||There is a possibility that in practising (church)history writing, certain perceptions about
both the past as whole, as well as specific events in the past may be absorbed without
evaluating them in the light of primary sources. Britz 7 shows that conscious and
unconscious characterizations play a too significant role in South African
(church)historiography to be ignored. These characterizational representations do not rest
on what can be inferred from primary historical documents.
A perception found in Dutch Reformed Church historiography – especially evident in
discussions about the South African church development during the 19 th century –
concerning the South African Baptists, is that the Baptist Church has had a negative
influence on the South African ecclesiastical landscape. This perception can be found in
the writings of Hanekom, Kotzé and Van der Watt. This study shows that this perception
is not based on the study of primary sources.
For the purpose of this study, an examination was made of 19 th century Cape Dutch
ecclesiastical magazines.8 These magazines were examined as ecclesiastical documents
which both in their nature and their readership, could provide an analysis of the influence
which Baptist circles had on the Cape Dutch Church, whether positive or negative. These
sources do not only give a good impression of the historical framework within which this
research was done, but also of the theological framework with which the Cape Dutch
Church identified herself during that time.
Two keywords are used in these magazines to report on the (South African) Baptists:
"Anabaptists" and "Baptizers." Although the magazines hold that both of these groups had their origin in the 16 th century Radical Reformation, and that both these groups reject
infant baptism, a clear distinction is made between them.
The "Anabaptists" were consistently portrayed negatively while the "Baptizers" were
highly esteemed. The South African Baptists were reckoned under the "Baptizers." The
official magazine of the Dutch Reformed Church, De Gereformeerde Kerkbode, even
petitioned that the South African Baptists ("Baptizers") not be confused with the
Finally, it will be shown that Hanekom and Kotzé did not take this positive evaluation of
the (South African) Baptists into consideration. Furthermore, Van der Watt took their
conclusions over almost verbatim. In this manner a perception arose which was, in all
likelihood, based on theological considerations, without proper consideration of primary