Original Research

Kerklike tug: Verleentheid of nuwe geleentheid?

Johan M. van der Merwe, Bianca R. Van Graan
Verbum et Ecclesia | Vol 45, No 1 | a3036 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ve.v45i1.3036 | © 2024 Johan M. van der Merwe, Bianca R. Van Graan | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 25 October 2023 | Published: 10 May 2024

About the author(s)

Johan M. van der Merwe, Department of Systematic and Historical Theology, Faculty of Theology and Religion, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa
Bianca R. Van Graan,, South Africa

Abstract

Church discipline: embarrassment or a new opportunity? In 2004, 2007 and 2011 the General Synod of the Dutch Reformed Church decided that the way in which church discipline functions in the church, should be researched and investigated. This article is based on the doctoral study of the co-author, who tragically died of COVID-19 during the pandemic of 2020-2021. She investigated the development of church discipline in the Dutch Reformed Church from 1652 to the present day, to determine why church discipline has become an embarrassment to the church. This article is based on a part of the outcome of her research. The article discusses the purpose, nature of and need for church discipline, and states that the way in which members of the church understand discipline in the church, should change. The authors emphasise that church discipline must be built on the foundation of brotherly love within the framework of tolerant care. This will not only help to change the understanding of informal and formal church discipline but will also challenge the church to create a safe space for confession, forgiveness, and reconciliation. By doing so, church discipline as tolerant care will become part of the spiritual journey of members of the church. As such, it will change from being an embarrassment to becoming a huge opportunity for spiritual growth.

Intradisciplinary and/or interdisciplinary implications: The article focuses on church discipline as tolerant care. In doing so, church discipline does not only function as part of the study field of Church Polity, but it also incorporates Practical Theology. The most important implication is that discipline is understood as care.


Keywords

Ecclesiastical discipline; Dutch Reformed Church; tolerant care; informal discipline; formal discipline, reconciliation

Sustainable Development Goal

Goal 3: Good health and well-being

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