These two books are closely related. They are both concerned with the struggle against apartheid in South Africa by non-whites in the church there. But for that very reason the stand taken last year by the Christian Reformed Church, the Reformed Churches of the Netherlands (GKN), and the Reformed Ecumenical Synod declaring apartheid to be heresy is also involved. If you want to understand something of these matters and just what it is that the CRC, the GRN, and the RES are supporting and approving, then you should read these books.
In the fall of 1982 the Dutch Reformed Mission Church in South Africa, what is called a “colored” church in distinction from a black church or a white church, declared that the situation confronting the churches in South Africa with respect to apartheid constituted a status confessionis, a condition in which the very truth of the gospel is at stake. In this connection they drafted a confession of faith with respect to the apartheid question, a confession which sets the DRMC apart from its “mother” church, the Dutch Reformed Church of South Africa. The first of these books contains the text of that draft confession, as well as nine essays examining the historical precedent, background, theological meaning, and practical consequences of this action.
But be warned that what you will find in this book and in this confession is the social gospel undisguised; maybe today you would call it “liberation theology.” Here is a sample, from Article 4: “We believe that God has revealed Himself as the one Who wishes to bring about justice and true peace among men; that in a world full of injustice and enmity He is in a special way the God of the destitute, the poor, and the wronged and that He calls His Church to follow Him in this; that He brings justice to the oppressed and gives bread to the hungry; that He frees the prisoner and restores sight to the blind; that He supports the downtrodden, protects the stranger, helps orphans and widows, and blocks the path of the ungodly; that for Him pure and undefiled religion is to visit the orphans and the widows in their suffering; that He wishes to teach His people to do what is good and to seek the right; that the Church must therefore stand by people in any form of suffering and need, which implies, among other things, that the Church must witness against and strive against any form of injustice, so that justice may roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream; that the Church as the possession of God must stand where He stands, namely against injustice and with the wronged; that in following Christ the Church must witness against all the powerful and privileged who selfishly seek their own interests and thus control and harm others.”
The second book purports to be a book of sermons by Allan Boesak, president of the World Alliance of Reformed Churches and darling of the World Council of Churches (this book was first published by the WCC, which should be a sufficient negative recommendation!). They are not really sermons, but propaganda speeches in the nature of a takeoff from various texts and with a religious crusade character. I have never heard Boesak speak or preach, but when I read these messages, I am reminded of Martin Luther King, Jr., both as to the content of the messages and as to the admitted charisma of which they give evidence.
I close with an editorial note which really goes beyond the scope of a book review. If this is what the CRC and the RES believe, as in the light of last year’s decisions it is fair to believe, then why not be honest and join the World Council of Churches? This would also be a final solution for the RES of their perennial and perplexing problem of World Council membership; the RES could disband!