Original Research

Mystery and multiculturalism: Should the musterion of Ephesians 3 encourage multiculturalism in South African churches?

Desmond Henry, Darryl Soal
Verbum et Ecclesia | Vol 42, No 1 | a2191 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ve.v42i1.2191 | © 2021 Desmond Henry, Darryl Soal | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 02 December 2020 | Published: 05 August 2021

About the author(s)

Desmond Henry, Department of Theology, Faculty of Theology, North-West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa
Darryl Soal, Department of Theology, Faculty of Theology, North-West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa


The objective was the examination of the musterion of Ephesians 3, whether it encouraged multiculturalism in South African churches. The knowledge gap was to find further biblical direction for churches experiencing cultural transitions and demographic changes. The research method was a qualitative analysis of biblical texts, as applied specifically in a South African setting, with global implications. The significance would be the cultural transitions of churches from homogeneous, local churches into culturally heterogeneous, local churches. Further questioning the homogeneous unit principle (HUP) in the light of Scripture, especially Ephesians. The results found that the musterion in Ephesians 3 pointed to the Holy Spirit’s original intension for multicultural local churches. This mystery was found to be the witness of the church in this world and cosmically, to allay fear and prejudice. Further research is recommended into addressing the fears of globalisation in local churches. The contextual context affected local churches in post-Apartheid South Africa and many local churches around the world experiencing globalisation. These findings affect possible blind spots in theological studies in the New Testament, cross-cultural care in Practical Theology, Missiological findings for church growth and church planting, along with sociological findings in multiculturalism.

Intradisciplinary and/or interdisciplinary implications: The article deals with concerns for New Testament, missiology and practical theology. It challenges the homogenous unit principle in the light of Pauline discourse and synthesises research to form a contextual response to the need for multiculturalism in South African churches.


mystery; multicultural; multiculturalism; missiology; culture; globalism; local churches


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