Studia Historiae Ecclesiasticae
On-line version ISSN 2412-4265
Print version ISSN 1017-0499
OLIVER, Erna. The history of Afrikaans speaking churches in South Africa and the option of ecumenism. Studia Hist. Ecc. [online]. 2011, vol.37, n.1, pp.1-21. ISSN 2412-4265.
Throughout history, and especially after the Reformation, Christians increasingly divided into groups and denominations while all Christians confessed their continued belief in "one church". Using South Africa in general and the ecumenical activities (both past and present) of the traditional Afrikaans speaking churches as source, an evaluation is made regarding the function of words like "ecumenism" and "unity" in the organisational structures and lives of members of these denominations. The firm belief of each denomination that it is the only true church is only one of several red lights flashing, all indicating that ecumenism is used to cover a vast array of malpractices and that unity is defined not in terms of what the Bible prescribes but according to what people want it to mean. Ecumenical relations are formed according to prescribed rules, providing the practice with a false air of legitimacy. Ecumenism provides a human detour around the Biblical commands to make disciples and practise love.