Original Research - Special Collection: Synod of Dordrecht (1618-1619) - Important missiological perspectives

The 1619 Dordrecht Synod’s decision on corruptio totalis: A missional challenge for the church in terms of media reporting on corruption in South Africa

Eugene Baron
In die Skriflig/In Luce Verbi | Vol 53, No 3 | a2407 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ids.v53i3.2407 | © 2019 Eugene Baron | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 07 September 2018 | Published: 18 February 2019

About the author(s)

Eugene Baron, Department Christian Spirituality, Church History and Missiology, University of South Africa, South Africa


The doctrinal controversy, which led to the formal Synod in Dordrecht (1618–1619), had many stakeholders. The different European countries and its governments also had much at stake in terms of how the issue would have been dealt with by the Reformed Church. Although for different reasons than now, the controversy and the ultimate decision taken at the renowned Synod still has significance for the church and society in the 21st century and even beyond. Therefore, a recent study on the reporting of four South African newspapers on corruption (as a form of sin) is telling in terms of the way such cases are presented. Their reporting displays a different way of presenting ‘sin’ mainly as an actual sin and not as a human condition which calls for the church, in response to the missio Dei, to reflect theologically on contemporary media discourse on ‘sin’ if it wants to address the root cause of corruption in South Africa. Although I realise that there is other ways for the church to respond to widespread corruption, this article focuses mainly on a theological contribution in terms of a broader discussion on ‘sin’.


corruptio totalis; media reporting; Synod of Dort; sin; corruption; newspapers


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