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Can justice be embodied in sexist language? A challenge to the Confession of Belhar – C Landman

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NGTT DEEL 47 NOMMERS 1 & 2 MAART & JUNIE 2006

This article poses the question why the Confession of Belhar was not written in inclusive language, since it was accepted at the 1986 synod of the Dutch Reformed Mission Church, which succeeded the 1982 synod where women were restored to the office of minister. It argues that the concept of justice is presented at an advanced level in the Confession of Belhar; however, it is regrettable that in this confession justice is embodied in sexist language. The article suggests certain changes in the language of the Confession of Belhar in order to include women. Furthermore, it explores possible ways in which a confession with healthy insights into justice, such as the Confession of Belhar, can enhance the political and social wellbeing of women by reflecting the interconnectedness of people in its use of inclusive language.

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Barmen and Belhar in conversation – a German perspective – W Krötke

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NGTT DEEL 47 NOMMERS 1 & 2 MAART & JUNIE 2006

This article is a discussion of the relationship between the Barmen Theological Declaration and the Confession of Belhar. It is done from the vantage point of the 2001 statement by the Theological Commission of the Union of Evangelical Churches in Germany on the Confession of Belhar from the perspective of the Barmen Theological Declaration. In the first part of the article comments are made on points highlighted in the statement that pertain to the similarities and differences between the two documents, regarding their formal structures, their use of Scripture, and their rejections of objectionable theologies and ideologies. In the second half of the article the comparison is continued, but from the vantage point of each of the five theses of the Confession of Belhar. In this way issues are identified which in future need to be clarified in dialogue on the meaning and importance these documents for the church today.

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Historical overview of the Barmen Theological Declaration of 1934 – W Krötke

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NGTT DEEL 47 NOMMERS 1 & 2 MAART & JUNIE 2006

This article places the Barmen Theological Declaration against the backdrop of nationalist socialist rule and the way it was supported by the so-called “faith movement” of the “German Christians”. Reference is also made to the resistance to it by the “Confessing Church.” The fact that the six theses of Barmen (as “Protestant truths”) follow the style of a reformatory confession is reiterated, but it is also argued that confessions always need to be tested in the light of Scripture, hence the need for the church of Jesus Christ, as church in the world, to go “with Barmen and beyond Barmen.” The article also refers to the interpretation history of the phrase “the one Word of God” in the famous first thesis of Barmen. In the last section four cursory remarks are made about the possible enduring implications of the Barmen Declaration. It is emphasised that freedom serves as a keyword in the Declaration, expressing the special profile of the church of Jesus Christ.

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Belhar. A transforming and dignifying tradition? – N Koopman

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Theological Society of South Africa – Annual meeting – 2010

This paper discusses the transformative and dignifying potential of the so-called Belhar tradition. It is argued that the Belhar tradition is a contextual and contemporary expression of the broader Christian and more specific Refonned tradition as articulated by, amongst others, John Calvin and Karl Barth. Tradition does not transform in itself. The God to whom its practices, narratives, symbols and communities refer, transforms individuals, churches and societies. The Belhar tradition transfonns individuals and societies into lives of dignity. This dignity is constituted by unity in proximity and hybridity, just reconciliation and reconciliatory justice. The Belhar tradition alerts believers to practices of remembering the vision of dignity, and of courageous self-criticism and public criticism where the vision of dignity is not actualised.

Barmen to Belhar: A contemporary confessing journey – HR Botman

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NGTT DEEL 47 NOMMERS 1 & 2 MAART & JUNIE 2006

The Barmen Declaration (1934) and the Confession of Belhar (1986) have played formative roles in the making and unmaking of ecclesial and political life in Germany and South Africa. Their continuing relevance as contemporary confessions has been seen in the many studies conducted on them internationally and in the fact that churches in other countries have decided to include them in their confessional heritage. This paper pays tribute to these two landmark confessions. I start with a narrative of the emergence of the idea that apartheid is a heresy. This is followed by a discussion of the relationship between Barmen and Belhar. Thereafter, I turn to the question of why the white Dutch Reformed Church cannot yet accept the Confession of Belhar. In conclusion I share some views on the future relevance of the Confession of Belhar

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The history of Belhar – JC Adonis

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NGTT DEEL 47 NOMMERS 1 & 2 MAART & JUNIE 2006

This article tells the story of the Confession of Belhar. It traces its origin and describes the events that lead up to the confession. In this regard reference is made to the important role played by students, various church leaders, church communities and church meetings. The way in which the apartheid policy in South Africa constituted a status confessionis for the churches is also described. Furthermore, the article chronicles the development of the concept-confession and the final acceptance of the Confession of Belhar in 1986. The story of the Confession of Belhar is also placed within the context of the broader challenge of church unity and unification. The last section outlines the current status of the Confession of Belhar within the family of Dutch Reformed Churches. Throughout the article there is an emphasis on the fact that Belhar challenges Christians and churches to live out that which they believe and confess.

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Belydenis, kerkverband en Belhar – PJ Strauss

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NGTT DEEL 46 NOMMERS 3 & 4 SEPTEMBER & DESEMBER 2005

This article departs from the viewpoint that the Dordt reformed tradition regards confessions as documents of agreement in the forming of a denomination between congregations. It identifies four requirements for formulas to be confessions: it should be scriptural, it should formulate key issues of faith, it should not repeat what has already been said in existing confessions and it should enjoy a broader ecumenical approval. Confessions can only have authority on the issues they speak on if it is formulated according to the Bible. The author applies these findings to the South African born Confession of Belhar (1986) and concludes that it can not stand up to every requirement.

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Die Missionêre waarde van die Belhar Belydenis vir die NG Kerk – JM de Beer

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Instrument tot inheemswording (opsomming van Ph D 2008)

Die Belhar Belydenis was sedert sy ontstaan in 1982 ‘n omstrede dokument in die NG Kerkfamilie.  Na die Kerkbode-debat in 1998, is Belhar al hoe meer gesien as ‘n struikelblok in die weg van eenwording.  Denke oor die Belydenis het gepolariseer tussen diegene wat dit aanvaar as konfessie teenoor diegene wat dit nie aanvaar nie.  Besware wat teen die Belydenis ingebring is, het te make met sy ontstaansgeskiedenis, sy status as konfessie en inhoudelike besware.  Die negatiewe persepsies oor die Belhar Belydenis is diep gewortel.

Eksegeties-teologiese ondersteuning van die Belydenis van Belhar – JNM Hartney

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NGTT Vol 52, Uitgawe1 & 2, Mar / Jun 2011

In die NGTT (Deel 46, nommers 3 & 4, September en Desember 2005) was daar ’n artikel deur prof. Piet Strauss van die Fakulteit Teologie, Universiteit van die Vrystaat. In die artikel bied hy redes aan waarom die Belydenis van Belhar nie as ’n vierde belydenisskrif aanvaar behoort te word nie. Van die redes is dat die Belydenis nie oor “kernwaarhede van die Bybel” handel nie, maar slegs oor “periferiese morele waardes”. Met hierdie bydrae probeer die skrywer om moontlike Skriftuurlike bewyse wat ten grondslag van die Belydenis van Belhar lê te identifiseer en te analiseer. Die Belydenis van Belhar is rondom drie (Bybelse) begrippe gestruktureer, naamlik eenheid, versoening en geregtigheid. Hierdie bydrae stel ondersoek in na die eksegeties- teologiese betekenis van hierdie begrippe.

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Kerkbegrip, Belydenis en Kerkorde in die Kerkherenigingproses van die NG Kerkfamilie in Suid-Afrika – HJ Kleynhans

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Opsomming (D Th 2009)

Die Here wil dat Sy kerk op aarde één moet wees soos Hy Een is “sodat die wêreld kan glo” (Joh 1723) – ter wille van die geloofwaardigheid en die effektiwiteit van die Evangelieverkondiging en van sy getuienis. Hierdie eenheid is allereers ‘n geestelike geloofseenheid, maar is óók ‘n sigbare eenheid in die institusionalisering van Sy kerk wat met ander kerke in verband tree op grond van gemeenskaplike geloofsbelydenis en in die hooftrekke van kerkinrigting en – regering.