Die roeping van Suid-Afrikaanse owerhede binne 'n grondwetlike demokrasie in die lig van artikel 36 van die Nederlandse Geloofsbelydenis
Muller, Daniel Francois
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Reformed Christians utilise article 36 of the Belgic Confession (BC) to state the Godly calling of civil authorities. This confession may however be in conflict with the South African constitution. According to article 36 authorities have, in accordance with the keeping of order, a duty concerning the removal of false religion. The constitution guarantees everyone in South Africa freedom of religion. This study thus investigates the following stated problem: To what does God call South-African authorities within the constitutional democracy in the light of art. 36 and how can they fulfil this calling? The investigation has been undertaken in line with the argument that the principals of art. 36 are not only Biblical but should also still be used as a starting point to identify the calling of South African authorities concerning the keeping of order as well as the protection of the ministry of the Holy Word and the Christian life according to this Word. The following three investigations were then launched: * A dogmahistorical and theological-ethical investigation Chapter 2 focuses on the context in which the BC originated. It was drafted to convince Roman Catholic minded authorities to stop persecuting Reformed Christians as they - in contrast with some revolutionary Anabaptists - wanted to obey the government. Reformed Christians wanted to live according to the Word (which requires obedience to the authorities). If the authorities protected the ministry of the Word, peace and order would be promoted. Chapter 3 explains art. 36. This explanation is complicated by the fact that the article has been changed over time. In certain instances it has been interpreted to mean that God, in light of the close bond between church and state at that time, calls civil authorities to persecute heretics even with force. The article however actually calls authorities to protect the ministry of the Word and so doing support the removal of heresy. The article takes a narrow view of the true form of the true religion. * A constitutional investigation Chapter 4 describes the South African constitutional democracy as well as its origin and indicates what (sometimes unrecognised) role the Reformed tradition played in forging constitutional democracy. Subsequently the fundamental values and forthcoming stipulations concerning the freedom of conscience and religion are highlighted. Although authorities do not - in a juridical sense - contend with what would be the true form of the true religion, this study has found the constitutional values and forthcoming stipulations broadly agree with Biblical principles. Yet South African authorities interpret these values and stipulations in accordance with secularist / humanistic beliefs. * A contextual investigation This final chapter investigates how well the current constitutional framework enables (chapter 4) South African authorities to fulfil the calling (chapter 2 and 3).The final conclusion is that this framework does indeed enable these authorities to fulfil the calling by recognising, protecting and expanding the fundamental values, freedoms and rights which have been constitutionally entrenched in order that every one has the space and opportunity to utilise these rights and freedoms to live according to the gospel of Jesus Christ in all spheres of life This task undoubtedly includes that the authorities should protect the ministry of the Word by pertinently ensuring that churches have the opportunity to minister the Word to everyone. It has been found that authorities should preferably take up the attitude of the active plural option towards religion as this option is most suitable for fulfilling their calling.
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