Constitution or church order? : a church judicial analysis of the church documents in the Reformed Church of East Africa

Ekitala, Luka Ariko (2018-03)

Thesis (PhD)--Stellenbosch University, 2018.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: The Reformed Church of East Africa (RCEA) was founded by the Dutch Reformed Church in 1944. The RCEA however deviates in its church governance from Reformed/Presbyterian church polity principles ordinarily embraced by Reformed churches across the globe. The church judicial development of the RCEA has been influenced on the one hand by the mission agencies for example the Dutch Reformed missionaries as well as the Reformed Mission League and on the other hand by the Presbyterian Church of East Africa (PCEA). The researcher assessed the Constitution of the RCEA in this dissertation against the Reformed/Presbyterian church polity principles (see Chapter 3 and 5). The research tries to determine to what extent the Constitution of the RCEA is grounded in reformed church polity principles, namely: a)Self-government under the sole headship of Christ, b)The limited autonomy of the local congregation, c)The denominational ties serve the well -being of the Church, d)The restricted power and responsibilities of ecclesial assemblies, e)The necessity and nature of Christian discipline, f)Right of appeal, g)The power of the major assemblies with regard to misconduct. Three phases of the church judicial developments of the RCEA can be discern, namely i.Dependency to “mother church” 1905-1963, ii.RCEA as semi-autonomous church 1963-1991, iii.RCEA move towards self-governance 1982-1992. The researcher proposes in the dissertation amendments based on Reformed/Presbyterian church polity principles, as well as provision being made of in reformed church orders from different contexts inter alia the Church Order of Dordt (1619), the church order of the Protestant Church in the Netherlands (PCN), the church order of the Uniting Reformed Church in Southern Africa (URCSA) as well as the church order of the Dutch Reformed Church (DRC) which the RCEA might take into account when the denomination embark on the drafting of a new church order. The researcher concluded at the end of the dissertation that the RCEA should make provisions in the envisaged church order regarding: The ordination of women, The authority and responsibilities of the ecclesial assemblies, The confessional basis of the RCEA, The necessity and nature of Christian discipline and the right to appeal.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Gedurende 1944 het die Nederduits Gereformeerde Kerk die Reformed Church of East Africa (RCEA) gestig. Kerkregtelik wyk die RCEA van die Gereformeerde / Presbiteriaanse kerkregbeginsels af wat gewoonlik met Gereformeerde kerke dwarsdeur die wêreld geassosieer word. Die kerkgeregtelike ontwikkeling van die RCEA word aan die een kant deur die sendelinge van die Nederduits Gereformeerde Kerk asook die Gereformeerde Sendingbond beïnvloed en aan die anderkant word dit deur die Presbyterian Church of East Africa (PCEA) beïnvloed. Die Grondwet van die RCEA word in hierdie verhandeling teen die beginsels van Gereformeerde / Presbiteriaanse kerkreg geëvalueer (vergelyk hoofstukke 3 en 5). Die navorsing poog vas te stel in welke mate die Grondwet van die RCEA op die volgende gereformeerde kerkregtelike beginsels geskoei is al dan nie, naamlik: a) Selfregering onder die hoofskap van Christus, b) Die beperkte outonomie van die plaaslike gemeente, c) Die kerkverband dien die welsyn van die Kerk, d) Die beperkte gesag en verantwoordelikhede van kerklike gemeentes, e) Die noodsaaklikheid en aard van Christelike dissipline, f) Die appèlreg, g) Die mag van die meerdere vergaderings met betrekking tot wangedrag. Die kerkregtelike ontwikkeling van die RCEA kan in drie fases onderskei word, naamlik a) Die afhanklikheid aan "moederkerk" 1905-1963, b) Die RCEA as semi-outonome kerk 1963-1991, c) Op weg na selfbestuur 1982-1992. Die navorser maak in die verhandeling voorstelle, geskoei op Gereformeerde kerkregbeginsels asook op kerkordes van gereformeerde kerke uit verskillende kontekste onder andere die kerkorde van Dordt (1619), die kerkorde van die Protestantse Kerk in Nederland (PKN), die kerkorde van die Verenigende Gereformeerde Kerk in Suider Afrika (VGKSA) asook die kerkorde van die Nederduits Gereformeerde Kerk (NGK), wat die RCEA in ag kan neem wanneer die denominasie hul nuwe kerkorde opstel. Die navorser konkludeer aan die einde van die dissertasie dat die RCEA behoort in die beoogde kerkorde voorsiening te maak vir bepalinge wat betrekking het op: Die ordening van vroue, Die gesag en verantwoordelikhede van gemeentes, Die belydenisbasis van die RCEA, Die noodsaaklikheid en aard van Christelike dissipline en die reg om te appelleer.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/103580
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