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Verbum et Ecclesia

On-line version ISSN 2074-7705
Print version ISSN 1609-9982

Verbum Eccles. (Online) vol.31 n.1 Pretoria  2010 



Afrikaner Christianity and the concept of empire



Erna Oliver

Department of Christian Spirituality, Church History and Missiology, University of South Africa, South Africa





Not many Protestant countries in the world have been as influenced by faith as South Africa. Although South Africa was never officially a Christian country, politics, economic development, social life and the culture of the 'rainbow nation' was either moulded on, or influenced by, the Calvinistic Christianity that came to the country along with the European merchants. The privileged position of Christianity ended in 1994 when South Africa became a neutral state with guaranteed religious freedom for all.
Although more than 80 per cent of the population claim that they are Christians, it seems as if the word is not meant any more as a religion with a value system and moral obligations, but only as a convenient label. The reason behind the contrast between theory and practice must be investigated. One possible reason could be found in the traditional Afrikaans-speaking churches' participation of, and contribution to, the 'empire' concept. The responsibility of the individual to practise his or her faith was taken over by the power of the state and church.

Keywords: Afrikaners; Christian faith; empire; South African history; Traditional Afrikaans-speaking churches



Full text available only in PDF format.




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Erna Oliver
PO Box 31235
Totiusdal 0134
South Africa

Received: 28 Apr. 2010
Accepted: 10 June 2010
Published: 03 Aug. 2010



Note: Mission and empire in the history of Christianity was the theme of the bi-annual spring meeting of the American Society of Church History that was held in Montreal, Canada on 16–18 April 2009. An earlier edition of this paper, titled Mission and empire in the history of Christianity in South Africa: Is Christianity to blame?, was read at the conference.

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