The Church in South Africa needs to wake up to the reality of “a number of challenges on ethical issues that are coming your way — from secular society and from within your own church,” said Dutch Reformed Church pastor Dr Chris van Wyk to a group of church leaders in Port Elizabeth today.
BREAKING NEWS: Gateway News has just learned that late on Friday afternoon Dr Van Wyk received an email from the SAHRC informing him that it is withdrawing its case against him
Van Wyk, pastor of Summerstrand DRC and a former senior national leader of the denomination, was speaking ahead of an important meeting the next day, with the Eastern Cape office of the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) who opened a hate speech case against him arising out of a response he made in 2018 to a published statement by DRC moderator Dr Nelis Janse van Rensburg that all sexual orientations are a gift from God.
The gathering attended by about 25 church leaders at Word of Faith (WOF) Christian Centre was called by WOF senior pastor Jimmy Crompton to express solidarity with Van Wyk in his resolve to stand up for biblical values, and to consider a response to perceived mounting legal attacks on Christian values in South Africa.
Van Wyk said that he was reported to the SAHRC after he wrote in an article that if you accept that all sexual orientatons are from God then you will logically have to accept all orientations, including, for instance, paedophilia, which is described in psychological journals as a sexual orientation. He said that at his meeting with SAHRC representatives scheduled for Friday October 9 he would learn whether they accepted or rejected his latest submission sent to them at their request. Possible outcomes were that the charges against him would be withdrawn, the matter would go to mediation, or he would have to appear in the PE Magistrate’s Court acting as an Equality Court.
Reflecting on his own experiences of facing ethical challenges, he said division in the church over ethical issues makes it difficult to defend biblical values. Speaking for the DRC, he said that the root of such division was the ascendancy of liberal theologians who undermined the authority of Scripture.
“The problem also is that it can start in a small way. In our church it started in 2004 with accepting there are differences in how we view same-sex marriage. Then a discussion started with some people saying the devil is a reality and some saying he is not and we were told to accept that people differ on this. And then we had different views on the resurrection of Jesus. So, you can be in church and have different views and the result of all this is that at the end you don’t have a basis to decide on ethical issues.”
Van Wyk said that in a divided church proponents of a biblical worldview are open for legal attack when secular society can show that they discriminate against Constitutional rights while another section of the church do not discriminate against the Constitution.
He urged church leaders to make sure that they clearly and explicitly addressed their position on ethical issues in their church constitutions and that they required every one of their members to adhere to their official position.
He also urged churches to prepare for ethical challeges by brushing up on their apologetics — not only by being clear on biblical facts and statements but also by being creative and sensitive in how they engaged with people and encouraged them to become seekers “because we have got to understand the felt need of people to speak to them from the Bible”.
Quoting from a book, Fool’s Talk: Recovering the Art of Christian Persuasion, by Os Guinness, which he recommended as an apologetics resource, he said we should use “cross talk” and not clever talk when talking to people. We should commit to cross talk and cross living, accepting persecution as normal for Christ followers and accepting that we might be delivered like Daniel and his friends in the Bible, or we might land up in jail if God wants us to witness there as happened with the apostle Paul.
WOF pastor Advocate Richard Crompton warned that the prevailing narrative in secular society, which was driven by liberal media was becoming increasingly hostile towards the Church. He said the Constitution was also potentially hostile to Christian beliefs and PEPUDA — hate speech laws that go further that the Constitution — is “totally hostile” and has the support of the main political parties.
“We cant keep voting for parties whose plan is to keep on persecuting the Church,” he said.
He said: “No pastor has been taken to court yet for saying what he believes but I don’t think that is far away.”
Pastor Jimmy Crompton said God had put it into his heart that if Van Wyk has to go to court to face hate speech charges: “Lets pack the court. Let’s get 50 leaders in there and lets bend heads and pray silently and bring the atmosphere of God into that courtroom. And I want 100 people in the passage and they can pray out loud.
” Our biggest problem is disunity. Let the courts and the media see the Church standing together. If you attack my brother, you attack me. The Bible says when one weeps we should weep with them, when they rejoice we should rejoice with them.”