As a candidate for the ministry in the DRC, I would like to serve my church, my community and above all the Father, Son and Holy Spirit according to the viewpoint of the Scriptures. Without debating the theological content of this service there are, to my mind, seven fundamental perspectives that no pastor can deny, independent of the situation.
(1) The good news of the Gospel has to be preached to everybody, regardless of sex, race, religion, language or politics. In the words of Jesus, ". . .and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem and in all Judaea and in Samaria and unto the uttermost part of the earth." (Acts 1:86)
(2) The pastor has to be a shepherd for his flock. This implies that he should have an intimate knowledge of his flock as a whole and in detail, guiding and protecting them in the manner of the Caring Shepherd. The pastor has to take the warning of Ezekiel 34:10 seriously. The LORD will execute those shepherds who did not search for the flock and instead of feeding the flock, fed themselves (v.9).
Thus said the Lord God; behold, I am against the shepherds, and I will require my flock at their hand, and cause them to cease from feeding the flock: neither shall the shepherds feed themselves any more; for I will deliver my flock from their mouth, that they may not be meat for them [v.10].
(3) The central religious command (Mt 22:34-40) cannot be compromised. Jesus teaches us the parable of the Good Samaritan: the true neighbour. The crux of this parable is that your neighbour is the one who crosses paths with you here and now (Luke 10:25-37).
(4) The church has to be a caring and sharing community - a community of neighbourly fellowship. This concerns the heart of Biblical koinonia. In a koinonial community there is an intimate relationship between Christ and the community, mutually (Rom. 15:20-27) and between different such communities (2Cor. 8/9). Fellowship with Christ means fellowship with other Christians in a partnership of faith.
(5) The Reformation emphasizes the importance of the Biblical perspectives of Sola Scriptura (only the Scriptures), Sola Gratia (only grace), and Sola Fidel (only faith).
(6) Although we can accept that the early churches differed among themselves in language, culture and liturgical mode, we have no reason to regard these differences as expressions of a principle indicating distinctions among churches of the same denomination into categories such as the so-called mother and daughter churches. It is a basic principle that one should differentiate between unity and diversity and also bear in mind that diversity does not discontinue unity - in unity there is also diversity.
(7) Everything in this creation belongs to God. The church is not the property of mankind. God is the 'sole owner'. It is His Body in which we take part. The central religious community has the task to keep this Body in shape according to God's rules and principles and not that of the communities.
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'At this stage I would like to ask the faith community of the DRC whether not only the pastors, but also the flock, has lived and now lives by the above-mentioned principles for the church of the LORD. If the answer is in the affirmative - why then the continuing controversy surrounding the document 'KERK EN SAMELEWING' (1986 and 1990), in which the DRC condemned Apartheid as sin? What prevents the four different churches in the family of the DRC from becoming one Reformed Church? Have we really an answer for the perspectives raised by the so-called 'Ope brief' (1982) and the Belhar Belydenis (1982)? Can structural difficulties weigh more than Biblical principles?