Pieter Coertzen
Image for Pieter Coertzen

Prof. Pieter Coertzen was born on 20 April 1943 in Boksburg, South Africa. He obtained seven degrees: BA (1963), BA Hons (1964) and MA in Philosophy (1970) - all cum laude at the former Pothefstroom University for Christian Higher Education (currently North West University). Meanwhile, he also obtained his Bachelor of Theology (1967), Licentiate in Theology (1968) and Master of Theology in Ecclesiology (1969) - all three cum laude at the University of Stellenbosch. He obtained his doctors degree in Theology (Ecclesiology) in 1976 also at the University of Stellenbosch. At the same time (November 1970 to September 1974) he was the parish minister of the Dutch Reformed Church in Dundee, Natal and from October 1974 until the end of 1976 he was student minister at the Dutch Reformed Church Potchefstroom-North. He was called as Senior Lecturer in Ecclesiology at the Faculty of Theology (University of Stellenbosch) in 1977. In 1988 he became professor and from 1995 to 1997, he was the Dean of the Faculty. During this time the Dutch Reformed Church Franschhoek also called him as associated minister.. Here he served (since 3 September 1995 until 20 April 2008) with Rev. Willie van Zyl, Dr. Johan Spies, Rev. Chris Crause and Rev. Bossie Minnaar. From 1991 to 1999 he was actuarius (Church Law Advisor) of the Dutch Reformed Church in South Africa (Western and Southern Cape) and from 1994 to 2004 the actuarius of the General Synod of the Dutch Reformed Church. Since the early eighties he also served in the the Church Law Committees of the Synod of the Dutch Reformed Church in South Africa (Western and Southern Cape) and of the General Synod. Professor Coertzen retired in April 2004 as a lecturer at the Faculty of Theology, but he was immediately appointed as Extraordinary Professor in Comparative Church Law at the Catholic University of Louvain and at the Faculty of Theology of the University of Stellenbosch. He was (and is) very active as scholar and theologian. The NGTT (of which he has been the editor for years) published 36 of his articles. He has written 14 books and is also co-author or editor of 26 publications. He also wrote numerous articles in other journals, bulletins and journals. His two main book publications are Die Hugenote van Suid-Afrika 1688 – 1988 and Ordelik en Gepas. ‘n Teologiese verantwoording van die Orde vir en in die Kerk. Both works are translated in English. Although he formally retired as teacher, it is definitely not a quiet time for him. In addition to his teaching duties at Stellenbosch and Leuven he was chairman of the Huguenot Memorial Museum in Franschhoek, where major expansions are planned. He was also the Chairman of the organizing committee for the Seminary's 150-year celebrations in 2009 and the editor of the festschrift over the Seminary. He is also the chairman of a committee that that is preparing a Charter of Religious Rights for South Africa for possible adoption by the Parliament. In addition, he continues his research on Religious Freedom and the relationship between Church and State in the light of the Constitution.