In The News Opinion

Communities of faith need to speak truth to power to the organised church

Vincent van Breda 
I Just read the article of Ms Keswa posted on the Facebook page of Dr Llewellyn Gamka MacMaster in response to Bishop Clyde Khoi-Khoi Ramalaine.
It gives one a view about how the organised church in the South African Council of Churches (SACC) is thinking about its past and present. Albeit, in the voice of Ms Keswa.
About its past:
– it is reciting the undisputed known signs of its past progressive credentials.
However, instead of an expression as character-witness,  and, therefore,  earned right to speak truth to power in the current economic and political circumstances, it comes across as a feeble puffing up of its diminished bulk to appear to be the same giant it once was, but knows in its heart of hearts it is long no more.
 About its present:
– it admits to having been silent the past twenty years, therefore, is looking for a way out of its self-imposed irrelevance;
Against this self-expressed historical background it jumps from silence to its ‘prophetic voice’ – no soul searching, no looking for the complicity to the current state of affairs, alas, no mea culpa.
Instead of through a biblically founded theological rediscovery of its new-found ‘prophetic voice’, it latches onto events in the political terrain for its attempt at meaningful participation on the public discourse.
 Instead of entering the very complex socio-economic and socio-political contexts of the  present with a searching spirit of,  for example, Martin Luther’s theology of the cross,  it wades in as self-appointed facilitator,  adjudicator and pronouncer of  absolution of ‘truth-tellers’.
Unfortunately,  all of this ‘prophetic work’ is done in the same language of unsubstantiated accusation, of those very seekers of absolution.
In all this the SACC does not speak on its own behalf by answering to the critique of one if its own.
Instead, it appears to be using the ‘innocent opinion’ of Ms Keswa,  one from the marketplace,  to level unsubstantiated accusations at one of its own. One who dared to speak truth to their power; one who has a publicly verifiable record of  having stayed engaged in public discourse by speaking truth to political power during the past 20 years, whilst, by the account of its surrogate witness, the SACC was silent.
The unfortunate state of affairs does not end there.
Instead of directly engaging a fellow bedienaar van die woord  by penning a response himself,  Dr. Llewellyn MacMaster shares the above opinion piece of Ms Keswa – as one whose opinion he shares – without affording the original opinion piece of Bishop Clyde Ramalaine to speak for itself.
Clearly, there is a dire need for the  believers in the communities of faith to speak truth to power in the organised church of 2017.
Vincent van Breda
Theologian and academic
Mitchell’s Plain, Cape Town
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