The Reformation tradition as vantage point on the Karoo horizon

A horizon means that one learns to look beyond what is close at hand – not in order to look away from it, but to see it better within a larger whole and truer proportion.” Alexander Murray

The Karoo in South-Africa is a semi-desert area that is known for extremes. Hot as hell in summer and freezing cold in the winter. Growing up in the South-Eastern part of the Karoo and recently visiting there I was amazed with the 360-degree view of the African horizon. If there is such thing as a skyscraper in Somerset-East it will probably be a church tower. I would like to think of my roots in the Reformed tradition as a vantage point towards the 360-degree horizon.

The philosopher Hans-Georg Gadamer argued that “a person without a horizon will overvalue what is immediately present, whereas the horizon enables us to sense the relative significance of what is near or far, great or small.” The Reformed tradition as a vantage point on the horizon helps me to approach certain historical information and stories, it helps me to comprehend the present reality and it helps me to think about the future.

In this process Norman F. Cantor reminds us that this is a dangerous process as “we usually tend to discover the past we set out to find. This is not because the past is wilfully imagined fiction but because it is such a complicated and multifaceted reality.” Every age is marked out by what it takes self-evident and uncritically for granted. We are all products of the time we live in and we all carry certain ideologies that makes us look at the past, present and future in certain ways.

The Reformation tradition is certainly not THE vantage point, but it helps me to be aware of my own eye patches. This makes me aware of my own limitations in my view of life, my God images and encourages me to embrace different vantage points in order to follow Jesus Christ.