Public issues perceived from the theological left flank: the social ethics of Ramsden Balmforth in the Union of South Africa
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For decades research into the history of Christian social ethics in South Africa has illuminated responses within a broad spectrum of major denominations to public issues, but has thus far shed considerably less light on how believers outside these denominations reacted to various questions. Unitarians are in the latter camp. Although few in number, they offered opinions and engaged in activities from a noteworthy intellectual perspective which was largely an extension of nineteenth- century developments in European theology, philosophy, and political thought amalgamated with a focus on the ethical teachings of Jesus. For forty years beginning in 1897 while he ministered to the Free Protestant Church in Cape Town, English-born Ramsden Balmforth commented prolifically on a variety of important issues and in some instances participated in movements to redress grievances voiced by disadvantaged groups within the ethnic amalgam of the Union of South Africa. The present study examines several of this Christian socialist’s positions against the backdrop of his meta-ethical precepts.
- Faculty of Theology