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Reconciliation: On the Border between Theological and Political Praxis

Keywords: reconciliation , theology , politics , Christian tradition , political praxis , memory

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Reconciliation is a theologically-charged word with politically-charged implications. The work of the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) raised questions about reconciliation in a political context including the parts or partners of reconciliation: truth-telling, repentance, amnesty, reparations, and ultimately forgiveness and justice. This paper explores two questions. First, are theologians ready to give up an exclusive claim on reconciliation as a theological term or, at the very least, be agreeable to the fact that reconciliation might have political as well as theological meanings? Second, if reconciliation is granted unhindered access across the borders of theology and politics, what wisdom from the theological tradition has informed the political praxis of reconciliation, and has political praxis in any way challenged our theological understanding of reconciliation? As responses to these questions, the paper looks at the theological development of reconciliation, with particular attention to the New Testament and subsequent historical praxis. It then discusses points of connection where the theological development has informed political praxis.


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