Original Research

Justice and the Missional Framework Document of the Dutch Reformed Church

Jaco Botha, Dion A. Forster
Verbum et Ecclesia | Vol 38, No 1 | a1665 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ve.v38i1.1665 | © 2017 Jaco Botha, Dion A. Forster | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 23 June 2016 | Published: 13 April 2017

About the author(s)

Jaco Botha, Faculty of Theology, Stellenbosch University; Beyers Naud, South Africa
Dion A. Forster, Faculty of Theology, Stellenbosch University; Beyers Naud, Netherlands


This article engages with the Missional Framework Document of the Dutch Reformed Church (DRC) from the perspectives of solidarity with the poor and justice for South African society. The democratic South Africa continues to face significant socio-economic problems and an increasingly dissatisfied population. In the light of this, the article presents an introductory conversation with the Missional Framework Document in order to ask whether it offers an adequate response to South Africa’s current contextual challenges. The lens through which this article will engage the Framework Document is the theological paradigm of justice, specifically the theory of justice presented by Nicholas Wolterstorff as well as some important contributions from contemporary South African scholars who advocate for a theology from the margins of society. It is contended that the DRC remains a predominantly white middle-class church. This social, economic and political location has an impact on the missional theology of the church as expressed in the Framework Document. Hence, we engage with the Missional Theology of the DRC by means of a paradigm that operates from the ‘underside’ or the economic, political and social ‘margins’ of South African society. We argue that any missional theology aimed at furthering God’s Kingdom in South Africa at present must develop in community with the marginalised majority of the nation. The critical engagement with the Framework Document will be done by sketching a theological landscape where current contextual realities are brought into relief against a kairos moment on which the efficacy of this church’s mission, indeed its public work and witness, is being called into question.

Intradisciplinary and/or interdisciplinary implications: This interdisciplinary study in Systematic Theology and Ethics engages the missional theology found in the Missional Framework Document of the Dutch Reformed Church. Methodologically, the research advocates for a contextual engagement with the missional theology proposed by this important document. The outcome of this contextual theological consideration is an invitation for the Church to consider the ethics of justice as an important aspect of their approach to faithful Christian mission in the South African social, economic and political context.


mission; Dutch Reformed Church; South Africa; justice; ethics; public theology


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