Human Relations and the South African Scene in the Light of Scripture – Report of the Dutch Reformed Church



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    Human Relations and the South African Scene in the Light of Scripture – Report of the Dutch Reformed Church

    Post by Nico10 on Mon 05 Dec 2011, 5:29 pm

    The report “Human Relations and the South African Scene in the Light of Scripture” as approved and accepted by the General Synod of the Dutch Reformed Church (DRC) in October 1974 sets about the policy of the DRC regarding issues of race at the time it was approved. Today, this report no longer represents the official stance of the DRC. Yet it stands as a testimony to the tragic consequences of a group of people who chose to create a misrepresentation of God – a misrepresentation that misled many people and left a deep scar on the people of South Africa.

    It is important to state that, regarding the DRC, there are quite a number of myths that goes around, there are half-truths that are often represented in the manner most popular by the one doing the presentation, and then there are some fascinating “unknown” information that some might be surprised to learn about the DRC. So, let us start with the myth part.

    It is sometimes said that the DRC in South Africa taught white South Africans that they are a superior race, as opposed to blacks who are thus inferior. Famously, Nelson Mandela makes this observation in his autobiography. It should come as a shock, at least to some, that the DRC never made drew this conclusion formally. It could well have been, that individual ministers was of that particular opinion, and perhaps it was even mentioned from pulpits, but it was never an official doctrine of the DRC.

    A typical example of a half-truth about the DRC is the following: The DRC under apartheid was the National Party at prayer. If this particular report is taken into consideration, there can be no complete denial of such a statement. And yet, it is overwhelming in the way it is stereotyping. The DRC’s members were never 100% a politically united group. While the church supported the policy of apartheid on the one hand, it never openly encouraged any of its members to support the National Party as happened with for example the church in Nazi-Germany. The importance of a church being a-political with regards to party politics forms also part of the discussion in this report.

    But what is typically unknown about the DRC? It is often unknown that the DRC maintained that all people on earth is equal in the eyes of God and that no nation or race or culture is superior to the next when it came to determining their value as human beings. This important viewpoint of the DRC is repeated time and again in “Human Relations and the South African Scene...” Another fairly unknown fact about the DRC is that it only started to Biblically justify apartheid in 1966 – that is 18 years after the National Party came into power and started implementing its apartheid policies!

    But how, if the DRC never preached to its members that they are “a chosen people”, how did it then justify apartheid? It did so by arguing that God has set boundaries between races, and that man are by nature designed to serve God best in his own little corner. Politically, I suppose, there is nothing “wrong” about the particular point of view that you prefer your own kind. Everybody has the right of freedom of association. For the DRC, their problems started when they began to spread the lie that God wants people of different races to live apart. It was inevitable that this view had to change eventually.

    So, having said all this, having exposed some of the myths surrounding the DRC and its race policies, it is important to note that if you are trying to understand why so many Afrikaners lost their faith in God and their loyalty to the DRC, then the report “Human Relations and the South African Scene...” is a very good place to start your study. It is tragic that the DRC provided a theological framework that gave a broad justification to the complex network of laws that was known under the collective term – apartheid. Thus, a study of this document will be very valuable to many people, not only historians and theologians, but also every person who is affected by spirituality, be it their own or that of others – in short, take note. Theology might not be easy to read, but the report “Human Relations and the South African Scene...” is such a great example of how a text (in this case the Bible), can be read in any which way that suits your particular point of view. Luckily, this document is no longer official but a skeleton of days gone by.

    Today, the DRC still struggle to cope with its apartheid legacy. The controversial Belhar confession is causing great confusion even this late into democracy. It is important to take note of the past. It is important, so as to be better equipped for the future, but even more so important maybe, to understand why there is still so much disunity, even at this very moment.

      Current date/time is Tue 18 Sep 2018, 9:21 pm