The limited public good of a confession. A public theological reflection on enhancing the (public) good of the Belhar Confession in the Reformed Church family of South Africa

AR Brunsdon


Public theology takes on many forms, generally seeking some public good by interpreting Scripture, trying to reveal the social relevance of the theological truth concerned. In this framework the Belhar Confession can arguably be deemed a public theological tour de force as it spoke out against, amongst others, social injustices based on wrongful Biblical exegesis. Speaking to different “publics” over the last three decades, the good resulting from this confession, ironically, seems extremely limited – especially in the Reformed Church family (public) of its native land, South Africa. It would even be safe to allege that this confession has had a polarizing effect, rather than a unifying one. As public theology is regarded as an intra-disciplinary venture, this article will reflect critically on the limited good of this confession and will ponder the notion of enhancing its good as a form of public theology by means of a public-theological reflection. It is suspected that several possibilities reside within a public-theological reading whereby the good this confession is capable of can be enhanced.


Public theology; Confession of Belhar; Reformed churches of South Africa; Confessions of faith

Full Text:




  • There are currently no refbacks.

Copyright (c) 2016 Pieter de Waal Neethling Trust, Stellenbosch

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

ISSN 2413-9467 (online); ISSN 2413-9459 (print)

© 2017 Pieter de Waal Neethling Trust, Stellenbosch.

No registration, article submission or processing fees apply.

This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. 


Powered by OJS.