The Native Experiment: the formation of the Bantu Presbyterian Church and the defects of faith transplanted on African soil

Vuyani S Vellem


The missionary institutionalization of the Church of Christ, ipso facto, the formation of
the Bantu Presbyterian Church in South Africa (BPC), is a tale of ambivalence and
original defects of faith in a visible form of a Church. A product of the Scottish
missionary enterprise in South Africa, the BPC is a tale of unequal racist relations
between white and black a tale of naming and practical considerations at the
whims and desires of those who transplanted the gospel in this land. While this paper
presents the history of the BPCs formation, its purpose is illustrative. By the time of its
formation in 1923, two distinct approaches to the gospel were already in existence: a
white, anaemic interpretation of the gospel and a black critical and refusing one. The
paper therefore argues that blackness is not to be found in colonizing and coercing
missionary institutions such as in the formation of the BPC, but in the irruption of a
faith that refused patronage, rejected racial inequality and signification by others.

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