Van 1619 na 1857 en 1986: 'n Lyn van Dordt na Belhar?

Keywords: Dordt 1618/19, Belhar, NG Kerk, Afsonderlike kerke, Separate churches


The fourth centenary celebration of the Synod of Dordrecht 1618/19, as well as the twenty fifth commemoration of the birth of the Uniting Reformed Church in Southern Africa—both having been celebrated in 2019—naturally leads to the question of the relation between the two historical events. In the historical development leading to the formation of separate churches in the “Dutch Reformed Family of Churches,” a distinct interpretation of election based on grace alone, as decided upon by the Synod of Dordrecht, played a major role. In this historical process of the formation of separate churches the 1857 synod decision by the Dutch Reformed Church has been a watershed moment; it not only brought a separation between people around the Lord’s table, but also a division between confession on the one hand and the practical ministry embodying the confession on the other hand. The 1857 decision eventually led to the necessity of the Belhar Confession in 1986. The Belhar Confession deliberately seeks a linkage to the central Reformed doctrine of “election by grace alone.” The Dutch Reformed Church’s inability and unwillingness to accept the Belhar Confession remain a tragic reality.

Author Biography

Gideon Van der Watt, University of the Free State

Department Practical- and Missional Theology

Faculty of Theology