Original Research

Die Algemene Sinode van die Nederduitse Gereformeerde Kerk van 1990 en die Gelofte van 1838

Piet J. Strauss
In die Skriflig/In Luce Verbi | Vol 55, No 1 | a2717 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ids.v55i1.2717 | © 2021 Piet J. Strauss | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 25 January 2021 | Published: 18 May 2021

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

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The General Synod of the Dutch Reformed Church of 1990 and the Covenant of 1838. The Dutch Reformed Church as a church consisting of mainly Afrikaners, was confronted by a new societal dispensation and a new government in South Africa in and after 1994. The trend of the new constitution of 1996, as well as a new public discourse laid the emphasis on the individual and his rights in a society open to all. This discourse implicitly communicated negative tones on actions, activating minority groups for their own separate ideas. As if the General Synod expected this coming challenge, the Synod of 1990 already had a report of its Commission on Doctrine and Actual Affairs on the Dutch Reformed Church, keeping the Day of the Covenant of the Voortrekkers in 1838. This article investigated the stance of this General Synod on this issue with two, seemingly main objectives: an acceptable, grounded reason for people to keep the Day of the Covenant, and a positive link between the Covenant of 1838 and reconciliation in a modern South Africa. The method used was a study of literature and primary sources on these issues. The General Synod of 1990 made two relevant statements in its new environment. In the first place, it decided that individuals should associate with the Covenant on moral grounds and not because they are forced to do so. The core of the Covenant of 1838 was the request that God enable people taking the vow, to win the battle foreseen – the Battle of Blood River – and to promote Christian values for establishing a new Christian society. An issue which is still relevant in South Africa today. That is why the Voortrekkers promised to build a church as the focus point of their forseen society. The second statement of this Synod was that reconciliation as a catchword in the 1990s in Christian South Africa, is part of the promotion of a Christian society. Reconciliation in a biblical perspective remains relevant in South Africa.

Contribution: Seen from the approach of this article as a Christian approach, these statements of the General Synod of 1990 help the Dutch Reformed Church as church to fulfil its tasks in Soutern Africa today.


support; covenant; culture; race; sabbatical; commemorating; honour God; covenant; morally; spiritual character.


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