The theological basis for restitution within the South African context – Prof Hans Engdahl, Department of Theology and Religion, University of the Western Cape

prof-hansThere are two pitfalls.

To think that you can redeem yourself by paying back for damages, to think that you are able to make good what was destroyed or lost
To think that God’s forgiveness which is a free gift allows you to walk off as a free man/woman without obligations leading to restitution

Reconciliation, leading to restitution, is a liberated life of forgiveness committed to a new transfigured dispensation with justice for all. Zacchaeus might serve as paradigm (Luke 19.1-10). Having become accepted as a disciple of Jesus, out of sheer joy he shares, he pays back and there is little of calculation but much generosity.

In our work for restitution we must have the courage to look critically at our churches. The following six points should be considered.

Restitution constitutes an integral part of any authentic reconciliation process.
Our understanding of what is church could vary enormously. At this time focus should be on church as communion, as fellowship in solidarity, as koinonia (Acts 2.42).
We must take courage to stare down the ugly face of segregation in our churches.
Those who are to be reconciled must find themselves in the same worshipping community.
A restitution process will flow from such a communion of Christians.
South African churches could again show the way and become role models for world Christianity.

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