Original Research

Die Nederduitse Gereformeerde Kerk se afskeid van apartheid: Cottesloe (1960) – ’n voorloper van ‘Kerk en samelewing’ (1986; 1990)?

Piet J. Strauss
In die Skriflig/In Luce Verbi | Vol 54, No 1 | a2529 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ids.v54i1.2529 | © 2020 Piet J. Strauss | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 14 August 2019 | Published: 11 March 2020

About the author(s)

Piet J. Strauss, Department of Historical and Constructive Theology, Faculty of Theology, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa


Some church historians are of the opinion that the Cottesloe Consultation of 1960 rejected apartheid and, by doing so, paved the way for the General Synods of the Dutch Reformed Church (DRC) of 1986 and 1990 with their documents, ‘Church and Society’, to do the same. This article investigates this statement. In its final declaration, Cottesloe made room for representatives of the DRC who believed that a policy of differentiation in South Africa can achieve justice. However, Cottesloe and these representatives also critised some aspects of the implementation of apartheid in South Africa in 1960. According to delegates of the DRC, they wanted to warn the supporters of apartheid: there is a danger that apartheid will not reach its goals. ‘Church and Society’ (1986 and 1990) rejected the concrete policy of the apartheid of its time as a whole. It defined the practical apartheid it rejects. In 1982, the World Alliance of Reformed Churches suspended the DRC as a member because of its theological and moral justification of apartheid. It also declared a status confessionis as the level on which it rejects this theological justification. The documents, ‘Church and Society’, were not acceptable to the Alliance as a token that the DRC rejects apartheid unconditionally and completely. The General Assembly of the Alliance of 1997 defined the apartheid, which it rejects. After the General Synod of the DRC of 1998 accepted this definition, the DRC was accepted again as a full member of the Alliance.


apartheid; Dutch Reformed Church; theology; Cottesloe Consultation; Synod.


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