South Africa Church History

General History of Protestant Churches in the RSA

South African Church history goes back to 1652 when Jan Van Riebeeck set foot in the Cape (Southern tip of Africa). He introduced the reform theology from Holland in to the RSA. Holland in those days were a powerful country and use Cape as a halfway station to the East. The church in Holland, the Dutch Reformed Church (DRC), expected that Van Riebeeck must immediately show converts among the Hottentots. Hottentots an indigenous tribe with a yellow-brownish type of skin colour. A woman of this tribe was baptized but continued with her prostitution. This was the planting of form-religion of pharisaism in the RSA instead of a true gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, In 1795, France conquered Holland. Holland asked England, who had the mightiest fleet at that time, to take over the colony in the Cape. On 16th September 1795 the British took over the Cape. The only positive action deriving from this was that Methodism was introduced.  By now Calvinism was already rooted in hearts of many people.

The Methodist was not yet a well established Church at this time. Secondly, the Dutch people were antagonistic against the English because many of them were not content with the take over. The Anglican Church had more influence than the Methodists in the beginning. Right from the start the Anglicans had the same dead affect on people than the DRC. Various countries ruled the Cape and all of them had different influences. Eventually the RSA became an independent country. There were other religious cults in the Cape as well like: Roman Catholicism, Islam, Christian Science, Mormonism, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Armstrongism, Pentecostalism and many more.

Problems that arose in early Churches in the Cape

Calvinism had a deadly affect on the eternal souls of men. Calvinism does not have a real moral character because some are “ordained for heaven and some others for hell”.  Many, if not most people never seek the Lord for real conversation let alone sanctification. “We all sin daily in words, thought and deed”, “Once saved always saved”, Saved is baptized as baby. Further problems that the church encountered were racism. This happened long before apartheid the whites were materialistic and reserved. Most people in the Churches did not want to do missionary work among the non-whites. The non-whites started their own Churches and their problem was the lack of knowledge. The dominantly white Churches became materialistic and self-centered.  However, there were Godley men in some Churches and some of the mission fields.

There were many ethnic problems in the early times that got worse through the years.  Hottentots, British, Dutch, French, German, Blacks in the East and North. A Further problem was the DRC as a state Church.  This made South Africa a Calvinistic country like Germany and Holland. Methodist never had a positive impact on the RSA. The following decades were characterized by quick changes on the Church scene.  The first big blow to the DRC was the Reformed Church.

When thieves on the Eastern bother plagued the White farmers, they decided to move to the North.  The DRC did not agree with this idea and a new Church was formed that joint the farmers on the “GREAT TREK” The 2nd big trauma that hit the DRC was the coming of Pentecostalism in 1907 – 1910. The “revival” of 1906 – 1910 in 312 Azusa-street in Los Angeles influenced the RSA. After this the Charismatic movement followed. Recently there was another split between the right-wing Politics in the DRC.  This is called the “Afrikaans Protestante Kerk”

The DRC was the state Church from the start till this day. It spread its roots through the RSA as it developed into all possible areas in society. This Church can hardly be called a Church in the New Testament context. The problems of the DRC were not only its Calvinistic foundation, but also its autocratic attitude towards Christians and other denominations. In some cases it is a close resemblance to the Roman Catholic Church in its intolerable attitude towards Christians. The DRC has the biggest influence on the spiritual scene in the RSA.

The Covenant Brothers, Brother Bond or Broederbond.

They are similar to the Freemason group. They are a secret organization in the RSA that infiltrated the DRC. They started to control the top structure of the DRC called the Synod. Because of their political power they helped the Church and vice versa. Because politicians and preachers belonged to the same secret organization they control the schools, the government and media. It was impossible to become a teacher in a white school if you were not a member of the DRC. Because everybody grew up in this environment, everybody thought Calvinism was the true religion. The DRC handbooks was introduced to the schools and taught that all other Churches are “sects”.

Catholicism in the DRC

There is a lot of Roman Catholic doctrine in the DRC. They inherited Augustine’s theology through Calvin and they accept the five points of Calvinism: As Rome they believe they are the Church of Christ on Earth. They believe that sin is cleansed after death but not exactly the same as purgatory. Some believe that death cleanses the last remaining sins. Other believe that the judgment seat of Christ will be a place were Christ will cleanse people from sin. In other words, Christ will purge them with fire! Infant baptism is also Roman Catholic doctrine practiced by the DRC. They believe as Rome, that infants are saved at baptism, receive the Holy Spirit and become part of the Covenant Theology (OT). Apostolic succession is also a prominent doctrine practiced by the DRC. Those that are “ordained” can preach and no layman is to preach or teach in the Church. Most of them confess their sin every Sunday morning in Church and the rest of the week live, as they like.  The DRC are deeply rooted in many other Roman Catholic doctrines.

Bible Translations

The DRC is responsible for a new Afrikaans translation of the Bible 1988. It is similar to the New World Translation of the Jehovah’s Witnesses. In this translation you will find left-wing politics, Arianism (Arius a British Monk who didn’t believe in the Divinity of Christ), Calvinism and many other atrocities. Because the DRC had the monopoly in every sphere, they convinced schools, universities and other reform Churches to accept this “New Age Bible”  The latest translation is a deviled inspired teaching.

Politics in the DRC

The Broederbond had a powerful influence on the DRC. When apartheid was introduced in 1948 when the National Party won the election, the DRC was the political instrument to orchestrate it. They preached it from pulpits and supported the new government openly. Even when the government in 1985 to 1993 came under pressure to abandon apartheid, it was again the Church that did it. Suddenly under great pressure from the outside world they sided with the government to have a one-man-one-vote. The pendulum swung completely to the other side and the DRC even accommodated communists in its midst. Jo Slovo, a member of the KGB spoke in the DRC beneath the hammer and the sickle. The DRC was deeply rooted in leftist politics and quickly turned the whole nation to negotiate with the communists. The result is the communist took over the RSA. It is a clear proof for the evangelical Christians in the RSA that God is punishing this country for all her wickedness. Immediately after the election, the DRC lost it status as the political State Church witch had the monopoly for three hundred years. Many people left the DRC and the Reformed Church searching for the truth and the  Charismatic Churches were the beneficiaries.

Influence on evangelical circles

There are children of God in the DRC, although ignorant about many things, they are born again. In 1944 some decided to leave the DRC and formed the Evangelical Reform Church. They believe in justification by faith and sanctification. It differs from Wesley’s view in some places and is a mixture between Calvinism and Armenianism and can be called Calmenianism. They dropped the 1st four points of Calvinism but kept “Perseverance of the saints.” Similar to some Baptist Churches in the USA. Unfortunately they never completely broke with the doctrine of the DRC. Because of the last point of Calvinism, they are not inclined to seek holiness, because you are “once saved always saved.” Every other little group of Christians that tried to start something new was immediately branded as heretics and called a sect. Although there are Nazarene, Methodist and Wesleyans, these denominations did not realy make their mark in the RSA. One of the reasons was the monopoly of the DRC. The DRC had a very evil and immoral influence on many smaller Churches and groups.

DRC and RSA Universities

The DRC and the Broederbond controlled almost all the theological faculties in universities in the RSA. They extended their influence in only teaching Calvinism in theological faculties. Even all ministers from other denominations like the Nazarene, Wesleyans and Methodists studied Calvinism if they enrolled at any University in the RSA. All the liberalism of Germany and Holland are accumulated in our Universities. This is the main reason why RSA is in such a wicket state.

Freedom of religion USA vs. RSA

The scenario in the RSA and the USA is completely different. When Methodist arrived on the America scene, there was complete freedom of religion. Calvinism was not forced on the American people, different to the RSA. Because of this prosperous situation in the USA, the anointed of God had the opportunity to establish fundamental religion in the USA. In the RSA religious freedom came under the Dutch administrator through J.A. de Mist 1803 – 1806.  The DRC ministers had a far easier task to influence the concept of people in the Cape. When England took over the Cape in 1795 there were only 2 700 soldiers and 1 140 citizens. In 1760 there were already 1 593 625 people in the colonies in America from Ft. Western down to Savannah. We can say with confidence that the turn of the 18th century and the beginning of the 19th century, Calvinism was firmly established in the RSA. While in USA at this stage in Church history, Methodist was widely accepted in America.

Holiness Movement

In the USA, there was an unbroken line of holiness Churches as mentioned. When the mainline Churches became worldly, many new Churches originated. When the Wesleyan Church of America (1843) became Liberal, the Pilgrim Holiness Church started (1897). Out of these Churches grew the Wesleyan Church. The Free Methodist Church (1860) came out of the Methodist Episcopal Church (1844). Later on the Bible Methodist Church started (1948), the Wesleyan Bible Church, Wesleyan Holiness and various other holiness Churches with prominent holiness undertone. Holiness Bible Schools, namely the Union Bible College, God’s Bible School, Hope Sound Bible College, Penn View Bible College, Kansas City Bible College and a few other smaller schools. These schools contributed to the holiness message around the world. Holiness books from publication companies like Schuml and Old Paths Tract Society, helped to feed the Churches and schools. The IHC played a big role in bringing holiness people together because it is interdenominational. Missionary organization like Bible Methodist Missions, Evangelical Bible Missions and Florida Evangelical Association has had a powerful impact around the world on mission fields. All these wonderful things are only possible because of God’s grace.

Martin Gunther


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