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CONFLICT RESOLUTION STRATEGIES AND THE CHURCH: THE CHURCH’S ROLE AS AN AGENT OF SOCIAL CHANGE IN THE POLITICAL CONFLICT m SOUTH AFRICA

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CONFLICT RESOLUTION STRATEGIES AND THE CHURCH: THE CHURCH’S ROLE AS AN AGENT OF SOCIAL CHANGE IN THE POLITICAL CONFLICT m SOUTH AFRICA

 

 

ABSTRACT

This dissertation investigates the problem of significance conflict resolution as a meaningful ministry of the Church in ecclesial, social and political conflict. Recognising the fact that conflict has been an experience of humankind since the beginning of time the research focuses on the Church’s role in socio-political conflict during the years of the National Party rule in South Africa.

A number of theological and practical questions arise from the problem of conflict and its resolution in relation to the Church. The question is raised: does conflict resolution as a concept and strategy have a credible theological content. In order to explore this problem the dissertation first develops a theology of conflict. The theology of conflict forms the basis for a theology of conflict resolution. The thesis is that conflict, inherent in all human experience, is not good or evil. Rather it has the potential for destruction and transformation. It is the transformatory possibility that needs to be promoted.

The thesis examines conflict resolution strategies of leading theorists and practitioners and tests them as viable approaches to be adopted by the Church. However it finds that conflict resolution will be accepted as a role of the Church if it can be formulated in convincing theological principles.

An analysis of reconciliation and conflict resolution focuses on the way reconciliation is perceived in the political context. It then probes the theological relationship between reconciliation and conflict resolution. Reconciliation is more than conflict resolution. The scope of reconciliation includes (a) the initiative of God, (b) addressing the predicament of alienation, brokenness and distress (c) through the Cross and Resurrection of Jesus Christ the Mediator (d) who reconciles the universe to God.

However, conflict resolution has an indispensable role in the reconciliation process. Through the ministry of conflict resolution the Church facilitates confrontation between individuals or groups and contributes towards transformation in relationships where there is conflict.

The thesis then probes the possibilities for conflict resolution to be an integral part of of on-going pastoral ministry in the belief that pro-active conflict resolution is a source of social and ecclesial transformation.

KEY WORDS:

Church; Conflict Resolution; Social Change; Political Conflict; Reconciliation; Mediation; Role of the Church; Theological Investigation; Negotiating an agreement; Christian Community,