Sphere sovereignty and irreducibility: The ambiguous use of Abraham Kuyper's ideas during the time of apartheid in South Africa
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The purpose of this article is to highlight the notion that the concept of sphere sovereignty as postulated by Abraham Kuyper was used in an ambiguous if not invidious manner in the history of South Africa, specifically during the time of apartheid. On the one hand, it is associated with the justification of apartheid, which is particularly evident in the document Human relations and the South African scene in the light of Scripture (1976). On the other hand, it is also associated with Black Liberation Theology, specifically by Alan Boesak, who resisted apartheid. The problem is that both these perspectives reduce the complexity of reality to race. According to Kuyper sphere sovereignty meant that no aspect of reality could be an absolute point of departure to structure the whole and each aspect is sovereign in its own domain. Thus, race or any other aspect cannot be the norm to structure reality. The unity and the structure of creation are located in God as creator of all reality. It is precisely this irreducible perspective of Kuyper that can be beneficial for postapartheid South Africa because it views reality as a complex connectivity.