Sphere sovereignty and irreducibility: The ambiguous use of Abraham Kuyper’s ideas during the time of apartheid in South Africa.
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Keywords

Abraham Kuyper
Sphere sovereignty
Irreducibility
Apartheid
Black Theology
Sfeersoewereiniteit
Onreduseerbaarheid
Swart Teologie

Abstract

Abstract

The purpose of this article is to highlight the notion that the concept of sphere sovereignty as postulated by Abraham Kuyper was used in an ambiguous if not invidious manner in the history of South Africa, specifically during the time of apartheid. On the one hand, it is associated with the justification of apartheid, which is particularly evident in the document Human relations and the South African scene in the light of Scripture (1976). On the other hand, it is also associated with Black Liberation Theology, specifically by Alan Boesak, who resisted apartheid.  The problem is that both these perspectives reduce the complexity of reality to race.  According to Kuyper sphere sovereignty meant that no aspect of reality could be an absolute point of departure to structure the whole and each aspect is sovereign in its own domain.  Thus, race or any other aspect cannot be the norm to structure reality. The unity and the structure of creation are located in God as creator of all reality.  It is precisely this irreducible perspective of Kuyper that can be beneficial for post-apartheid South Africa because it views reality as a complex connectivity.

Opsomming

Sfeersoewereiniteit en onreduseerbaarheid: Die dubbelsinnige gebruik van Abraham Kuyper se idees gedurende die tyd van apartheid in Suid-Afrika

Die doel van hierdie artikel is om aan te dui dat die konsep sfeersoewereiniteit soos gepostuleer deur Abraham Kuyper op ‘n dubbelsinnige manier gebruik is in die geskiedenis van Suid-Afrika, spesifiek gedurende die tyd van apartheid.  Aan die een kant, word dit geassosieer met die regverdiging van apartheid, wat spesifiek uitkomin die dokument Ras, volk en nasie en volkereverhoudinge in die lig van die Skrif (1976).  Aan die ander kant word dit geassosieer met Swart Bevrydingsteologie, spesifiek dié van Alan Boesak, wat weerstand teen apartheid gebied het.  Die probleem is dat albei hierdie perspektiewe die kompleksiteit van die werklikheid reduseer tot ras.  Volgens Kuyper verwys sfeersoewereiniteit daarna dat geen aspek van die realiteit ‘n absolute verwysingspunt kan wees vir die strukturering van die geheel nie en elke aspek is soewerein binne sy eie gebied.  Daarom kan nie ras of enige ander aspek ‘n norm wees om die realiteit te struktureer nie.  Die eenheid en struktuur van die realiteit is gesetel in God as skepper van alle dinge.  Dit is juis hierdie anti-reduksionistiese perspektief van Kuyper wat voordele mag bied vir post-apartheid Suid-Afrika.

https://doi.org/10.19108/KOERS.80.1.2208

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