Title page for ETD etd-10302007-092157

Document Type Master's Dissertation
Author Schutte, Johan Leopold
Email johanis@absamail.co.za
URN etd-10302007-092157
Document Title Die ekklesiologiese begrippe "sigbare en onsigbare kerk" in die Drie Formuliere van Enigheid teen die agtergrond van die AP Kerk se kerkbegrip (Afrikaans)
Degree MA (Research in Practical Theology)
Department Practical Theology
Advisor Name Title
Prof J W Hofmeyr Supervisor
  • Heidelberg catechism
  • Belgic confession
  • concept
  • of church
  • Afrikaans Protestant Church
  • confessions
  • visible church
  • invisible church
  • ecclesiology
  • Canons of Dordrecht
  • Three Forms of Unity
  • reformed church polity
Date 2007-04-20
Availability unrestricted

This study concluded that the Three Forms of Unity does not give the same meaning to the word “church” all the way through, since the word is used to describe both the visible and invisible sides of the church. When these different uses of the word “church” are left out of consideration in discussions concerning the church and only one of the two sides of the church is emphasised, it leads to the large degree of confusion and indistiction which these days is experienced in ecclesiastical debates. Before there can be any meaningful progress in these discussions, it is therefore necessary to establish which view of the Bible as well as concept of the church, is being taken as starting point of the discussion.

Reformed academics have already done many studies concerning the Biblical usage of the word “church”. This study has taken the research a step further and shown that the use of the word “church” in the Three Forms of Unity agrees with the Biblical usage of the word. The Bible and the Three Forms of Unity mean, with the word “church”, both sides of the church of Christ. This church is on the one side invisible, seeing that is spans time and place and in doing so is the sum total of all the elect. On the other side, this church is made visible in a defined place and time and bears the stamp of its own time and culture in which it took its shape.

Confusion arises when it is assumed that whatever the Bible and confessions state as indicative of the invisible church is necessarily indicative of the church`s visible side also. This is particularly valid, for example, in the doctrine concerning the attributes and characteristics of the church.

This study has brought the old truths about the church from the Bible and confessions freshly to the fore in a time when very little attention is being paid to them. Yet it is precisely these truths concerning the concept of the church that can bring progress in ecclesiastical discussion. It was further demonstrated that the concept of the church held by the Afrikaans Protestant Churches stands on solid Biblical and confessional grounds.

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