Too little too late … On the reaction of the WARC to the resurgence of violent identity politics in the 1990s

  • Eddy Van de Borgth
Keywords: World Alliance of Reformed Churches, Identity-politics in the 1990s, Race, Nation, Ecclesiology


This contribution offers an analysis of the manner the World Alliance of Reformed Churches reacted to the influence of the identity politics of the 1990s on its way to the 23rd General Assembly in Debrecen in 1997. contrary to the outspoken position of the 21st General Assembly in Ottawa in 1982 over against the South African Reformed churches that supported apartheid and adopted its racial structures correspondently, the 1997 Assembly’s reaction was much more subdued. Attempts to find an answer in the traditional Reformed teaching on church-state relations and in the Presbyterian Synodal structure were finally dismissed as not to the point. Instead a Barmen Declaration like call for a multicultural church was accepted. But with its eschatological style no church felt pressed upon to reflect on its link with nation, ethnic group, or tribe. The conclusion weights the consequences of reducing an ecclesial problem to an ethical issue.