HTS Teologiese Studies/Theological Studies (May 2021)

What are the consequences of sola scriptura for a Reformed polity? With reference to the Dutch Reformed Church Order of 1962

  • Pieter J. Strauss

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 77, no. 4
pp. e1 – e10


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In the 16th century, after the so-called Dark Middle Ages, the Reformation in the church in Western Europe aimed at reforming the church with consequences for society. Regarding the church itself, the Reformation aimed at bringing the total service of the church under the Word of God as its norma normans or norm of the norms. This is also true for the governing of the church and church polity. In the tradition of church polity and order that followed the thought of reformers, such as Bucer and Calvin, in the history of, specifically, the Dutch Reformed Church (DRC), scholars and churches came to the conclusion that the principle of sola scriptura means that Scripture provides the principles or norms for a church polity. This does not mean that every article in a church order should indicate the text of the Bible on which it is based. Rather, a church order should – at least – be based on principles derived from the Scripture or norms from outside the Scripture in harmony with the Bible. Contribution: The governing of the church cannot be isolated from society or, for example, from the generally accepted norms for natural justice. The Church order of the DRC of 1962 is an example of a reformed church order.