About

DSC03747Welcome to the Naturalchurch blog!

My name is Tobie van der Westhuizen and I am married to an extraordinary woman called Revien. We live in Bloemfontein, South Africa, are parents to nine kids and a Staffie called Mazzy, and belong to a group of wonderful believers who have been meeting regularly in our house (and all kinds of other places) for eight years.

I left formal pastoral ministry in 2007 to pursue an inkling that I have had for a long time, namely that the Christianity of today is not the same as the primitive Christianity of the early church.

Whilst this may sound like an insane generalization, I believe it to be true. I also believe that most contemporary efforts to “restore us” to the so-called golden age of first century Christianity are misguided and mostly undermined by three factors:

  1. Romanticism – The early church was far from homogenous and even further from perfect.
  2. Historic revisionism – The belief that the early church was all about those things that are dear to me and the Christians I fellowship with, such as “signs and wonders,” being radically “missional,” or whatever (Paul was a Calvinist, you know.)
  3. Ecclesiastical amnesia – Two thousand years of church tradition has not only left many of us confused as to which church or denomination is the “correct” one, but has also obscured the heart of New Testament Christianity, namely the way in which the New Testament churches understood salvation and the person of Jesus Christ. This, in my mind, is the central issue.

On this last point: I concluded that it would be very difficult, if not impossible, for people to fully rediscover the early Christians’ understanding of salvation as long they remain clustered in tribe-like denominations shaped around the personas of extraordinary individuals (historic or contemporary, it really does not matter) whom they have elected to interpret God and the Bible on their behalf.

And so I stepped out of the world of institutionalised Christianity. At the time I was in the process of completing a PhD in Theology, a dream that I had been nurturing for more than two decades. But a fresh reading of Jesus’ words at the Feast of Booths changed all of that:

The Jews therefore marveled, saying, “How is it that this man has learning, when he has never studied?” So Jesus answered them, “My teaching is not mine, but his who sent me. If anyone’s will is to do God’s will, he will know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own authority. The one who speaks on his own authority seeks his own glory; but the one who seeks the glory of him who sent him is true, and in him there is no falsehood.(John 7:15-18)

These words convinced me that the path to true spiritual discernment is not to be found in academic studies, but in a simple moment-by-moment desire to know and do God’s will. They also convinced me that the secret to becoming a true teacher of the word was to discard the need for any public ministerial recognition whatsoever, and to divert all attention and accolades to God – to become invisible and to make God exceedingly great. And so I gave up my academic ambitions and discontinued my studies.

I still function as a Bible teacher, but I have made it my aim to distinguish between servant-teaching that seeks to impart the life of God, enabling people to know God independently and without human mediation, and top-down teaching that seeks to connect the hearers to the teacher’s insights and so make them dependent on his/her continual influence in their lives for understanding the things of God.

I am still learning, on a daily basis.

With the above in mind, I spent the last eight years of my life writing and illustrating a commentary on the book of Romans – praying and hoping that it will not merely impart information, but bring the reader face to face with the actual call of Jesus Christ and the meaning of true Christianity as I believe it was understood and practiced by the early churches of the New Testament. It is, God willing, due for public release end 2016/early 2017.

You can see the first fruits of Romans: The Big Picture here.

If you are interested, my testimony is here. And for a biographical sketch of my life, prior to the events described above, here’s a cartoon I drew. See if you can figure it out… (If not, go here)

27 thoughts on “About

  1. Willie van Niekerk December 1, 2010 / 5:31 am

    “The Church has fallen away from the Truth in many ways, many pagan practices resulted in the great apostasy.” To name a few: Sunday keeping, relics, holy days. The Church has been impregnated with the “world-church system” that resembles a Christlike mind, but no Biblical Truth exists, merely a moral consciousness. The depth of the Truth is not present, and I trust that more will experience the quest for discovering significant Bible truth.

  2. Amazing Bible April 12, 2011 / 7:57 pm

    Hello Tobie,

    Even Jesus said this Mat 7:13 Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide [is] the gate, and broad [is] the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat.

    We would like to exchange links with you would you please contact us?

    Please also read our urgent message at:

    amazingbible.org/blog1.html

    Jesus is coming soon, be ready!

  3. Henning October 24, 2011 / 9:39 pm

    Hey Dude, skryf ek nou op die regte plek? Ek het vandag eers jou enigste Afrikaanse stukkie oor die girl in die formalien gelees. Jy beter iets doen om voltyds sulke goed te skryf voordat jy in diep moeilikheid by die Koning is.

  4. naturalchurch October 25, 2011 / 5:40 am

    Dankie vir die bemoediging. Ek begeer niks meer as om presies dit te doen nie!

  5. revienwest November 3, 2011 / 5:21 pm

    Henning, ek stem saam met jou!

  6. dylancromhout November 10, 2011 / 9:10 am

    Tobie

    I have noticed that you do not have a “subscribe via email” widget in your widget area. Although I have followed you via wordpress, it would be nice to be notified of posts via email, which that widget facilitates. It is a default widget and easy to install and I am sure that if you install it, others who are not members of wordpress would also appreciate this option.

    Kind regards

    Dylan

  7. Gideon November 15, 2011 / 10:07 am

    Hi Tobie, I see you are from Bloem! I would like to meet you. We are are part of an group that is starting of as organic church.
    My email address: lootsgideon@gmail.com
    Please contact me🙂

  8. Peter Newman October 16, 2012 / 4:44 pm

    Hi Tobie,

    I read with interest some of your blog postings. My wife and I were saved over forty years ago and have been involved in a number of house churches during that time. I thought you might also be interested in our website http://www.ChristCrucified.info which I hope encourages and strengthens your faith in Christ.

    In Christ’s love,
    Peter Newman

    • naturalchurch October 17, 2012 / 12:28 pm

      Hi Peter,

      Thanks for the comment and visit to the blog. Your website is an absolute blessing and I will certainly visit it again. Some of your topics remind me of Norman Grubb’s writings. (I love his teaching on the 2 natures!). The need today is for an emphasis on the cross as Paul preached it, so thank you for your faithfulness. May the Lord bless your (his) work richly.

  9. Ken le Roux February 5, 2013 / 5:15 am

    Hello Tobie,

    Looking for your email address,
    Ken le Roux
    kenlrx@gmail.com

  10. brywieb May 8, 2013 / 2:27 pm

    Tobie, I really enjoy your blog and creativity. what a poignant expression Father has seeded into you! Keep after it and keep your peace!

    • naturalchurch May 21, 2013 / 7:08 am

      Thanks for the comment and visit. I checked out your blog and would love to spend some more time there. There’s much that I resonate with.

  11. JACO tRUTER September 12, 2014 / 8:52 am

    Hi Tobie, great finding your blogspot (through Josh Lawsons ), seems weve been influenced by many of the same people.
    I would be very interested to know who you consider the author of Hebrews to be, and your reasons ?
    Cheers,
    Jaco.

  12. naturalchurch September 12, 2014 / 10:07 am

    Hi Jaco. Thanks for the comment. And yes, I committed myself to writing a post on the authorship of Hebrews. So I’lll get cracking. If I reveal my suspicions in this regard without all the supporting evidence it’ll be somewhat of a senseless conclusion and a real spoiler. So I will refrain. But I’m hoping to publish the whole thing soon.

  13. JACO tRUTER September 15, 2014 / 8:57 am

    Hi Tobie, I cant wait…… !

  14. JACO tRUTER September 17, 2014 / 6:24 am

    Morning Tobie, I know I should rather wait, but cant…..do you think the author is the apostle John??Just yah or nay, and I will wait for your article !!(I promise ) LOL, Kind Regards, Jaco.

  15. naturalchurch September 17, 2014 / 2:26 pm

    Hi Jaco. Seems that you have also been pondering this issue🙂 But no, John is not the one I have in mind. I think the words in 2:3 “It was declared at first by the Lord, and it was attested to us by those who heard…” make him an unlikely candidate, especially when compared to his own words in 1 John 1:1-3.

  16. JACO tRUTER September 29, 2014 / 8:28 am

    Hi Tobie,You are quite correct there,the author appears to be (Hebrews2:3-4) a “2nd generation believer “, and not one of the original 12. Why I hazarded this guess was because of currently looking at the Johannine word “monogenes ” for only=begotten, which apart from Johns writings , only appears once in Hebrews relating to Isaac..
    I promise to now be very patient and wait for your article !

  17. JACO tRUTER August 4, 2015 / 11:34 am

    hey Tobie..when are we going to see that article about Hebrews ???
    Jaco.

    • naturalchurch August 6, 2015 / 6:17 am

      Hi Jaco – the article ended up becoming a book (which has progressed nicely, btw), but then a writing contract of a different nature (with a looming deadline) came my way – and so Hebrews is temporarily back on ice. But I am anxious to finish it, believe me!

  18. Phil Walters September 24, 2016 / 4:36 am

    Tobie, I would like to reprint your article “How do I find the true church/” in the Australian Oikos Magazine. If I can get your email address I can send you a PDF of the magazine. Bless you, Phillip Walters http://www.oikos.org.au

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s