Original Research

'Democracy is coming to the RSA': On democracy, theology, and futural historicity

Robert R. Vosloo
Verbum et Ecclesia | Vol 37, No 1 | a1523 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ve.v37i1.1523 | © 2016 Robert R. Vosloo | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 26 August 2015 | Published: 25 May 2016

About the author(s)

Robert R. Vosloo, Department of Systematic Theology and Ecclesiology, Stellenbosch University, South Africa

Share this article

Bookmark and Share


This article brings the concept of democracy – as an open-ended tradition – in conversation with notions dealing with historicity and the future, such as ‘democracy to come’, ‘promise’, and ‘a democratic vision’. It is argued that although these notions are rightfully associated with the future, they also imply that democracy should not be disconnected from an emphasis on an inheritance from the past. With this emphasis in mind, the first part of the article attends to the French philosopher Jacques Derrida’s intriguing term, ‘democracy to come’, whereas the second part of the article takes a closer look at some aspects of the work of the South African theologian John de Gruchy on democracy, with special reference to his distinction between a democratic system and a democratic vision. The third, and final, part of the article brings some of the insights taken from the engagement with Derrida and De Gruchy into conversation with the continuing challenges facing theological discourse on democracy in South Africa today.

Intradisciplinary and/or interdisciplinary implications: A constructive proposal is made that emphasises the futural openness of democracy in a way that challenges a vague utopianism.

Keywords: Democracy; Derrida; De Gruchy; future; historicity


Democracy; Derrida; De Gruchy; future; historicity


Total abstract views: 1143
Total article views: 2341

Crossref Citations

No related citations found.