Original Research

Violence: The church is part of the problem

Erna Oliver
Verbum et Ecclesia | Vol 32, No 2 | a510 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ve.v32i2.510 | © 2011 Erna Oliver | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 23 March 2011 | Published: 12 December 2011

About the author(s)

Erna Oliver, Department of Christian Spirituality, Church History and Missiology, South Africa


South African Christians are not only surrounded by violence, but actively participate in acts of violence, therefore contributing to the unacceptably high levels of anxiety and counterviolence across the country. Christian churches – both the institutions and their individual members – are accomplices to the current chaotic state of affairs in South Africa. Simply accepting and adapting to the standards and values of the society in which the church operates erases the signs and characteristics of the alternative community that Christians are supposed to be. Being no different from the rest of society deprives the churches of their power and influence on society.

The churches are caught up in a number of crises, causing them to be sidetracked from serious issues that need urgent attention. This calls for amelioration, which focuses not so much on creeds, but on deeds. Faith is supposed to change people and their behaviour. Challenging the way people behave, calling upon them to live without compromise and emphasising the need for introspection regarding the use of violence could bring creative transformation to both the church and society. To this end, this paper aimed to focus attention on the fact that the Christian churches in South Africa are not living up to their calling and, through its examination of the problem at hand, sound a call for introspection and action.


Violence; Afrikaans speaking churches; transformation; crises


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