Is there any hope for church unity?
Some perspectives on the causes of the Reformed Churches split since the Reformation and its impact on church unity discussions today
Abstracthis article gives some perspectives on the causes of the Reformed Churches split since the time of reformation and how these divisions impacts on church unity discussions today. Since reformation, church divisions took place in various forms and discussions about church reunification became a focal point in the reformed world. These splits amongst reformed churches seem to have caused traumatic stress and inflicted deep wounds that are very difficult to heal in full, especially in the context of South Africa. This article briefly looks at some causes of split in the reformed world by paying attention to the work of Lukas Vischer and also by sketching some few causes of church split within the Dutch Reformed family of churches in the South African context. This article does not really pay attention to an in-depth discussion on church unity, rather, it places the interest on issues of church divisions which impact negatively on the true unity of the church. A question can be asked: can we really hope for a genuine unity of the church given the history of these splits? Put it differently: Is there any hope for an authentic church unity amongst reformed churches locally and globally? The article argues that the history of these divisions makes it very hard if not impossible to hope for an authentic church unity, given the currently lived experiences of divisions, the irreconcilability of people and the unhealed wounds inflicted in the past. For an authentic church unity to be achieved and lived positively, the article suggests that injustices of the past needs to be addressed, especially between the Dutch Reformed family of churches.
Once an article is published in Stellenbosch Theological Journal (STJ)extends an exclusive license agreement, where authors have copyright but license exclusive rights in their article to the Pieter de Waal Neethling Trust (PDWN Trust). The PDWN Trust is a trust fund established in 1932. In this case authors have the right to:
- Share their article in the same ways permitted to third parties under the relevant user license (together with Personal Use rights) so long as it contains the Creative Commons Attribution License, and a DOI link.
- Retain patent, trademark and other intellectual property rights (including research data).
- Proper attribution and credit for the published work.
The PDWN Trust pledges to maintain a legitimate scholarly record of the author’s work and to defend the author’s article against plagiarism and copyright infringement.
The PDWN Trust is committed to full Open Access publishing. This means that all articles published in STJ will be made freely available online. Authors maintain the right to:
- Share and self-archive their work.
- Make printed copies of their article for educational use.
- Present their article at a meeting or conference and distribute printed copies of the article
- Adapt and expand their published journal article to make it suitable for their thesis or dissertation.
- Republish the article (ensuring that the original article is cited as published in STJ).
By submitting a manuscript for publication in STJ the authors commit themselves to the fulfilment of the following legal and ethical requirements:
- That all authors involved are in agreement regarding the manuscript to be submitted for publication in STJ and allow the designated author to submit the manuscript on their behalf.
- That the contents of the manuscript do not infringe on any rules or regulations of the responsible authorities where the research was carried out.
- That the manuscript has not been published previously, in part or in whole, except as part of a published lecture or academic thesis.
- That the manuscript has not been submitted to any other journal while being considered for publication by STJ.
- That all relevant sources have been appropriately and correctly cited and that credit is given to the work or findings of others wherever it contributed to one’s own findings.
- That all figures, tables, images or large sections of text that have been published previously, is accompanied by written permission from the original copyright owner(s) to reproduce said items in the particular article in STJ. Such written permission must be submitted with the manuscript. Furthermore, all material used under copyright must be credited appropriately in the submitted manuscript.