SciELO - Scientific Electronic Library Online

vol.34 issue1 author indexsubject indexarticles search
Home Pagealphabetic serial listing  

Services on Demand



Related links

  • On index processCited by Google
  • On index processSimilars in Google


Studia Historiae Ecclesiasticae

On-line version ISSN 2412-4265
Print version ISSN 1017-0499

Studia Hist. Ecc. vol.34 n.1 Pretoria  2008


To stand where God stands: Reflections on the Confession of Belhar after 25 years



Allan Boesak

Beyers Naudé Centre for Public Theology, University of Stellenbosch, Stellenbosch, South Africa




The Confession of Belhar was first adopted by the synod of the Dutch Reformed Mission Church in 1982, and then formally accepted as a fourth confession in 1986. Since then it has become the bedrock of theological reference and reflection as well as a salient point of theological identity within the Uniting Reformed Church in Southern Africa. It has not escaped controversy, and today has become quite the most visible point of conflagration in the tortuous process of reunification of the Dutch Reformed Church family. Over the past twenty-five years,, the Confession of Belhar has been accepted as the formal confession of a number of churches within the Reformed family world wide, is seriously being studied as an important theological contribution to the thinking of the ecumenical church and significantly informs such documents as the Accra Confession, adopted by the World Alliance of Reformed Churches' General Council in Accra, Ghana, 2004. This article, first presented in a lecture series, offers historical and theological reflections on the confession. It endeavours to show the relevance of the confession in the different contexts into which it came into being and how those contexts are challenged by the confession. It looks at the theological understanding upon which the confession rests, and argues that it remains of great relevance to and theological importance for the churches in South Africa as well as world wide, and is an absolute necessity for the theological integrity of the church unification process.



“Full text available only in PDF format”




Anthony, W 1992. Lessons of struggle: South African internal opposition, 1960-1990. Cape Town: Oxford University Press.         [ Links ]

Barth, K 1938. The knowledge of God and the service of God according to the teaching of the Reformation. London: Hodder & Stoughton.         [ Links ]

Boesak, A 1984 [1977]. Farewell to innocence: A socio-ethical study on Black Theology and Black Power. New York: Orbis.

Boesak, A 2005. The tenderness of conscience: African Renaissance and the spirituality of politics, Stellenbosch: Sun.         [ Links ]

Botha, D P 1982. Church and Kingdom in South Africa, in Serfontein, JHP (ed.), Aparthieid, change and the NG Kerk. Extracts, Annexure M, 260-269, Emmerentia: Taurus.         [ Links ]

Botha, J & Naude, P 1999. Op pad met Belhar: Goeie nuus vir gister, vandag en more, Pretoria: Van Schaik.         [ Links ]

Calvin, J 1536, Institutes of the Christian Religion. (Translated and annotated by Ford Lewis Battles, 1975.) London: Collins.         [ Links ]

Calvin, J. Commentaries on the Twelve Minor Prophets, Vol. 4.         [ Links ]

Eberhard Bethge et al (eds.) 1986-1999. Dietrich Bonhoeffer werke, 17 Volumes. Munich & Gütersloh: Chr. Kaiser and Gütersloher Verlagshaus.         [ Links ]

Loff, C 1983.The history of a heresy, in Villa-Vicencio, C & De Gruchy J W (eds.), Apartheid is a heresy, 10-23. Cape Town: David Philip.         [ Links ]

Magubane, B 1999. African Renaissance in historical perspective, in Malegapuru W M (ed.), African Renaissance: The new struggle. 10-36. Cape Town: Tafelberg & Mafube.         [ Links ]

Seekings, J 2000. The UDF: A history of the United Democratic Front in South Africa, 1983-1991. Cape Town: David Philip.         [ Links ]

Wolterstorff, N 1999. The contours of justice: An ancient call for Shalom, in Barnes Lampman, Lisa (ed.), God and the victim: Theological reflections on evil, victimisation, justice and forgiveness. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans.         [ Links ]

Creative Commons License All the contents of this journal, except where otherwise noted, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License