The Dutch Reformed Church, Mission Enthusiasts and Push and Pull of Empire

Retief Müller


The various ways in which the British Empire acted as both a beacon and a repellent for Dutch Reformed Church (DRC) mission enthusiasts in the late 19th to early 20th centuries, are considered here. Focusing especially on Andrew Murray Jr, D.F. Malan and J.G. Strydom, but also with references to Johannes du Plessis and G.B.A. Gerdener, among others, the article illustrates the evolution of Afrikaner attitudes to Empire in this period. The Empire in question is primarily the British Empire, but this paper will make the case that the developing Afrikaner nationalism, in which some of these mission enthusiasts played leading roles, in some ways appropriated imperial aspirations, while simultaneously disavowing Empire in public discourse. The wider and more general relevance of this paper is that it sheds light on the allure of power, and how a minority in opposition to power might become contaminated, even captured, by that very power it seeks to oppose.


Dutch Reformed Church (DRC); British Empire; Afrikaner nationalism; colonialism; apartheid; Christian mission

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Copyright (c) 2019 Retief Müller

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