Tutu-Jonker Prestige Lecture Series tackles reconciliation
2017-11-13

Description: ' 000 a Tutu Jonker Prestige Lecture Tags: Tutu Jonker Prestige Lecture

Prof Rian Venter; Prof Eddy van der Borght, guest speaker from Vrije
Universiteit, Amsterdam; and Prof Fanie Snyman, Dean of the Faculty
of Theology and Religion at the UFS.
Photo: Supplied

The Faculty of Theology and Religion recently hosted the annual Tutu-Jonker Prestige Lecture Series at the Bloemfontein Campus of the University of the Free State (UFS). The purpose of the lecture series is to address modern-day and pressing social challenges from a theological and religious perspective.

With the theme Religions and reconciliation of conflicting identities, guest speaker and Desmond Tutu Chair on reconciliation at the Faculty of Theology: Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Prof Eddy van der Borght, spoke about the reformation in the context of shifting European identity formations.

Reconciliation versus social identity

“My focus is on what the Christian concept of reconciliation means for reconciliation in society,” said Prof Van der Borght. He deliberated the global problem of conflict generated by diverse social identities. He also emphasised that religion has huge resources to contribute towards overcoming conflicting identities.

“The theory is that religions know about reconciliation, while in practice it is much more complicated, because often religions are part of the problem of conflict,” he says. He said religions are often the problem in social cultural identities, especially regarding conflict involving different nations, racial, and ethnic groups.

Honouring prominent theologians Tutu and Jonker

The name Tutu-Jonker originates from the two theologians, Emeritus Archbishop Desmond Tutu and the late Prof Willie Jonker, who are both regarded as prominent theologians known for their emphasis on reconciliation in South Africa. The significance of combining the two names is said to bring together two different theological traditions (Anglican and Reformed), cultural groups, and races.

Prof Fanie Snyman, Dean of the Faculty of Theology and Religion, said, “This will also serve the purpose of a welcoming culture at the faculty, embracing diversity and embodying reconciliation.” Both of these theologians received honorary doctorates in Theology from the UFS.