The agony of soul presently experienced within the Dutch Reformed Church (Nederduitse Gereformeerde Kerk) of South Africa about racism is generally unknown or underestimated. As an American from the South, I have throughout my adult life been concerned with this problem, and have closely observed the South African scene, being personally acquainted with all the theologians mentioned in this article. I can affirm that, comparatively, their spiritual agony has produced more biblical and theological probing than has emerged from our southland over the same period and crisis. And in spite of the present apartheid policy of their Nationalist government, they have advanced considererably in their thinking on Christian race relations.
It is not so much what is said—although the general direction of their statements is good—but that they are saying it at all, and the redemptive manner in which they are saying it, that is significant. Even slight examination will disclose how far they have come since Professor J. du Plessis wrote in his History of Christian Missions in South Africa at the beginning of the century, “No responsible missionary today would venture to preach or to practice the doctrine of social equality between the White and the Colored races” or since the (1951) Twenty-second Synod of the DRC of South Africa which declared “that it will not be unchristian for Christians of different races to mix at international congresses, but in social life where national customs and habits are at stake, everyone should maintain his national identity by withdrawing to his own separate circle.”
Within the past year, the majority church of South Africa, which has embarrassed world Christianity with such official policies as the foregoing, ...1
Already a CT subscriber? Log in for full digital access.
Have something to add about this? See something we missed? Share your feedback here.
Subscribe to Christianity Today and get access to this article plus 65+ years of archives.
- Home delivery of CT magazine
- Complete access to articles on ChristianityToday.com
- Over 120 years of magazine archives plus full access to all of CT’s online archives
- Learn more