The publisher and editors of the Christian Scholar's Review are pleased to announce the presentation of the eleventh annual Christian Scholar's Award to Mark R. Amstutz for his article "Religion and Politics in South Africa: Christian Churches During the Apartheid Era" which appeared in CSR XXV:1 (September, 1995), pp. 8--29. Dr. Amstutz, who is professor of political science at Wheaton College, explored the roles of various Christian churches and leaders in both the construction and dismantling of the apartheid system in South Africa. He also explored the theological implications of those Christian involvements in the social and political order and concluded that that era and those episodes in South African history illumine wider questions of Christian political activism.
While applauding the efforts of anti-apartheid Christians, Amstutz also noted dangers in such Christian activism when it becomes tied to specific partisan political movements and their agendas because "a prophetic politics rooted in partisan theology can unnecessarily politicize religion and distort priorities." In the final analysis, Amstutz concluded, his case study of Christian involvement in apartheid's rise and fall provides the important lesson that "the church must be sufficiently engaged politically to provide redemptive leaven but sufficiently detached to ensure that the redemptive witness is not compromised."
One juror for the award noted that Amstutz's article represents "an excellent and balanced integration of insights from historical, political, and theological studies that is both scholarly and avoids jargon. The piece is informative, timely, and thought-provoking." As editor, I note in addition that it is a model of the kind of faith and learning integration that CSR thrives on. We are proud to honor this piece and author Mark R. Amstutz.
Dr. Amstutz has been a professor of political science at Wheaton since 1972 and became chair of that department at its inception in 1980. He holds the Ph.D. from American University and previously taught at Nyack College and American University. He is the author of several books including Christian Ethics and U.S. Foreign Policy (Zondervan, 1987). He is currently completing a book entitled International Ethics: Concepts, Theories and Cases in Global Politics. Dr. Amstutz and his wife Donna have two daughters and are members of First Presbyterian Church of Glen Ellyn, Illinois.
The Christian Scholar's Award carries a prize of $500 and is given each year to the author of an article judged by a jury of peers representing various disciplines to represent the "best of the best" in the previous volume. Criteria for the award include excellence of scholarship, significance of the contribution made by the article, the importance of the topic for the Christian academic community, and excellence of presentation. Jurors for the eleventh Award were Paul Michelson, Huntington College, David Hoekema, Calvin College, and Mark Noll, Wheaton College.