HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies

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Karl Barth's definition of church in politics and culture: Growth points for the church in South Africa

W Bentley


The article describes briefly Karl Barth's views on church, its role in politics and how it relates to culture. This is done by identifying the way in which the church participates in the social realm through its relationship with the State. The historic religious question asks whether there is a natural mutual-determining relationship between church and State. The church may ask whether faith and politics should mix, while a secular state may question the authority which the church claims to speak from. To a large extent culture determines the bias in this relationship. History has shown that church- State dynamics is not an either/or relationship, whereby either the authority of the church or the authority of the State should function as the ruling norm. Karl Barth describes the dynamics of this
relationship very well, within the context of culture, in the way his faith engages with the political status quo. Once the relationship is better understood, Barth's definition of the church will prove to be more effective in its evangelical voice, speaking to those who guide
its citizens through political power.

HTS Theological Studies Vol. 63 (4) 2007: pp. 1643-1661
AJOL African Journals Online