When the State is Evil: Biblical Civil (Dis)Obedience in South Africa
February 7, 2012 Leave a comment
My article “When the State is Evil: Biblical Civil (Dis)Obedience in South Africa”, co-written with Joel A. Nichols, has been published in St. John’s Law Review, issue 85, number 2. This article is a piece of historical theology of sorts that traces the use of the Bible in arguments about the (in)justice of civil disobedience to the apartheid government in South Africa. We focus on the arguments made by the Kairos theologians, Beyers Naude, and Desmond Tutu. Drawing on this historical sketch, as well as a brief biblical analysis, we make an argument that Christian scripture does not make one unified statement on the proper relation of Christians/the Church to oppressive and dictatorial governments. Rather, we argue that such a decision requires communal discernment and reflection, and that scripture provides much warrant for civil disobedience as a faithful act of obedience to God and as an appropriate Christian tool of social change.
You can find a .pdf version of the article, as well as the rest of the issue, here. I’d love to hear your feedback if you get a chance to read it.