Study Cohorts

Study cohorts exists for those wanting a more in-depth programme of theological and practical reflection in understanding and applying cross-centred, contextual justice to the South African context. In-depth study and reflection on Scripture will form a central tenant of this course, which will also include discussion of church history, the history of South Africa, sociological understandings of race and power, and reflections on relevant theologians or theological schools of thought. This course will give the participant not only a robust theological understanding of Cross-Shaped Justice but also a practical framework for actually doing justice and mercy in contemporary South Africa.

What format will the course take?

The course will run for ten months from February to November with a monthly contact session taking place each month. This year we will be offering a number of potential options for contact session.

There will a number of set readings and short assignments which each participant must complete before the contact session. The contact session will be a mixture of seminar, group discussion, presentation of set assignments and contextual learning exercises. A full set of electronic notes will be provided for each participant.

You can also download this information as a PDF here

New Cohort Options for 2019:

Venues and exact times will be finalized once we have a confirmed core of participants. Please indicate which Cohort you would prefer when you register. All cohorts are dependent on having a core group of participants.

Monday Evenings:

19:00 – 21:30 (once a month). Cape Town based. More information and dates for our Monday cohort here

Thursday Mornings:

9:30 – 12:30 (once a month) Cape Town based. More information and dates for our Thursday cohort here

Johannesburg/Pretoria Cohort:

Most contact session will be happening electronically using an online platform, as well as a two-day in person contact session, in the Johannesburg/Pretoria region. These exact dates will be arranged with the participants. The contact session time and dates will be arranged in consultation with participants who sign up. Fill in a registration form (here) or contact for more information.

*This format could be duplicated for other centres as well.

What content will be covered?

The cohort will comprise of ten units, each unit being the topic of one contact session.

Unit One: Locating Yourself in the Story:

This unit will focus on who we are and what we bring into the process of learning. None of us start a process of learning from a neutral position. All of our stories are a complex interaction of personal journey, inherited theology, contextual and historical formation, as well as personal spirituality and individuality. This unit will prepare us for the learning process by helping us recognise who we are and what we bring “into the room” with us. In particular how has your story influenced how you understand the gospel, church, theology, race and justice?

Unit Two: What is Cross Centred Justice?

In this unit we will briefly trace through the integral nature of both justice and evangelism to God’s plan of redemption through the biblical story. In this unit we will also explore the relationship between evangelism and social action in the life and mission of the church.

Unit Three: Biblical Economics:

In this unit we will explore a biblical understanding of the roots of poverty; discuss what role God’s people ought to play in caring for the poor and the marginalized, and develop a brief biblical theology of economics, power and wealth among God’s people.

Unit Four: A History of Evangelicals and Social Action:

In this unit we will briefly touch on the history of social action among the early church, the reformation, the Great Awakening and the early missionary movements. Most of our attention though will be focussed on the rise of the Social Gospel, the Great Reversal and the subsequent recovery of evangelical social action at Lausanne and post Lausanne developments.

Unit Five: The History of the South African Church and Inequality:

This unit explores the complex and inconsistent history of the church in South Africa, through on the one hand, silent complicity and active promotion of apartheid’s racial and economic oppression. Whilst on the other hand the providing the seeds of liberation and the struggle for inequality. This unit will examine how division and inequality has permeated her own structures and significantly shaped her mission to the world. Particular attention will be given to the role of evangelicals and apartheid.

Unit Six: How Context Affects Faith:

In this unit we explore the basic principles of contextualization and ask questions about the contextual nature of the gospel in Africa and what it could look like to contextualize our theology and practice into an African context. How does context affect how we read the Bible and formulate our theology? How does context influence how we understand the gospel and the mission of the church? How does context influence our understanding of race and justice?

Unit Seven: Race and Faith:

In this unit we will explore a biblical, as well as an historical and sociological understanding of race. Is there only one race? Isn’t race a sociological construct? Does the gospel make us colour-blind? What is implicit bias and how does it affect how we do theology and the shape our church’s and ministry takes? What is white privilege and how do we see it at work in the church today?

Unit Eight: Reconciliation and Restitution:

In this unit we will firstly explore a biblical understanding of reconciliation and restitution and then we will contemplate the contextual implications for us today. Both as individuals and as the church. A key area of concern will be the relationship of the gospel to the issue of land in South Africa today.

Unit Nine: Christianity as a non-Western Faith:

Is there a need for a decolonizing of our theology whilst maintaining gospel fidelity? Does the Bible itself need to be decolonised? What is black theology? Is there such a thing as white theology? What could a non-Western or decolonised faith look like? What role does culture play in the formation of our theology?

Unit Ten: Prophetic Imagination:

In this final unit we will explore the concept of the Prophetic Imagination, the capacity to move beyond what the world seems to be to see the world as it might be. Prophetic imagination shaped by Scripture and context opens up our imagination to the possibility of a different world, shaped by God’s vision of the world.

You can also download this information as a PDF here

What previous participants have said:

It is with real delight that I commend the Isiphambano Study Cohort, which I had the opportunity to partake in this year. I have so appreciated being exposed to outstanding scholarship regarding the history and mission of the church and learning about perspectives of significant evangelical leaders in the ‘two thirds’ world. What was even more valuable was engaging with this material in a diverse group of men and women from different churches across the city. These monthly learning moments were facilitated with skill and grace and the opportunity to reflect on what my theology and practice is in relation to the biblical call for cross-centered and contextual justice has been invaluable.

Leigh Berg
Jubilee Community Church

“The Isiphambano Cohort is a phenomenal space to grapple and grow Theologically with the issue of Justice. The yearlong cohort has helped me fill in some of the blinds spots I have around this critical issue in our time, and it has also informed the way I do theology. I would encourage anyone seeking to grapple and develop a contextual ministry philosophy to be a part of this.”

Grant Porthen
Eden Network Coordinator

“The cohort has introduced me to work of remarkable, Southern Hemisphere-based evangelical leaders like Samuel Escobar, Ruth Padilla Du Borst and Rene Padilla. Prior to joining the cohort i had never heard these names. I’m thankful to have been exposed to their work in the justice arena. The prescribed readings in the cohort are engaging and challenging and helps to sharpen my theological perspectives on justice.”

Jeremy Koeries
International Lead Team and South Africa Country Leader, J-Life Africa

“The Isiphambano Centre for Biblical Justice is providing a much-needed voice in the justice arena. Through the Study Cohort, I have learned essential paradigms and frameworks that equip me to be faithful to God’s text and the context of South Africa. Through the cohort, a diverse group of South Africans have been grappling and discussing rich theology. This cohort creates an environment that makes this a heart journey, shaped by the Word. I recommend this cohort to anyone who wants to ensure that the cross is at the centre of their passion and practice of justice.”

Richard Lundie
Common Good Congregational Support Team Leader

“The Study Cohort has been an amazing engagement as we met as Christians of different churches. Both the readings and group discussions cut to the core of one’s everyday life experiences on matters of justice. Lessons learnt in the study cohorts compel you to reflect deeply on how far the church (your church) is dealing with matters of justice in our times. It’s sad to admit that we still lack behind as we did pre-democracy in SA. I encourage every maturing Christian to take part in such studies. They will sharpen your everyday Christian living in our times.”

Katleho Meslane
Children’s Pastor, St Thomas’ Church, Heideveld

What does it cost?

The cost for 2019 will be R 850 per quarter due at the beginning of each school term (January, April, July, October). A R 300 deposit is required at registration which will be offset against your first term’s fees.

How do I apply?

Download the registration form here and send it back together with the proof of payment of your deposit to


Any queries or further questions please contact