when theology goes awry

April 19, 2007

You opened up a very sensitive conversation in this comment Kowie. But not to worry, I’m aware that this is extremely relevant in the South African theological environment at the moment. Maybe I should just first make something clear. As I’ve already made clear, I do NOT speak on behalf of the Dutch Reformed Church, the University of Pretoria or Deo Gloria. This is my personal opinion, and nothing more.

Maybe a short history. In 2005 one of the senior students at the faculty of Theology in Pretoria made lay cases against three professors, for apparently not believing in the resurrection anymore. Sadly, he took the stories to the media before it was officially looked into. So you got the situation where the public already decided that these people were guilty, without them reading their work, before their own churches could look into the case. After many months, with a lot of people looking into the cases, they were found “not guilty” (whatever that may mean in this context, but I’ll get back to it).

But the perception remains with the public, and even with people in the church that wasn’t involved with the case, that something is majorly amiss at the University of Pretoria Faculty of Theology. A perception that I believe needs to be corrected.

Maybe I can respond to some of the specific stuff in your comment, which might correct some of the perceptions people have on the faculty:

What is really worrying me is that you as a theology student who one of these days can become my minister / pastor had to go and and read the resurrection by yourself to try and make sense.

It was resurrection Sunday. I read the resurrection narratives as part of my own devotional life. I’m a follower of Christ, and therefor I will always be struggling with the Bible, working on how I should interpret it.

What are you learning?

They teach us to struggle through questions ourselves, that is what a university do. They teach us that even our own lecturers can make mistakes, and that we may differ from them. They try and teach us to approach theology with humility. At least that is how I see it.

What is the viewpoint of the church?

The viewpoint of the church is that adopted in the Apostels Creed, the Nicene Creed and the Creed of Athanasius. Naturally based on the Bible, but as interpreted primarily in these texts. Our interpretation doesn’t stop there though. My interpretation, with which I try to address a few contemporary questions, I wrote here.

Are we really sure that you are studing at a Christian facility and not at a valse prophet / anti – Christ training facility? How can we believe anything that any NG dominee studing under lectors not believing in Jesus, will try to tell us?

My professors believe in Jesus. This is where I will come back to paragraph two. Who is to decide who is guilty and who is not? I never want to be in that position. Who is to decide which is the “correct” belief, or not? I’m not going to make a long argument trying to defend anyone. I respect these people, as academics, and those I know personally also as fellow followers of Christ.

Is it not time that the NG Church must take stock and declare what they believe in? That is the only way to root out the evil – the valse prophets?

The Dutch Reformed Church make a lot of mistakes. Churches tend to make mistakes, maybe it’s because humans run them. But over and over we have declared what we believe in. But we give people freedom to formulate their own unique faith within this church. False prophets is an extremely hard word, and I’m not sure when we are really justifiedof using it.

If you want my viewpoint, I’ll answer. But again, this is just a personal viewpoint. how about checking out the official website of the Dutch Reformed Church. Thanx again for the questions Kowie. Maybe we’ll meet sometime in the near future, then we can talk some more. In the meantime, let’s keep the conversation rolling.

Please join in on the conversation. If you are part of the Dutch Reformed Church, what is your view? Maybe you are part of another church, that also struggles with the same problems, or struggled with them sometime in the past. Please feel free to  share your thoughts.

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5 Responses to “when theology goes awry”

  1. cobus Says:

    Just came upon this post by Dan Kimball, think it might be relevant on this topic.

  2. aventer Says:

    Hmmm… Interesting. This helped a lot thanks Kowie. Appreciate it. There are a lot of main Churches (mainstrean churches) two of which include the Roman Catholic church and the Reformed Churches. Don’t know much, but I do know that the Reformed Churches differ from the Catholic churches. Maybe that says something about what the Dutch Reformed Church believes?


  3. […] developed a lot of appreciation for my lecturers, as you might have realised in yesterday’s post. The university were able to keep up a high standard, in spite of transformations taking place in […]

  4. Kowie Says:

    Cobus,
    Firstly, I think it is great that you are loyal to your faculty, lecturers and church. It was alsonot my intention to attack specific persons or a specific denomination. It is a very general question and comment – pointing to all the Christian churches. I know we can not decide on who is guilty or not – its not our lace to do so, but we also have to ask God to show us false teachings and must spek up against anything that is not specific from the Bible. I am not an anti – New, pro – Old Testament, but I am very much against interpretations. I know that there will also be different interpretations and opinions about part of the Word, but through use and history these interpretations later become doctrine and are sometimes given out as actually part of the Word.
    When listening about some of the interpretations either from the pulpit, in class or even in media – especially when made by eminent members of an Christian Church in their official capacity, I always think about Relevation 22: 18&19.
    I do believe there are False prophets – if Satan can bring difference of opinion inside a congregation / church, denomination, he wins. We just love to differ, why don’t we try to consolidate?
    I hear a beautiful story the other day: a guy was waiting to see the bank manager and while standing there, he notice that one of the ladies was going through notes – R100 notes. She was speaking to him and not looking at the notes whilst going through them. Every now and then she would put one aside. When asking her what she was doing, she replied that she was taking out the false notes. On commenting that she is not even looking, she said – I am so used to working with the true notes, that I immediately notice the false ones”
    The lesson for me is – we do not have to study the false religeon and other religeons to know that God is true, we must study God more and more, then we will know the false teachings without learning it.
    Thanx for your comments and insights – its refreshing and honest.


  5. […] I used the word interpretation in this post, a word obviously open to interpretation. A word I use very easily, while others seem less […]


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