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Original Research

Violence as development? A challenge to the church

Christina Landman

Verbum et Ecclesia; Vol 32, No 2 (2011), 6 pages. doi: 10.4102/ve.v32i2.577

Submitted: 25 July 2011
Published:  25 November 2011


Dullstroom-Emnotweni was the site of protests against the lack of service delivery by local government in 2009. The local leadership of the Uniting Reformed Church in Southern Africa was confronted with challenges when its members got involved in acts of violence both from the side of the community and from the side of the police. Viewing itself as an asset to the community and an agent in its development towards health and wellbeing, the church was challenged by the situation in its prophetic capacity as well as in its relationship with the ‘state’. In an attempt to negotiate answers to the church’s relationship with the ‘state’ in situations of violence, the uprising in Dullstroom-Emnotweni is used as a case study, and Calvin’s notion of the church as a world-transforming agent, the views of African women theologians on nonviolence, the practical piety of local religiousness, and the memory of systems of governance as ‘evil’ are used as intertexts to define the church’s position vis-à-vis violence as an option for development. A position of caution is taken, a position in which the church retains both its political distance and its prophetic voice, remains true to its calling as an asset to community development, and condones violence cautiously when development is at stake.

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Author affiliations

Christina Landman, University of South Africa, Research Institute for Theology and Religion, South Africa


relationship church-state; violence; prophetic voice; Calvin; African women theologians


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ISSN: 1609-9982 (print) | ISSN: 2074-7705 (online)

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