Boekresensie: Neither Calendar nor Clock: Perspectives on the Belhar Confession, by Piet J. Naude


Sien die volgende boekresensie oor ‘n boek wat die Belhar-belydenis en (bevrydings)teologie bevorder, met erkenning aan die bron: Standard Bearer, vol.87, issue 21 (15 Sept 2011).

 Neither Calendar nor Clock: Perspectives on the Belhar Confession, by Piet J. Naude. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2010. 255 pages. $25.00. Soft cover. ISBN9780802862594. Reviewed by Mark H. Hoeksema.

This book deals with a subject unfamiliar to most of us in the Protestant Reformed Churches. Its setting is in South Africa, located on the other side of the world from us, and in a theological context that few understand. More specifically, its subject matter concerns the issue of apartheid, the centuries-long discrimination against native Africans both by the civil authorities and by the church, which was historically Dutch. The mention of apartheid, as well as of the Dutch (Afrikaans) colonization and domination of South Africa, may help to refresh the memories both of those who are old enough to remember the struggle against apartheid, and of those who have studied history in school. The addition of the name Nelson Mandela will serve to clarify the historical setting of this book, and will also shed light on the author’s perspective.

Piet J. Naude is professor of ethics and director of the Business School at Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. The book purports to be the only up-to-date English-language book on the Belhar Confession, which it probably is. The book also describes itself as showing how this brief (five articles) African confession “powerfully articulates the gospel for the universal church today.”

It does no such thing, for several reasons.

First, its origin and authorship are not universal. It was drafted under the auspices of the Dutch Reformed Mission Church, and was accepted by its synod in 1982 in a place called Belhar. Hence its name. This narrow beginning stands in sharp contrast to a confession such as the Canons of Dordrecht, the origins of which involved representatives from many Reformation churches.

Second, the issue addressed by the Belhar Confession is at best regional, although Naude is at great pains in his commentary to make it a matter of universal social justice. This does not change the fact that the issue is apartheid, which has very little relevance to the church universal.

Third, the acceptance of Belhar is anything but universal, as the author himself admits. The Uniting Reformed Church in South Africa has adopted it, as well as a Protestant denomination in Belgium. The Reformed Church in America (RCA) has adopted it provisionally. Perhaps this is due, at least in part, to the fact that apartheid effectively no longer exists, so that this confession is no longer necessary.

Fourth, this confession does not articulate the gospel, at least not the gospel of the Scriptures. As explicated by Naude, it does a pretty fair job of describing the social gospel. The author writes in terms of “restorative justice” and “economic justice”; he promotes feminism and acceptance of those with AIDS; and he argues that the visible church needs to adopt this confession.

The first part of the book contains the confession, with commentary by the author. The rest of the book is nothing else than an apologetic for the validity and acceptance of Belhar. It is interesting to note that Naude quite convincingly grounds the theology of the confession in Abraham Kuyper’s common grace. He also relies heavily on the writings of Karl Barth, obscure and convoluted as they are. I am reminded here of a comment made by my late grandfather, Herman Hoeksema, to the effect that he was not sure if Barth himself understood his own writing. How true!

For those who are interested in learning more about South African history and obtaining a clearer picture of an unfamiliar church and its theology, there is value in reading this book. Naude does a creditable and well-documented job of defending and promoting Belhar from a very liberal perspective.

However, in general the book is of little value to those who hold to the true Reformed faith because of its wide divergence from the biblical content of the gospel. Not recommended.

Tot hier die resensie.

Die boek volg die logiese stap wat een van die opstellers, Allan Boesak, ook al reeds geneem het:

Boesak was also instrumental in drafting the 1986 Belhar Confession, which I welcomed at the time as an important confessional statement about race relationships. He now appeals to that document in support of his advocacy for gay-lesbian ordination.”

Dit bevestig ‘n resent van die PC(USA) oor Naude se boek:

“Amid an extended discussion on Belhar’s implications for full gender equality, Naudé makes his only reference to an issue that has been on the front burner for the PC(USA), saying almost offhandly that Belhar calls for full and just “peace among different genders and, for that matter, among gay and straight Christians.” For being such a provocateur, we can only give thanks for Piet Naudé and this superb book.”

Dit is dan ook nie verbasend dat die boek die “Andrew Murray Prize Fund, Andrew Murray-Desmond Tutu Prize (2011)” gewen het nie (soos dit seker ook geen verrassing sou wees as Mein Kampf al die boekpryse in Nazi-Duitsland gewen het nie en Karl Marx se Communist Manifesto ‘n topverkoper in Marxistiese USSR was nie). Die tweede naam van hierdie boekprys sê alles van die boek en Belhar se teologiese wortels. Dit is verbasend dat die prysnaam (soos baie plekname in die land) nog nie na die nuwe SA en nuwe SA kerke se twee grootste politieke en kerklike profete en redders verander is nie, nl. “The Allan Boesak-Desmond Tutu Prize” nie ?  Wie weet, dalk is die boek ook opgedra aan hierdie twee marxistiese liberale bevrydingsprofete en helde ?

Nog ‘n resent skryf oor Naude se boek:

“This book is a powerful testimony to a ‘humanizing Christian theology’ — a witness to God and an ethical challenge to us all.”

Inderdaad !  Humanisme (onder die dekmantel van ‘christelike teologie’) is die nuwe godsdiens van die nuwe SA en die ‘nuwe SA teologie’.

Ek het reeds oor die Belhar belydenis geskryf en na bronne verwys, maar in vandag se wêreld sê prentjies dalk meer.  So hier is ‘n prentjie wat wys wat die biskop se nuwe SA teologiese pryse en nuwe SA bevrydingsteologie vir die ware kerk van Christus werd is:

Sien hier vir meer oor die Belhar belydenis

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