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Verbum et Ecclesia

versão On-line ISSN 2074-7705
versão impressa ISSN 1609-9982

Verbum Eccles. (Online) vol.32 no.2 Pretoria  2011 



Violence: The church is part of the problem



Erna Oliver

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





South African Christians are not only surrounded by violence, but actively participate in acts of violence, therefore contributing to the unacceptably high levels of anxiety and counter-violence across the country. Christian churches - both the institutions and their individual members - are accomplices to the current chaotic state of affairs in South Africa. Simply accepting and adapting to the standards and values of the society in which the church operates erases the signs and characteristics of the alternative community that Christians are supposed to be. Being no different from the rest of society deprives the churches of their power and influence on society.
The churches are caught up in a number of crises, causing them to be sidetracked from serious issues that need urgent attention. This calls for amelioration, which focuses not so much on creeds, but on deeds. Faith is supposed to change people and their behaviour. Challenging the way people behave, calling upon them to live without compromise and emphasising the need for introspection regarding the use of violence could bring creative transformation to both the church and society. To this end, this paper aimed to focus attention on the fact that the Christian churches in South Africa are not living up to their calling and, through its examination of the problem at hand, sound a call for introspection and action.



Full text available only in PDF format.




Competing interests

The author declares that she has no financial or personal relationship(s) which may have inappropriately influenced her in writing this paper.



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Erna Oliver
PO Box 392, UNISA 0003
South Africa

Received: 23 March 2011
Accepted: 21 Oct. 2011
Published: 12 Dec. 2011



Note: A shortened excerpt of this paper was presented at the conference on 'Violence in the democratic South Africa: A challenge for theology and the churches' that was hosted by the Centre for Public Theology at the University of Pretoria, 10-12 August 2010.

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