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Social Development



Kairos Document 30th Anniversary

Thirty years after the
release of the 1985 Kairos document, 'Challenge to the Church', a
group gathered in Johannesburg from August 17-20 for a Kairos 30th anniversary
conference on the theme: 'Dangerous Memory and Hope for the Future.'

This is the statement the conference produced, which is published here for
prayer and comment:

Kairos 30th Anniversary Statement:
Dangerous Memory and Hope for the Future


 


 


We gathered in Johannesburg (near
Cottesloe) from 17 to 20 August 2015, to celebrate how the 1985 South African
Kairos document, “Challenge to the Church,” responded to a moment of truth in
the most painful days of Apartheid. That Kairos document inspired three decades
of Kairos movements in many different contexts. This celebration has now
re-inspired us toward a common humanity and a concern for human dignity and our
environment.


 


The pain of Marikana and the
reasons behind it (multinational profit before people and corporate greed)
hovered over our conference.


 


The 2009 Kairos Palestine
document, “A Moment of Truth,” a cry from the Palestinian Christian community,
carries a disturbing echo of the dangerous memory of the South African story of
Apartheid. Kairos Palestine has evoked a powerful global response from Kairos
contexts around the world. The catalyzing power of Kairos Palestine was deeply
felt in our gathering. We were inspired by this renewed energy. Palestine is
the space where our sacred texts are contested.


 


There was much to celebrate in
this gathering. Our Kairos conversations were intentionally multi-generational
and broadly international. We were grateful to engage deeply with Muslim and
Jewish perspectives. We found much joy in our solidarity and shared struggles.
We were particularly encouraged by the inter-generational nature of this
gathering and how that can be nurtured and encouraged. We are particularly
inspired by the birth Zinzi Kairos Mbenenge during the conference. “… for unto
us a child is given”!


  


A NEW KAIROS


 


We have reached a new moment of
truth, a new Kairos. We recognize how the coming of Jesus and his teaching
about a new kingdom and a new reign against the Roman empire of his day has
completely passed us by. We lament that, by and large, the church of today has
become distracted from this mission of preparing the way for God’s reign.


 


In our time, we find that various
sites of pain and struggle are joined in a Global Kairos, a shared quest for
justice. In our discussions, we named our shared struggle against the scourge
of this global empire of our times. Empire is an all-encompassing global
reality seeking to consolidate all forms of power while exploiting both
Creation and Humanity. The empire we face is not restricted by geography,
tribe, language or economy. Empire is an ideology of domination and
subjugation, fueled by violence, fed by fear and deception. It manifests itself
especially in racial, economic, cultural, patriarchal, sexual, and ecological
oppression. Empire deceptively informs dominant, white supremacist, capitalist
paradigms controlling global systems and structures. Global empire is sustained
by weapons and military bases (hardware) along with ideologies and theologies
(software).


 


We rejoice that resistance
against empire is manifested in a plurality of struggles throughout the world.
Struggles against ecological injustice, gender injustice and patriarchy,
landlessness, abuse of people on the move, refugee vulnerability, political and
religious persecution, social exclusion, denial of indigenous rights,
neglecting children’s rights, harm to LGBTI persons, access for the differently
abled, and racial supremacism represent only a portion of the struggles against
empire. Since 1985, Kairos documents have expressed resistance to these and
other realities in Central America, Europe, Malawi, India, Kenya, Zimbabwe, and
Palestine. In this conference, we were pleased to receive new Kairos documents
from siblings in Swaziland, Nigeria, and the United States. The memory of
unjust suffering in all contexts is dangerous to the purposes of empire.


 


In our listening to one another,
we found that the context of suffering and pain created by Israel’s oppression
of Palestine contains all aspects of empire. Palestine is therefore a microcosm
of global empire, a critical site of reflection that can bring experiences in
other locales into sharper focus. Palestine does not eclipse other situations
around the globe but instead intensifies the need for greater interconnection
and mutual engagement.


 


All Kairos movements emerge from
sites of grave injustice and deep pain. Every Kairos document is a cry to God
and to the world. We confess, however, that we have served two masters and
preached a gospel that requires nothing of the rich young ruler, even as we
build empire on the widow’s mite. We recognize that we and our church
institutions have often closed our ears to our siblings’ cries and drowned them
out. In many cases, very little action has followed. The church has often been
ambiguous and cautious in its response to human suffering. Sometimes, the
church has engaged in active opposition to the liberating work of God present
in communities of resistance, increasing church complicity in structures of
injustice. The church has often provided theologies of domination in the
service of Empire. In our discussions, we found that the South African Kairos
indictment of Church Theology is as relevant in our time as it was in 1985.


 


RESISTING IMPERIAL THEOLOGY


 


The dangerous memory of the South
African Kairos document provided a prophetic critique of State Theology,
theologies that validate and confirm forms of state terror. It identified as
heresy theologies that justify Apartheid. In our time, we are called to expand
this critique and rejection of state theology to address Imperial Theology, the
‘software’ that justifies imperial exploitation and oppression. We were
encouraged to find that, although Empire seeks to divide communities from one
another, peoples’ resistance can unite us across religious, ethnic and culture
divides.


 


Imperial theology is at work in
the continued oppression of Palestinians and the crisis now engulfing what is
known as the Middle East. Analysis and rejection of the State Theology
supporting Apartheid in South Africa was an essential element in exposing and
resisting that sinful system. In its dominant forms, Zionism has been used to
justify the dispossession, transfer, massacring, ghettoization and exploitation
of the Palestinian people. Zionism has become an element within the dominant
structures of empire. Politically, we call for an intensification of all
economic and political pressures on the State of Israel, including the
Palestinian civil society call for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS). In
our biblical interpretation, we strongly distinguish between biblical Israel
and the modern State of Israel. Theologically, we declare to be heresy any
Christian theologies that support the Zionism informing Israeli oppression.


 


We now therefore resolve  


  1. to
    act and pray, inspired by the dangerous memory of Jesus Christ, God’s siding
    with suffering and poor communities, aiming to do all we can to return the
    global and local church to the mission of Jesus to enact the reign of God,
    opening toward a new way of relating to humanity and the earth;

  2. to
    encourage all Christians to respond to the Palestinian Christian call to “come
    and see” the living stones of the Holy Land, providing hope to all who suffer
    under the cross of illegal Israeli Occupation;

  3. to
    advocate that international law must apply equally to all. We reject the
    imperial dictate that imposes sanctions on some regimes while vetoing and
    criminalizing popular calls for sanctions on egregious violations of
    international law;

  4. to
    impress upon our churches, seminaries and theological institutes the need to
    deepen theological engagement with the pressing challenges of the world,
    including the global systems and structures of empire and to promote Kairos
    spirituality;

  5. to
    reflect intentionally on the South African experience of the effectiveness of
    the BDS efforts and express our full support for an intensification of BDS as
    an effective, nonviolent strategy against global empire;

  6. to
    create appropriate systems to ensure that young people will be nurtured and
    mentored in the Kairos understanding of faith, hope, and love and supported in
    their growth into leadership;

  7. to
    express public support for those working against corruption in South Africa;
    while we rejoice that political apartheid has ceased in South Africa, we lament
    that economic apartheid continues; we commit to working toward Kairos Africa to
    ensure that the hopes of the next generation of the African continent are not
    dashed by Empire; and

  8. to
    foster and nurture the Global Kairos for Justice
    movement; we are because you are.
















 We are hard pressed on
every side, but not crushed; perplexed but not in despair, persecuted but not
abandoned; struck down but not destroyed.
(2 Corinthians 4)


  


20 August 2015





Posted: 2015/09/03 (09:43:52 AM)


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