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In die Skriflig

On-line version ISSN 1018-6441

Abstract

VAN DER WALT, B.J.. A Reformational social philosophy: Systematic exposition, critical evaluation and practical application. In Skriflig (Online) [online]. 2008, vol.42, n.3, pp. 499-530. ISSN 1018-6441.

The problem to be discussed in this contribution is that many Christians, churches and theologians are often guided by no or merely a very vague (worldviewish) perspective on social life. Sometimes they are even inspired by unbiblical methods (e.g. earlier Marxism and contemporary neocapitalism or postmodernism) in their social analysis. This may be an important contributing factor for the sad fact that Christians often have very little impact on the broader social domain (the "public square") outside their personal and church life. Therefore this article looks at a possible solution in the following steps: It begins with a comparison between the three basic philosophies of society, viz. individualism, collectivism and pluralism. Then it provides a systematic exposition of a Christian-reformational, pluralistic social philosophy as a possible candidate. To indicate that a reformational social philosophy neither wants to pretend, nor wants to be regarded as a static dogma or ideology, the next section reviews some points of critique voiced by its sympathetic proponents. The fourth section investigates how this social view may inspire social change. Following the preceding, more theoretical exploration, it discusses possibilities for its practical application. In this way a complete answer (both theoretical and practical) is given to the urgent problem indicated at the beginning, viz. the little influence of Christians on the so-called public sphere.

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