Boer Calvinism

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Boer Calvinism refers to the distinct form of Calvinism that has long been the religion of the overwhelming majority of Boer-Afrikaners and one of the most significant distinctions of their culture.


The Reformed religion in South Africa originated when Jan van Riebeeck, the first white man to settle in Southern Africa, made a covenant with God, that he would spread the Reformed faith in their new country. Boers see themselves as bound to this covenant.

Many spiritual birth of the Boer people is generally cosidered to be their Great Trek, which took place during the first half of the 19th century. Apart from the desire to remain independent from foreign rule, another major reason for this migration, is the Anglicanization of the Dutch Reformed Church in the Cape. In the Covenant of The Battle of Blood River, still observed by Boers, on the 16th of December every year, the Voortrekkers declared their belief in their people's complete dependence on God for their existence.

Two Boer Republics were founded in the 1850s and the Dutch Reformed (Hervormde) Church was the national Church in the South African Republic (1852) and the Orange Free State (1854) was named after the Calvinist House of Orange in the Netherlands. Many Boers were members of the conservative Reformed Churches in South Africa, founded in 1859.

Because the Trekkers were partly isolated from Europe, they remained free from many of the liberal tendencies, which influenced European Calvinism during the 19th century.

Boere-Afrikaner Calvinism Today

While many Boers were members of the Dutch Reformed Church (NG Kerk) in the past, very few have remained as the church has gradually grown more liberal. The same can be said of the Dutch Reformed (Hervormde) Church, although in this denomination, as well as in the Reformed Churches in South Africa, Boers remain a significant minority. Boers now comporomise the overwhelming majority of the members of the Afrikaans Protestant Church and the smaller Afrikaans Reformation Church.

The BCVO ('Movement for Christian-National Education') is a federation of 47 Calvinist private schools, primarily located in the Free State and the Transvaal, committed to educating Boer children from grade 0 through to 12.


In the Dutch Reformed tradition, Boer Calvinists faithfully subscribe to the Three Forms of Unity. Boer Calvinism can be characterized as Orthodox, Conservative and Fundamentalist.


  • Boers faithfully celebrate the Covenant of Blood River on the 16th of December every year.
  • They generally use the 1953-translation of the Afrikaans Bible.
  • They believe every nation have a biblical command to remain separated and protect their own culture, according to God's creation-order. Boer Calvinists strive to protect the Boere-Afrikaner Culture.

See also