Some Reflections on the Theology of Reconciliation

Last January, I attended an academic conference in Pittsburgh. During a break, we were given the option of visiting the Andy Warhol Museum or meeting representatives from South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC). The TRC was established to provide an opportunity for the perpetrators and victims of atrocities that had occurred under apartheid to receive forgiveness, amnesty, and healing. Lead by Desmond Tutu, from 1994 -2000, several thousand cases of brutality were resolved peacefully through a process of confession and absolution. Although the TRC’s accomplishments have been debated, no one doubts that a great deal of bloodshed was avoided. Indeed, TRC has inspired similar commissions in places of enduring conflict, such as Northern Ireland, the Sudan, Columbia, and the Middle East. I asked myself: Should I go look at silk screens of Marilyn Monroe and Campbell Soup? Or should I meet some of those responsible for initiating a new response to injustice – one that substituted degenerative cycles of violence with regenerative patterns of forgiveness? Like many others, I chose the latter option.

Some Reflections on the Theology of Reconciliation

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