Original Research - Special Collection: Theological perspectives on the Presbyterial church governance system

Teologie en Kerkreg: Wat word van die Heilige Gees in ons teologie en in die Kerkreg?

Johannes Smit
In die Skriflig/In Luce Verbi | Vol 58, No 1 | a3046 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ids.v58i1.3046 | © 2024 Johannes Smit | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 04 December 2023 | Published: 24 May 2024

About the author(s)

Johannes Smit, Unit for Reformational Theology and the Development of the South African Society, Faculty of Theology, North-West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa


Theology and Church Polity: What becomes of the Holy Spirit in our theology and Church Polity? Currently, a shift in theological training is taking place in South Africa. University faculties, which previously trained students for church ministry, do not meet the requirements set by churches. From churches side, efforts are even being made to establish private theological educational institutions. The focus of this article is on the nature of the theological training, which may be or will be offered at these institutions. There are indications that the theology, as mentioned refers to 17th-century Puritanism, the Dutch Nearer Reformation and Neo-Calvinism. The point of view stated here is as follows: The 17th-century theology does not offer a basis for a reformed (Scripture-based) theological education or a resistance to liberal theology. An intrinsic characteristic of reformed theology, namely that the Holy Spirit maintains theology as a unity between its extreme poles, is replaced by rationalism. In its core the secularisation of theology is already present. A fundamental problem in this theology is the place attributed to the Holy Spirit. What becomes of the teaching of the Holy Spirit if the 17th-century theology is redeployed in the 21st-century circumstances? The following points serve as a guideline for answering this question: the change of direction of the teaching of the Holy Spirit in 16th-century Reformed theology, radicalisation of theology, covenant theology as warp and weft, and the hard yoke of the law. In conclusion it is stated that rationalism infiltrated theology, which gave rise to a theological dogmatism, church confessionalism, church legalism, and a rigidity in the organisation of church life.

Contribution: Re-evaluation and restructuring of Reformed church polity and its practice (church government).


Holy Spirit; theological training; church government; Puritanism; reformed theology, 17th century; 21 century.

Sustainable Development Goal

Goal 4: Quality education


Total abstract views: 304
Total article views: 337

Crossref Citations

No related citations found.