Original Research

The theological anthropology of Simon Maimela: Democratisation of power and being human in relationship

George J. (Cobus) van Wyngaard
Verbum et Ecclesia | Vol 38, No 1 | a1682 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ve.v38i1.1682 | © 2017 George J. (Cobus) van Wyngaard | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 06 August 2016 | Published: 28 April 2017


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Abstract

The lacuna around race in (white) Christian theological anthropology has often been pointed out. The canon of academic systematic theology seldom reflects on the implication of modern race and racism for our theological anthropologies and, therefore, fails to provide adequate resources for dealing with one of the most fundamental problems of modern theological anthropology – that the modern human was conceived through a white racial lens. Black theology, in its various streams, has responded with a theological anthropology that consciously disrupted a modern anthropology which thought of ‘man’ as white (and male). This article analyses the sustained work around theological anthropology of South African Black Theologian Simon Maimela. Maimela over a number of years attempted to articulate the theological problem of white anthropology, or the anthropological problem of white theology, in South Africa. Two dominant pillars are identified in Maimela’s theological anthropology and these are connected to the influence of Black theology and African theology on his work, and his attempt at drawing these traditions together. Maimela’s theological critique on whiteness will be discussed and key contemporary implications noted.

Intradisciplinary and/or interdisciplinary implications: While the article is most explicitly situated in the discipline of systematic theology, it challenges dominant narratives on what the theological problem with apartheid was, which also has implications for the broader fields of whiteness studies and critical race studies in South Africa.


Keywords

black theology; Simon Maimela; whiteness; anthropology; apartheid; racism

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