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. Third Monday of every month

Thursday Mornings: 9:30 – 12:30. Last Thursday of every month

Saturday Mornings: 9:30 – 12:30. Last Saturday of every month

Closed Cohort: We can also run a “closed” cohort just for your church or organisation. If this is something you would be interested in then contact us at and we can discuss possibilities

Johannesburg Cohort: we are currently exploring the possibilities of running cohorts in the Jo’burg Pretoria area. If this interests you get in touch so we can determine interest and discuss possibilities.

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

What content will be covered?

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

Unit One: What is Cross Centred Justice?

For over a hundred years the church has had running debates as to which is more important, social justice or gospel proclamation. 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.

Unit Two: What is the Mission of the Church?

If God is a God of justice who cares deeply about the poor, what then is the mission of the church? In this unit we will 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 for 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. On the one hand, the church’s legacy has been silent acquiescence or the legitimizing of racial division and economic inequality, and on the other hand the gospel has provided the seeds of liberation and equality. Division and exclusion, has equally permeated and shaped the church’s own structures and dealings with one another. How we understand the past is crucial to our role and legacy as the church in contemporary post-apartheid South Africa.

Unit Six: Contextualization

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

Unit Seven: White Theology, Whiteness and Decolonization

In this unit we will explore a biblical understanding of race and question how our understanding of colour affects how we formulate and practice our theology? Is there a need for a decolonizing of our theology whilst maintaining gospel fidelity? Is there such a thing as white theology?

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, as both the church organic and institutional. A key area of concern will be the relationship of the gospel to the issue of land in South African today.

Unit 9: Ministry in a non-Western Context

Most of our framework and methodology for ministry has been developed in and for a western context. What might a non-Western, gospel shaped methodology look like? What are the issues or concerns which would shape or drive such a methodology?

Unit 10: Three Levels of Justice

This unit will explore a working framework for churches or individuals to engage both strategically and compassionately with issues of justice and mercy. This session will explore the different aspects of justice (charity/relief; development and structural), how they relate to each other and why it is crucial that we clearly understand at which level of justice we are operating, as well as the dangers of confusing the different levels for unintentionally perpetuating existing cycles of dependence or injustice. We will also introduce some tools used for contextual analysis.

You can also download this information as a PDF here

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 John Scheepers at