Rev. Makgoba framed his lecture with what he described as a well-known but controversial piece of scripture (Romans 13:1): "Every person must be subject to the governing authorities, for no authority exists except by God's permission. The existing authorities have been established by God." He asked that people apply the lens from Liberation Theology to this verse in order to provide it with context. The particular lens he offered was "critical solidarity" between church and state. And, he suggested that in South Africa this has often meant "too much solidarity and too little criticism".
He remained confident that solidarity was called for and necessary between the church and the South African Constitution which he believes can be "God's servant for Good." But, that it is essential to criticize policies and decisions which are in conflict with the Constitutional Vision.
In a very interesting way, the Archbishop described how religious understandings of "Covenant" can be usefully applied to "Critical Solidarity", and particularly how a "covenantal" view differs from a "contractual" view in regard to civil society. Quoting the Chief Rabbi of the United Kingdom, he described how moving from Contract to Covenant means moving from:
- Interest to Identity
- Transactions to Relationship
- Benefits to Transformation
- Competition to Cooperation
Needless to say, we were all deeply touched by the Archbishop's ideas. And, we spoke with each other and Reverend Gordon Oliver (the former minister of the Unitarian Church of Cape Town and the former Mayor of Cape Town during the struggle to end apartheid) long into the night. The path of our pilgrimage is being deeply shaped by each of Friday's events.