Original Research

The Formularies of Unity and the Dutch Reformed Church: A preliminary survey

R. M. Britz
In die Skriflig/In Luce Verbi | Vol 27, No 4 | a1476 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ids.v27i4.1476 | © 1993 R. M. Britz | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 11 June 1993 | Published: 11 June 1993

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R. M. Britz,, South Africa

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Abstract

This article undertakes a survey of the application of the Formularies of Unity by the Dutch Reformed Church, covering its history from the 18th century to approximately 1935. Although these Formularies were the accepted confessional basis of the church, it did not prevent additional theological accommodation during the 18th century. During the first part of the 19th century an institutional concept of the church put forward a subscribing formula. The confession became important. In principle the way was opened for an institutional and contractual enforcement of the Formu­laries. This happened when the church was involved in the wide-ranging li­beral struggle during the sixth decade. Even before the 20th century a new approach in which the role of the Formularies was seen more dogmatically and confessionalistically came to the fore. And, when the church was once again entangled in a struggle (viz. the well-known 'Du Plessis case' of the 1930's) the dogmatic point of departure played into the hands of a con­fessional fundamentalism. In the history of the Dutch Reformed Church, the Formularies thus gained in ecclesiological emphasis and value and its application was conditioned by the context and theological influence. Most importantly, the underlying problem of its historicity on the one hand, and its scriptural context and intent on the other hand, remained an unpaid account.

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