To all my English friends, I am delighted to let you know that the reformed Baptist journal Reformation Today has just published an English review article of my Afrikaans book: "Opgestaan" (Resurrection) by Dr Gert M Augustyn that is available for free on their website. To read the whole article click here: http://www.reformation-today.org/issues/articles/Opgestaan_Review.pdf
I think Dr Augustyn captured the heart of the book very well. Here is a short excerpt:
The Man and the Story: “Opgestaan”
Onto the scene in 2001, for the six years theological training (BTh four years, MDiv two years), at the Theological Faculty, University of Pretoria (also called “Tukkies”, and by far the largest of the three), came a student, full of passion to be equipped with theological knowledge and skills for ministry. Frederik S. Mulder (also called Ferdie) comes from Afrikaner parentage on both sides, with missionaries and reformed ministers from both Dutch and Scottish descent in his lineage. He ended up being barred by the DRC from entering the ministry in his final year of study, as well as being banned by Tukkies from any further theological study, after completing his MTh in Biblical Studies in 2006, following disciplinary hearings. In 2011 his 368 page book Opgestaan (in English Risen or Resurrected) is published, with subtitle “Students’ struggle for faith at Tukkies in the years 2001–2006”, in which he reflects on how and why his expulsion came about. Mulder finished the book shortly after completing a M.A. in Biblical Studies at Durham University, United Kingdom, and before starting as Ph.D. candidate in New Testament at Nijmegen, the Netherlands in 2010.
In the Preface (xi-xix), dated February 2010, Mulder gives us the outline of his story. One of the professors whose teachings drove Mulder and other senior students to formulate a “Status Confessionis” in June 2005, Julian Müller, published in 2006 an account of his interpretation of the resurrection with the title Opstanding (in English Resurrection). He wrote the book to vent his protest against what he regarded as a growing stream of fundamentalist belief in the “bodily” resurrection and “empty tomb” of Christ, and which had challenged him in the preceding years. Following Müller’s book, with the encouragement of DRC members, ministers and also anonymous senior professors, Mulder eventually became convinced to describe in as nuanced a way as possible, the story of how he (and some other students) lived through it, and to express his concern about what he saw as a theological river swelling in the DRC, whereby Enlightenment worldviews were welcomed uncritically to the extent of causing substantial skepticism about central Christian claims such as Jesus’ bodily resurrection and the testimony of the empty tomb.
By means of Mulder's story, those wishing to become familiar with personae, plots and positions in recent Afrikaans Protestant theology in South Africa can find their guide. In the first half, in a narrative-based style, he carefully sketches the build-up to the “Declaration” that caused all the trouble. Amongst other incidents, he refers to the influence of a book, published in 2000 by prominent DRC theologian Dr Ben du Toit, as an indicator of the left-wing theological current (8-23). Du Toit advocates a post-modern faith, cleansed of what he sees as old-world mythological baggage. Controversially, Du Toit was appointed to the position of chairman of the church’s doctrinal committee, formulating new doctrinal recommendations for the General Synod to consider every four years. Mulder tells how students' unease with being presented with these so-called “new” truths as legitimate and in accordance with the gospel were brushed aside consistently by the workings of the official church machine and faculty. Also important, he makes clear that students' concerns had nothing to do with uneasiness about things like social justice, honest wrestling with and thorough engagement with the plethora of developments in critical biblical scholarship, as well as fresh and cutting edge research, which should be standard practise at universities and seminaries. Mulder and some of his friends were involved in mercy projects in a black “township” and white orphanage at the time, and, significantly, achieved distinctions for their bachelor degrees, showing their diligence and desire to make a difference on ground level as well as taking critical scholarship seriously. Their main problem was that some ordained DRC scholars, in their teaching and public pronouncements, went far beyond the heart of the confessional identity and boundaries upon which the DRC confessions are built – and which all DRC professors and ministers promised to uphold in an ordination ceremony. In the mix of troubling teaching was enthusiasm for the historical Jesus book Fatherless in Galilee by the Hervormde Kerk, New Testament scholar, Andries van Aarde (member of the American Jesus Seminar and personal friend of John Dominic Crossan), and in particular Jurie le Roux, a DRC Old Testament professor's boundless support and appreciation for it, as well as Le Roux’s ruthless focus on classical nineteenth-century historical-critical work and Enlightenment worldviews. Mulder reports on a controversial public meeting about the New Reformation (sister organisation of the American Jesus Seminar) where Le Roux stated that his support of Van Aarde’s Fatherless in Galilee should be seen as an indication that the resurrection of Jesus does not have to be taken literally any longer. In another unfortunate incident in 2004, Le Roux lost his temper during a lecture for undergraduate students and called Scripture “the fraud of people” (Afrikaans: “die gekonkel van mense”) (36-38).
i) the church board, under the chairmanship of Dr Kobus Gerber’s extended and consistent inability or unwillingness to deal with oral and written complaints with regards to Christ’s uniqueness and bodily resurrection,
ii) The church board’s refusal of further conversation with senior students about pressing doctrinal concerns in March 2005,
iii) Five left-wing students, under the leadership of Cobus van Wyngaard, an undergraduate student, who went to the secular media in June 2005 giving their unequivocal support to all the DRC professors, denying any serious doctrinal problems, and significantly also
iv) Professor Julian Müller, DRC Head of Department in Practical Theology’s unwillingness to confess the bodily resurrection of Jesus when asked about it during a June 2005 national radio broadcast.
All of these events eventually contributed to the declaration which were signed by some forty-six students, and distributed at the faculty and in the church (61-68). The declaration’s heading reads:
“We believe that Jesus Christ rose from the dead historically-literally and bodily”.
In the paragraph that follows, Mulder explained those interpretations they disagreed with:
“We want to differ from views that take the resurrection of Jesus to be non-historical, non-literal and non-bodily. Such theories hold amongst other things that Jesus' resurrection is possibly figurative, metaphoric, non-literal, mythological, symbolic, a pre-modern worldview expression, and that the resurrection does not matter historically” (88-89).
Mulder is very candid about the shortcomings of the declaration, the naïve way in which he went about constructing and publishing it, and acknowledges his technical errors of process and procedure along the way. For example, nine of the forty-six students whose names appeared on the declaration did not read the declaration first-hand, they were phoned, and the document's first edition was redactionally fine-tuned following recommendations made by an anonymous DRC professor. Before any disciplinary hearings proceeded (see below), Mulder offered his apology to students for technical errors.
This declaration caused a threatening response by the DRC governing body who oversees theological training for students. The threat was initially in the form of a mobile phone sms (text) sent by Dr Flip du Toit to students’ phones whose names appeared on the declaration stating: “Note taken of signing of Declaration (Ferdie). Possible legal action can follow. Contact me urgently...” [English translation]. Within a few days, and following a formal threatening letter from the church board, all except Mulder revoked their support for it. One student, Riaan Rossouw rejoined it again later following unsatisfactory talks with church officials, but he resigned from the DRC shortly after ordination (91–103).