Eenheid, paternalisme en “geen gelykstelling” Die wesenskenmerke van die verhouding van die NG Kerk tot die NG Sendingkerk soos beliggaam in die Sinodebesluite van die NG Kerk van 1857 en 1880

DP (snr) Botha


Unity, paternalism and ‘No equalisation’ – the fundamental characteristics of the relationship of the DR Church with the DR Mission Church as embodied in the Synod Decisions of the DR Church from 1857 to 1880.
Paradoxically the leitmotif for the resolutions of the Dutch Reformed Church at its synods of 1857 and 1880 to create separate ministries for persons of colour was the unity of the church and its mission enterprise. In 1857 this ideal was aimed at by introducing the principle of the Middle Course (way), which endeavoured to reconcile two opposing realities. On the one hand there was the need for the church to retain and strengthen its spiritual influence over the freed slave community, which tended to drift away from the church of their former masters. On the other hand there was the cultural legacy of a slave-owning community, which manifested itself in a society of two classes in which the upper class (mainly white) strongly resisted any measure that would lead to social equality with the lower class (all persons of colour). The Middle Course tried to accommodate both realities by demanding that the unity of the social classes be maintained in the congregations of the church through common worship, but that where this was unattainable due to the resistance of the upper class to social equalisation with the lower class, congregations were allowed to serve the members of the lower class with Word and Sacrament in a separate building. The members of the upper class were in paternalistic control of all church affairs. For the next century or more the ethos of the Dutch Reformed Church in her dealings with the fruits of her mission enterprise was characterised by this ambiguity of striving after unity with her Young Churches, but upholding her stance of “no equalisation” and paternalistically controlling the relations. The missionary situation in and outside of the congregations after 1857 was so varied that the Middle Course could not be applied generally. When in 1880, however, the Dutch Reformed Mission Church was established the principles of the Middle Course were applied. The young church was church politically powerless, theologically ignorant and socially subservient. It would take decades of hard struggle to attain self-determination in church polity and theological equivalence with the Dutch Reformed Church, without sacrificing the essential unity that Christ has endowed. This quest continues.


Middle Course (way); Mission Station; No Social Equality; Paternalism; Unity;No equalisation

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ISSN 2226-2385 (online); ISSN 0028-2006 (print)

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