Denominationalism is a concept that the church became used to. Very few people question the concept and simply accept it as part of the make-up of the universal church. More recently, and specifically with the advent of postmodernism, many people started questioning whether God’s will for the church is for it to function within the boundaries of denominations. The natural question to ask then is whether the concept of denominationalism is still relevant within the postmodern context. At the same time very direct and pertinent questions along the same lines have been asked of the Baptist Union of Southern Africa, specifically as to its relevance as a denomination. To obtain answers with respect to these questions seems simple enough at face value, but it is not really possible to address the relevance of denominationalism in the postmodern era without a thorough understanding of where the church came from and how the concepts of denominations developed over the centuries. Similarly, one cannot ignore the philosophical outlook of the world and how that played a part in the formation of the thousands of denominations we have today. The study finds that denominations, and specifically the Baptist Union of Southern Africa, have a purpose and are indeed relevant in the postmodern era. Any denomination has two distinct functions that it must fulfil in order to justify its existence: A pragmatic or functional purpose and a custodian purpose. These purposes remain constant, regardless of the era in which the church functions. Most denominations fulfil the functional role very well. This includes pooling resources enabling it to achieve more together than what individual congregations can achieve on their own. The custodian function is fulfilled less admirably. The church, and denominations in particular, are custodians of Biblical truth. This truth is to be disseminated to members of the denomination in a responsible, yet effective and efficient manner. The issue at hand is that the postmodern mind rejects the possibility to attain any kind of absolute truth. It is in this environment that denominations have a particularly important role to play. The Baptist Union of Southern Africa is ideally placed to fulfil both the functional and custodian functions, largely due to the way in which it is structured. However, the Union also has many weaknesses that need to be addressed so that the truth of the Gospel may be proclaimed in a responsible, yet efficient manner to a world that denies the very concept of truth. This makes the task particularly difficult and denominations have to consider how they will adapt in order to meet these challenges.
Dissertation (MA(Theol))--University of Pretoria, 2012.