It is by now common knowledge that a number of concerned members of the NG Kerk (the Dutch Reformed Church) have organised themselves into the so-called “Evangelic Initiative” (Evangeliese Inisiatief – EI) in protest against what they regard to be a softening by the NG Kerk on essential beliefs:
- That the Bible is the ever prevailing Word of God (read “inerrant”);
- That the miracles performed by Jesus is an essential part of the Gospel (read “Almighty Creator”; belief in creation was admitted by leading EI member Louw Alberts);
- That Jesus Christ was born as a human through the action of the Holy Spirit (read “Immaculate Conception”);
- That Jesus Christ effected an expiatory sacrifice upon the cross whereby man were forever reconciled with God (read “Original Sin”);
- That Jesus physically rose from the dead and ascended to heaven (read “Ineffable Twaddle”);
- That the Gospel of the Risen Christ will affect the lives of people in a missionary way through the Holy Spirit, to renew and to change lives in order to proclaim the Gospel of Hope to the 21st century world…
I am not even remotely surprised by this ever inevitable development. The NG Kerk is in a terrible fix.
Dr James Kirkpatrick, convener of the standing commission for dogma in the NG Kerk, claimed, on Afrikaans radio (RSG) that a galling, impudent professor Adrio König (my adjectives) of the EI need not organise a “Gospel Festival” as the NG Kerk was celebrating the Gospel every week during the erediens (worship hour).
Kirkpatrick made it abundantly clear that the core beliefs, as promoted by the EI, are not at odds with the Gereformeerde Belydenis (Reformed Creed).
König is absolutely correct in ascertaining that a number of ordained theologians and pastors of the NG Kerk do not, in fact, subscribe to traditional teachings on, for example, the conception and resurrection of Christ. This much is abundantly clear. Yet if it were not for the probing insights of such academics and thinkers, the NG Kerk would already have been banished to the dumpster of has-been irrelevancy.
Commentator Philip du Toit of the website Truth Exposed proposes that the EI is a consequence of the Mulder case (theology student Ferdi Muller accused University of Pretoria professors Dirk Human, Jurie le Roux en Julian Müller of “onskrifsinnigheid” – untranslatable, but indicative of teachings Mephistophelean; the academics were cleared) and the distribution of a DVD on the influence of “liberal theology” in South Africa, and particularly at the University of Pretoria. It appears, continues Du Toit, that there is a noble effort among certain individuals in the NG Kerk to restore the power and truth of the Gospel in the NG Kerk.
Allow me a measure of mirth, if you please.
Not unlike poor Rowan Williams of Her Majesty’s God desk, the NG Kerk has to (no, it does not have to; it elects to attempt to) balance “diversity” among leaders, clergy and members… I suspect, at risk of supreme cynicism, for economic reasons more than theological ones. But, alas, this diversity is a Gordian knot; the balancing act a Sisyphusian effort that will come to nothing.
The EI has already referred to the influence of the Nuwe Hervormers (New Reformers) and is justified in its fear that the acknowledgement of leading South African Bible Scientists of the fallacy of “Original Sin” has the inevitable consequence of imploding the entire Christian construct: No “Original Sin”; no “Virgin Birth”; no “Expiatory Death”; no “Resurrection”; no “Ascension”; no “Second Advent”; no “Eternal Life”… and for good measure, Darwin got it right; Moses and the tales of his ancestors were wrong, not simply wrong, but ludicrously implausible, to annex a well-known phrase.
It has been game over for some time already. But, as the Synod never even got to confess at Boksburg, on the Ministry of… “Riddance” (Bediening van Bevryding), the victory of Christ, however real and final, is not necessarily yet visible. Perhaps the complete and utter ruin of the fallacy of “redemption” is not yet visible either. And it may well remain invisible for as long as church leaders can manage to keep ordinary people in absolute darkness.
What a disgrace religion has become!
If the NG Kerk and the Evangeliese Inisiatief are not at odds, as AKLAS Convener James Kirkpatrick (“Oop Gesprek”, RSG, July 29) and Assessor Nelus Niemandt (“NG inisiatief begin om verwardes te help”. Rapport, July 29) claims in the media, does it follow that the NG Kerk rejects evolution and subscribes to the myth of creation? Does it follow that the NG Kerk subscribes to a literal, physical resurrection and ascension of Christ? Would it be asking too much for Kirkpatrick and Niemandt to clear up this “ligte misverstandjie“?