Nic Paton invited a number of us for a day of conversation about the emerging church in South Africa. In spite of everyone who’s been slowly but surely shying away from the term “emerging”, this group of people embrace it, but are giving a South African swing to the conversation.

I was introduced to the term “emerging” by Tony Jones more than three years ago. And started my first blog within a few days from that point, called emergingsa. Two days after I started the blog, on 23 August 2006, I wrote the following post, which I quote again today. I think I can summarize much of the weekends conversation by saying that we are starting to move into a direction where I can say that I am part of a journey that is taking up the challenges that I thought was crucial way back when i first joined:

Emerging Rainbow Church???

I have been thinking about this a lot in the last few years – The multi-racial South Africa.

The Dining Hall has been an area of quite interesting conversations in the past 4 years. And the last 2 hours got me thinking again. One of my friends started talking about some of his experiences in black communities, and especially with regard to faith issues. While listening to the stories he told me, I just realisedagain, there are other stories completely different from ours.

What is the conversation in South Africa really about? The emerging western church? Can we talk about an emerging church in South Africa along the same lines Europe and America are talking about the Emerging Church? I’m not sure that I can envision an emerging South African church that is not multi-racial? But will we be willing to have a dream of a multi-racial church in South Africa that doesn’t stick to Western ideas only?

Maybe part of postmodernism in South Africa will be to also listen to the worldviews of the rainbow of different cultures in our country. And this while I’m struggling just to understand other Afrikaans South Africans sometimes.

When Roger Saner started Emerging Africa he made the sub-title: a safe place to talk about theology“. We talked about a safe place a lot. Although our conversations might not fit the typical academic theological setting, or church setting, the conversation is thoroughly theological. And a certain historical, critical and postmodern blend of theological. The names that surfaced constantly was among others: Brian McLaren, Karen Armstong, John Caputo, Peter Rollins. All of these is recognized as more radical theological voices, not all emerging. Those of us in the conversation need a safe place to talk about theology, to experience theology, to experiment with theology, to create theology, and to figure out how this can impact the world.

Yes, we still use emerging. But the conversations we have is being held under many different banners. Everywhere I go I hear more and more voices asking similar questions. This is a paradigm shift. We still talk about emerging, when we say this word, we know that we share certain values, although it might still be very vague. But more than that, we share a friendship, we share times of drumming, of eating together. We share a passion to see a society, a country, changed for the better. And we share the fact that we need a safe space, and are willing to create a safe space where anyone who want to ask questions and search for answers, are welcome.


This is part of a Synchroblog on reactions to the conversations we had. Others who took part:

Nic Paton wrote a summary of the weekend, and especially Saterday’s, conversation.

blogging in the academic world

September 14, 2009

Starting tomorrow morning I’ll be co-lecturing a module in Theology of Mission together with Nelus Niemandt from the University of Pretoria. This started with a conversation we had at Amahoro earlier this year, in which I made some suggestions on how blogs can be used as a teaching and assessment tool. Given my special interest in David Bosch, Nelus asked whether I’d help in developing this for the Masters in Divinity students who have to study Transforming Mission.

The class consist of aproximately 25 students, who will be divided into 5 groups. Every group will have a blog on which they will have to make at least 5 blogposts in the coming few weeks. In blogging as a group we hope to encourage discussion among the members since these posts will be in the name of the group. Each student will also have to comment at least 10 times in the coming weeks. Thus a minimum of 50 posts and 250 comments. In setting this ratio we hope to encourage a more conversational style of blogging, with hopefully more discussion taking place.

The blogs will be hosted on wordpress, and open to everybody. Since this is a module in missiology, theology should happen in the marketplace. As academic theologians Will Storrar and Andries van Aarde have mentioned, blogging might be seen as a form of public theology. I’d like to invite you to join the conversation that we hope to create, and in the process become a co-lecturer, a conversation partner in the journey of Missional discovery of this class of students.

Quote from a widget on the blogs:

UP_centenary_logoThe discussion on this blog is part of a Masters module in Missiology at the Faculty of Theology of the University of Pretoria. The module is on Theology of Mission and Transforming Mission by David Bosch is being used as textbook. The module is presented by Prof. Nelus Niemandt and Rev. Cobus van Wyngaard. Please read the about page for more information.

The blogs in the module are on:

The end of a “modern era”

Mission and the search for justice

Mission and Evangelism

Mission and the aposolate of the laity

Hope in action

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Subscribe for the posts that will hopefully start apprearing shortly. Comment on the blogs. Maybe take part by also blogging on the subjects they will be discussion in the comming weeks and linking to their work.

I’ve mentioned my critique of the New Atheist movement a number of time now. Kevin Parry has mentioned my critique on this as well, it’s one of the things that we have in common. What we don’t have in common though, is our believe in God. I believe in God, Kevin believe that there is no God. I call myself a Christian, Kevin prefer to call himself an Atheist. We are aware of our differences, but agree that both New Atheism and religious fundamentalism is unhelpful. Funny that both these extremes do the same thing: not listening to those with whom they differ.

When I find newly deconverted people, I promtly refer them to Kevin’s blog. I do this not because I think Kevin neccesarily has the best arguments for Atheism and I think that newly deconverted people need good arguments, but because I am aware that the Atheist scene, just like the religious scene, has many different options to consider, and some of them are more healthy than other. Some foster an openness to dialogue, encourages peace with those they differ with, others tend to be militant, and cause hatred against those they differ with. As a follower of Jesus I want to help people even when choosing Atheism to find a way of living that more closely resemble that which I believe Jesus taught.

Do I therefore recommend Atheism? No. Do I believe that healthy Atheists are right? In certain things yes, but I believe that there is more to reality than they might think. I do believe that if Atheism do not conform to reality (and I believe that it doesn’t) over time the cracks in their understanding of reality would become obvious. But I can also fully understand that some people opt for Atheism because the theology (talk about God) that they recieved from their churches doesn’t seem to reflect reality either. If a time of Atheism is part of their journey, I respect their honesty (because trust me, to be an Atheist in South Africa puts in an absolute minority). But my understanding of God allows me to guide people to more healthy understandings in Atheism while on their journey of discovering God.

I am an Afrikaner, I have no leader. I am in a tribe at the southern part of Africa, although people from my tribe have spread out all over the world by now. The second last leader my people had, was an oppressor, a tyrant, a racist. The last leader my people had was a liberator, a freedom fighter. The second last leader we had said: “Apartheid will never end”. The last leader my people had said: “Let us free Nelson Mandela”. But now I have no leader. Our last leader gave away the position of Afrikaner leader so that the oppressed can be free in South Africa.

My people seem to think we have no heroes. They sing of a guy named De La Rey, who lived 100 years ago. Some say that we sing of De La Rey because there has been no heroes after him. But they make the mistake to read history as the story of those in power. Because we have heroes. They are the thousands of Afrikaners who fought against the oppressive system called Apartheid. They are the thousands of people who could take advantage because they were Afrikaners, but instead they chose to fight the system that made them important. Those who were willing to give their position of privilege by fighting their own tribe who was oppressing others, they are the heroes that I have.

I come from this tribe that had people who fought even against their own flesh and blood because they believed in equality. They might have been a minority, but they are my heroes. I am an Afrikaner.

A few days ago I was sitting in a conversation with some pastor friends who has a problem. They were collecting mieliemeel at their congregations, and had about 60 bags that needed handing out, their problem was where to hand it out. So, I was listening to how they were randomly discussing options, and at some point they asked whether they could come and hand out the mieliemeel in a squatter-camp near our congregation, where we are involved. I had to say “no”. They, this bunch of whities, couldn’t just walk into this black squatter-camp, ran by an ANC chief, a month before the election, in a place where they have no relationships, and hand out 60 bags of mieliemeel. Yes, it’s a good thing that they want to give, but the idea that they were the solution, that they were the “haves”, and that in some way they are bettering the world by just handing out stuff has a lot around it that needs to be challenged.

Anyhow, Tom wrote about this and got my mind going again, my father wrote about this a few weeks ago. Both of them work much closer with the poor, have real relationships, friendships with the poor, so rather read their thoughts.

Selected Writings posted

November 8, 2008

I finally came round to creating a page with some writings I’ve done. Mostly old academic assignments and papers. You can find it on the Writings page. You’re welcome to make contact if the content of any of these interest you. I post the links to the four PDFs currently uploaded here. Descriptions of the content can be found on the page.

David Bosch as Public Theologian

Jesus’ disregard for rules of space

Looking back from the Future

Pistis Christou in Gal 2:16

I’ve been attending TGIF a few times the past months, must say Winter was a little more difficult, plus I was away for a number of weeks, so I only started going again last Friday. I got an invite to maybe speak somewhere in the future, but more on that later. For now, a quick invite:

Two of my friends and fellow bloggers is speaking at TGIF this Friday. Kevin and Roger will be having an Atheist-Christian conversation. Yes, conversation, not debate as far as I could gather. These two are friends, and will hopefully give us a picture of how this could look.

So, Friday at 6:30 AM in Seattle Coffee Company in Brooklyn Mall. If you are going to be a first time visitor, let me know, let’s get each other outside SCC and I’ll show you around.