Original Research

Should we blame Calvinism for the development of apartheid in South Africa? A perspective from the Reformed Churches in South Africa: A case study

J.H. van Wyk
In die Skriflig/In Luce Verbi | Vol 50, No 1 | a2155 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ids.v50i1.2155 | © 2016 J.H. van Wyk | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 06 June 2016 | Published: 25 November 2016

About the author(s)

J.H. van Wyk, Unit for Reformed Theology, North-West University, Potchefstroom Campus,, South Africa


In his book The Irony of Apartheid (1981), I. Hexham argues that Calvinists – also those from Potchefstroom – formulated and promoted the ideology of apartheid. In this article this statement is investigated by comparing it to the view of the Dutch historian, Gerrit Schutte, who blamed Hertzog, Malan and the volksnasionaliste [nationalists] for the development of the Afrikaner ideology. The views of Calvinist individuals and organisations, especially some hailing from Potchefstroom as well as those of the Gereformeerde Kerke van Suid-Afrika (GKSA) are examined and a far more nuanced conclusion is reached. The article ends with some short remarks on the everlasting question about the relation between (national) unity and (cultural) diversity.


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