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Tydskrif vir Geesteswetenskappe

On-line version ISSN 2224-7912
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STRAUSS, Piet. Frans Lion Cachet and the restoration of the Dutch Reformed Church in the Zuid-Afrikaansche Republic around 1866. Tydskr. geesteswet. [online]. 2019, vol.59, n.4, pp.455-470. ISSN 2224-7912.

In 1865-1866 the then Dutch Reformed ("Gereformeerde") Church ("Nederduitse Gereformeerde Kerk") and the Dutch Reformed ("Hervormde") Church ("Nederduitsch Hervormde Kerk") went their separate ways. The latter became the church of the state of the South African Republic ("Zuid-Afrikaansche Republiek" of 1852-1902) in its Constitution of 1855-1858. The term "hervormd", however, was taken up in article 20 of the Constitution without consulting the two churches. The separation of the two churches occurred at two meetings: at the Commission of the General Assembly of the "Nederduitsch Hervormde Kerk" in June 1865 and at their General Assembly in November of the same year. At these meetings, Rev. Lion Cachet was the spokesperson of the "Nederduitse Gereformeerde Kerk". The outstanding points of difference were the church's name and accepted confessions of faith. Lion Cachet and the "Nederduitse Gereformeerde Kerk" argued that the church itself should be responsible for its name which, in this case, should be the "Nederduitse Gereformeerde Kerk (NG Kerk)". The members of the "Nederduitsch Hervormde Kerk (NH Kerk)" were satisfied with the latter name "bestowed upon their chuch by the ZAR". Two points of difference on the relevant confessions, the Three Formulas of Unity namely the Belgic Confession, the Heidelberg Catechism and Canons of Dordt, were discussed. The chairman of the "Nederduitsch Hervormde Kerk" limited the confessions to article 7 of one of them, the Belgic or Dutch Confession of Faith. These ministers of the "NH Kerk" also refused to sign the Three Formulas of Unity or reformed confessions as based on Scripture. This was unacceptable to Lion Cachet and other delegates of the "Nederduitse Gereformeerde Kerk". The clash between Lion Cachet and his folllowers and the representatives of the "Nederduitsch Hervormde Kerk" was highligthed at the meeting of the Commission of the General Assembly of the "Nederduitsch Hervormde Kerk" in June 1865 in Rustenburg. This meeting introduced the final clash at the General Assembly of the "Nederduitsch Hervormde Kerk" in November 1865 in Pretoria. On the two main issues referred to earlier, the General Assembly refused to accept the viewpoint of Lion Cachet and his supporters, while Lion Cachet could not join a church with the above viewpoints. To him, that constituted a departure from the reformed viewpoint and from the stance of the National Synod of Dordrecht in The Netherlands in 1618-1619 (a well-known reformed synod). The outstanding and direct result of this Synod, according to Lion Cachet, were the acceptance of the Canons of Dordt as a confession with a reformed perspective on election and of the Three Formulas of Unity. Apart from these confessions, the Synod of Dordrecht was also responsible for the well-known church order of Dordt and instrumental in producing the State Translation of the Bible in Dutch in 1637. It proved to be a translation which stimulated Dutch as a written language and which also served as a spiritual guide for the life of reformed people in South Africa in the 1860s. To stabilise the "Nederduitse Gereformeerde Kerk" in the ZAR, Lion Cachet organised a General Assembly of this church in December 1866. It adhered to the name of Dutch Reformed or "Nederduitse Gereformeerde Kerk" and the acceptance of the Three Formulas according to Scripture. Already 8 NG congregations in the ZAR were represented at this meeting. A witness and supporter of Lion Cachet is on record as stating that Lion Cachet was home for only 14 months between January 1866 and January 1869. He travelled a great deal to reorganise the NG Church in the ZAR. The fact that 8 congregations met at the General Assembly of 1866 is proof of his hard work and perseverance from a human point of view. When Lion Cachet left the ZAR for The Netherlands in 1873, apart from the "Nederduitse Gereformeerde Kerk" Utrecht, he also left other congregations without a minister.

Keywords : name of church chosen by church itself; differences on confessions; schism driven by church ministers; the name "hervormd" identified with theological liberalism; Frans Lion Cachet leads the reorganisation of the Dutch Reformed Church in the ZAR in the 1860s.

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