Neo-Calvinism and Ethnic Churches in Multiethnic Contexts

In: Journal of Reformed Theology


Despite neo-Calvinism’s thorny historic relationship with apartheid, this article retrieves from neo-Calvinism to contribute to the contemporary evangelical conversation about ethnic and multiethnic churches. Scholars of various disciplines have commonly accepted a link between neo-Calvinism and South Africa’s apartheid. Meanwhile, neo-Calvinists labor to sever this link, wishing to disentangle their tradition from apartheid’s evils, such as the enforcement of racially segregated churches. In reaction to the evils of such segregation, many contemporary Evangelicals have advocated for multiethnic churches that demographically reflect their ethnically diverse communities on the basis of Christian unity. This has implicitly and explicitly challenged the legitimacy of ethnic churches. This article contends that despite the link between neo-Calvinism and apartheid, and despite neo-Calvinist efforts to sever this link, neo-Calvinism offers good biblical and theological support for the establishment of ethnic churches in multiethnic contexts without at all denigrating multiethnic churches or falling into the evils of apartheid.