Christian Reformed Church in South Africa

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Christian Reformed Church in South Africa
Classification Protestant
Theology Reformed Calvinist
Polity Presbyterian
Leader Rev IB Weber[1]
Associations World Reformed Fellowship, Evangelical Alliance of South Africa
Founder Dirk de Vos
Origin April 28, 1944
Durban, South Africa
Separated from Dutch Reformed Church in South Africa
Separations Evangelical Reformed Church in South Africa
Congregations 32
Members Unknown

Christian Reformed Church in South Africa is a confessional Reformed Presbyterian denomination in South Africa.

Origin[edit]

It is a pity that the church, which Christ established as an institute on earth, became so depraved throughout the course of the centuries that it had to be broken away from to found a new church. Various types of churches originated during the reformation: the Lutheran, the Calvinist and the Anabaptists, as they were called. These churches were established in the distinctive European countries. From the Netherlands the Reformed Church or also the Reformed [Hervormde] Church, as they were alternately called, were established in South Africa. Locally it developed into the three big reformed churches or the ‘sister churches’, as they are also known, namely the Dutch Reformed Church, the Dutch Reformed [Hervormde] Church and the Reformed church. The CRC originated from the first of these three. When we discuss the history of the CRC, we do it with a measure of sadness, but also a measure of gratefulness. Firstly, we are sad that church schism had to take place at all, because the Lord rightly prayed for unity among His followers. If we look back to that generation that found it necessary to break away, we also notice mistakes and misunderstandings. It humbles us and makes us dependent on God’s forgiveness. Yet we are grateful because we still see the hand of the Lord in all the events. There was without a doubt a working of the Spirit of the Lord involved: at the revival that broke out, at the founding of the church, and throughout the years to this day. The details are as follows: Many of the events surrounding the origin of the CRC had to do with Dr DJ de Vos. It is therefore necessary that we briefly look at his life and work. Dr de Vos was a person with a strong will and absolute commitment to God. At school, he excelled both academically and in sport. He received a pious upbringing from his parents and the Lord called him to be in full-time ministry. He studied at the University of Stellenbosch, followed by a successful ministry as minister in the DR Church. During that time, he was an energetic worker in the synods and commissions of the church, popular as speaker, committed to his congregations and a good student. He completed two doctoral theses among other things. Already from his first day at the seminary, Dr de Vos was disappointed by the worldly attitude and lack of spiritual quality of the students there. He became convinced that many who ascended the pulpit were in fact unqualified to lead people on a road of true fellowship with God, because their own lives did not bear witness of it. He was convinced that his church was lacking in various areas: a lack of clear evangelical preaching; by not mentioning specific sin and not summoning members to a holy lifestyle; by blatantly allowing the unsaved and disinterested into the congregation, to avail themselves of the sacraments, and so forth. Against these deficiencies, he zealously expressed himself. Although he acutely experienced these shortcomings, there was no question of him wanting to leave his church. In 1940, Dr de Vos was called to Durban to serve in the mother congregation there as co-minister. Spiritually and financially spoken, the situation was quite bad as proven by the minutes of that period. From a total of 10 000 souls, less than a hundred attended services regularly and financially, the congregation was close to bankruptcy. Dr de Vos presented the series of services during Pentecost. On May 10 1940, a huge revival broke out in the congregation and the city was literally set astir. Evening after evening, the church was crammed and hundreds of people became converted. Members of other congregations and churches started to come and thus the revival spread all over the city. Everywhere in Durban, in homes, in shops, on buses people prayed, sang and witnessed. Daily, people committed their lives to God and were added to the congregation. The attendance at the worship services multiplied by ten and the debts of the congregation were paid. Unfortunately, not everyone was happy with the development of things. The church condemned all the events un-reformed and un-Calvinistic. Ministers rallied against it and Dr de Vos began to experience resistance. He was convinced though that that was precisely what his church needed, and did not want to divert from the course on which he believed the Lord placed him. They experienced the overwhelming blessing of the Lord. These events continued up until 1944. Early in 1944, a petition was presented against Dr de Vos, which the local circuit investigated [in March]. They could not find any charge against him though, but he was accused of self-glorification and was asked to resign. He did not want to do that. After that, he experienced much resistance in commissions and church meetings, but legally, no proof could be furnished against him or his ministry. His doctrine was pure, the attendance very good, the finances extraordinary and the church council [sixty of the seventy members] supported him. On April 12, he was again, without any charge, asked to resign. Because there were no legal grounds, he refused. He was nevertheless suspended, without a hearing, at the same meeting. Most of the congregational and church council members were upset when they learned about it and they insisted that it was invalid and that Dr de Vos would remain as their minister. On Sunday, April 16, the moderator himself turned up to take matters in hand at the church, but 39 against five church council members voted that Dr de Vos instead of him should proceed in conducting the services. The following day all 39 were suspended. The following Friday, April 21, there would have been a church council meeting, conducted by the moderator in order to investigate the matter. At this stage, the tension about what would happen ran high throughout the congregation. Hundreds of people, mostly hostile, crowded outside the church. The question on everyone’s mind was: Who would conduct the meeting? When seven o’clock arrived, and the moderator remained sitting, the tension became too much for Dr de Vos. He stood and said, ‘Brothers, those who are with me, let us leave the meeting’. At that, fifty church council members rose to their feet and left the room with him. With only fifteen left behind, there was not a quorum with which to continue the planned meeting. With huge distress and many tears, they decided the same evening to proceed with the founding of a new church. [2]

On the 28th of April 1944, a new church was founded with great emotion and tears. Dr de Vos’ health was too weak at that time for him to conduct the meeting himself, and his two brothers, both also DR Church ministers, conducted the events. It was decided to be a church in the real sense of the word; not to become sectarian; not to break with the historical past, but to remain within the spirit of the Reformation. The name of the church would be the New Protestant Church. That is not the end of the story. The new church expanded fast. Quite a number of congregations were founded and ministers were appointed. During the course of time, Dr de Vos, who acted as moderator, sensed though that things were not developing as he anticipated. According to him as reformed theologian, some practices gravitated towards the sectarian, and upset him. Regarding aspects of salvation and perseverance, sanctification, healing, the second coming and so forth, he disagreed with the majority of the new church. He felt that matters developed too fast and that he could not direct the course anymore. After he pronounced himself against it for some time, also as editor of the church newspaper, an open conflict followed and he left with a minority of ministers and congregations that felt like he did. On May 10, 1949, he founded a church for the second time, which was called the Reformed Dutch Reformed Church. With that, he relived his initial ideal of a pure church, free from sectarianism. On May 10, 1983, the name of the church, which was lengthy and confusing, was changed to the Christian Reformed Church. The New Protestant Church in the meantime also changed their name to the Evangelical Reformed Church. We praise the Lord that He kept His hand on these events, in the midst of the sadness and grief that accompanied the schism, even in the midst of that which did not please and honour Him. May He enable us, now that we are here, to be church to His honour! [3] A denominational member of World Reformed Fellowship.[4] The moderator is Rev. Sakkie Weber, the Vice Moderator is Rev. Johnnie Tromp.[5]

Doctrine[edit]

Education[edit]

Demographics[edit]

The denomination is present in 6 South African Provinces, these are:

  • Eastern Cape Province (3 churches)
  • Free State (1 church)
  • Guateng (8 church)
  • Kwazulu Natal (4 church)
  • Mpumalanga (1 church)
  • Western Cape (5 church)

Approximately 32 churches belong to the Christian Reformed Church in South Africa[7]

Interchurch organisations[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]