Several theological reflections on the use of violence to fight injustice have been sento the World Council of Churches as reactions to a background paper on South Africa it as distributed.
The document, writter by Dr. Baldwin Sjolleman of the WCC's Program to Combat Racism, has drawn controversy for its suggestion that the churches consider defining a "just rebellion" as many have supported the concept of a "just war."
In March, the Council of the Evangelical Church of Germany disassociated itself from the paper and charged that it was "irresponsible" of the WCC to distribute it.
The International Fellowship of Reconciliation, a pacifist group based in Holland, says in its response that "counter-violence from the South African black majority and its allies is, in a profoundly human sense, quite 'justified.'"
But, it continues, "One cannot help but sympathize with those whom violence has driven to violence -but do such sympathies require religious endorsement of civil war?"
The Fellowship suggest that the WCC "find ways to offer its solidarity in ways which affirm the right of human beings to live, as it has in fact long been doing so far as its resources allowed."
Dr. O. Jager, professor at the Theological Academy of Kampen. Netherlands, noted in his response that a statement adopted at the 1966 WCC Church and Society Conference warned that "the recommendation of non-violence and the warming against violent revolution can also become an ideological means - means whereby one disarms those who grasp for such an extreme solution."
He asserted that "an ivory tower theology rejecting violent revolutions is as dangerous as the opposite."
Dr. Wolfgang Schweitzer, professor of systematic theology at the Theological Seminary at Bethel, West Germany, called for more reflection on the "justification and limits of the use of violence by governments." He said it is only in this context that a discussion of such concepts as "rebellion" or "just rebellion" can be placed.
The Federation of Protestant Churches in the German Democratic Republic, an association of Reformed. Lutheran, and United territorial bodies, said in an intial reaction that "we shall not leave our brother ans sisters in South Africa in doubt about our solidarity with them."
Referring to three bills under consideration in the South African Parliament to control the activities of social workers and the collection of funds from outside agencies, the East German churches' statement asserted that "it will be disastrous if assistance to the victims of oppression is made illegal, including the soccor given by the churches in obedience to the Gospel."