article to the mission to Africans. There are two reasons for this. The limited space we have available makes a focusing on the theme necessary. At the same time this helps us to make the topic more relevant to our specific South African situation.
The attitude of black students towards the Afrikaner people is negative. Some recent surveys have brought this to light. In 1972 a M.A. thesis What do young Africans think? by M. L. Edelstein, a former Chief Welfare Officer in Soweto, was published. Edelstein set himself the task of ascertaining the attitudes of black matric pupils in Soweto, the large urban complex accomodating most of the black people of Johannesburg, to the no less than thirteen different South African Bantu and non-Bantu ethnic groups as well as to themselves and their situation.
The danger threatening Christianity is professing belief in the word of Christ while spiritual ising its practical meaning. With Abraham Kuyper we can only guess how totally different our social life would have beenif the preaching of the Church had stressed the social consequences of the principles of God's Kingdom.