Original Research

Die NG Kerk oor ‘Kerk en Samelewing’ voor en na 1994 – ’n Evaluering van drie dokumente

Piet J. Strauss
In die Skriflig/In Luce Verbi | Vol 56, No 1 | a2831 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ids.v56i1.2831 | © 2022 Piet J. Strauss | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 18 January 2022 | Published: 20 September 2022

About the author(s)

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


The Dutch Reformed Church about ‘Church and Society’ before and after 1994 – An evaluation of three documents. In its aim, to guide the members of its congregations in the last days of official apartheid in South Africa in a pastoral and ethical way, the General Synod of the Dutch Reformed Church formulated the documents Church and Society of 1986 and 1990. The General Synod applied its interpretation of biblical norms like love thy neighbour, justice and human dignity, to say that apartheid as the forced separation and unequal, unjust treatment of people of different communities, could not be justified. The church opted for a new societal dispensation in one South Africa, although it left the practical side of it to the chosen politicians. When confronted by the new dispensation in 1994, the study commission that was appointed to help their church members to understand the new South Africa as based on the human rights of individuals, was uncritical about the humanistic-individualistic foundation of the new society. The fruits of their study were sent to be studied in congregations. This movement led to the end of an effort in this regard on the level of the General Synod. Between their approach to apartheid and the new society, the reports before the General Synod of the Dutch Reformed Church did not maintain the same principles, nor did it maintain an ecclesiastical independence. The report of 1998 did not show the same critical approach as the reports on apartheid in 1986 and 1990.

Contribution: This article concentrates on the view of the Dutch Reformed Church on practical apartheid before it officially ended in 1994. The critical approach of practical apartheid as undertaken by this church is investigated through a church historical study of literature. Three documents on church and society eventually came out of the General Synod: Church and Society 1986, Church and Society 1990 and the Church and a new dispensation in 1998. The Dutch Reformed Church, however, did not use the same point of departure before than after 1994.


church; Church and Society; Dutch Reformed Church; apartheid; South Africa


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