Belhar Confession Historical Context by Jack Rogers

The Dutch Reformed Churches in South Africa traditionally had Three Standards of Unity: The Belgic Confession (1561), The Heidelberg Catechism (1563) and The Canons of Dort (1618-1619). In their original European context these documents asserted that Protestant Christians were not anarchists, but were good citizens, willing to obey the government of the land.

These confessions from the 16th and 17th centuries were used in the 19th and 20th centuries in South Africa to justify obedience to a government that imposed strict separation of the races and domination by members of the white race. The system was called by its Afrikaans name, “Apartheid.”

The Confession of Belhar was written as a protest against a heretical theological stance by the white Dutch Reformed Church that used the Bible and the Confessions to justify the harsh and unjust system of Apartheid.