Allan Aubrey Boesak

Desmond Tutu Chair of Peace, Global Justice and Reconciliation Studies

Phone: (317) 931-4441


Born in 1946, in Kakamas, Northern Cape, South Africa, Rev. Dr. Allan Aubrey Boesak is a theologian, humanitarian, prolific author and tireless advocate for social justice. Since gaining international acclaim for his doctoral dissertation, “Farewell to Innocence,” nearly four decades ago, Boesak has emerged as one of the world’s preeminent authorities on liberation theology.  In June 2013, Christian Theological Seminary and Butler University named Boesak the Desmond Tutu Chair of Peace, Global Justice, and Reconciliation Studies, following his role as a theologian and visiting professor at both institutions during the 2012-13 academic year.

Boesak studied at the University of Western Cape and earned his doctorate in theology from the Protestant Theological University in Kampen, the Netherlands. His early activism and service led to international recognition as an influential leader in the fight against apartheid. During the 1980s he worked alongside Desmond Tutu and Nelson Mandela to lead efforts against apartheid and promote reconciliation.

Community and Political Leadership

Boesak brings decades of political and community service to his role at CTS and Butler University. His social justice advocacy during some of the 20th century’s most tumultuous social eras served to advance a wide breadth of organizations committed to advancing the reconciliation movement.

An abbreviated summary of his leadership from the 1970s thru the dawn of the 21st century includes: board member of the Christian Institute of Southern Africa; National President, Association of Christian Students in South Africa; Chairman, The Confessing Circle of the Black Dutch Reformed Churches; Editor of Dunamis, the quarterly publication of The Confessing Circle; President, Alliance of Black Reformed Christians in Southern Africa; National Vice President, South African Council of Churches; and advisor on theological and socio-political matters to several ecumenical bodies, including the World Council of Churches and the All Africa Conference of Churches. He also served as President of the World Alliance of Reformed Churches, and as founding member of the Ecumenical Association of Third World Theologians, and advisor to the Apartheid Commission of the UN.

Boesak was a participant in a specially appointed international group on Non Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons chaired by Sir Shidrath Ramphal (Commonwealth), Pres Julius Nyerere (Tanzania), and Mr. Rajiv Ghandi (Prime Minister of India) between 1985 and 1986. He was a key negotiator during discussion on sanctions on the South African regime’s Commonwealth Heads of State/Heads of Government meeting in Kuala Lampur in 1989, and a member of the International Commission on the Future of the United Nations, chaired by Sir Shridath Ramphal and Swedish Prime Minister Ingvar Carlson between 1990 and 1993.

Theological, Church and Academic Leadership

Beyond his accomplishments fighting apartheid, Boesak’s leadership in theological, church and academic settings is equally expansive and spans decades. Between 1982 and 1990 he served as a moderator of the Dutch Reformed Mission Church in South Africa and as vice-moderator of the General Synod and moderator of the Regional Synod of the Western Cape.  He has served as a keynote speaker and Bible study leader at several ecumenical assemblies including the World Council of Churches, All Africa Conference of Churches, Asian Christian Conference, Caribbean Council of Churches and South African Council of Churches.

Prior to his work at CTS and Butler, Boesak taught and lectured at several theological institutions, colleges and universities throughout North America, Asia and Europe. In 1987, he served as a Bible study leader, speaker and main Kirchentag Preacher at German Kirchentag in Frankfurt. He served as Inaugural Lecturer at Calvin College’s Multi-Cultural Lecturship program in Grand Rapids, Michigan. In 1988, Boesak was opening speaker at the International Bonhoeffer Congress in Amsterdam.  Between 1995 and 1997, he taught at American Baptist Seminary of the West in Berkeley, California.

An accomplished scholar on Calvinism, Boesak is a member of Calvin Commemoration Patronage Committee of the World Alliance of Reformed Churches and served as a member of the Lombard Panel for the John Calvin Essay competition for young theologians in 2009.

He also served as head of “The Globalisation Project” of the Uniting Reformed Church in Southern Africa and the German Reformed Church at Stellenbosch University, and Professor Extraordinaire, Systematic Theology, Stellenbosh University; and Research Fellow, the Beyers Naude Center for Public Theology.

His scholarship has led to Boesak being awarded multiple honorary doctoral degrees from some of the world’s most esteemed higher education institutions in the United States, Canada, England and Switzerland.


A prolific writer, Boesak has authored 17 books, and edited or co-edited four, in addition to publishing numerous articles on theology and politics. 


Numerous honors and awards have been presented to Boesak in recognition of his leadership on humanitarian, reconciliation, social justice and theological leadership. 

Curriculum Vitae