Retief Müller

Retief Müller


  • BA and BD (Theology) University of Pretoria, South Africa
  • Th.M. (History and Doctrine) Columbia Theological Seminary, Decatur, GA
  • PhD (History and Ecumenics) Princeton Theological Semianry, Princeton, NJ

Academic interests

I am Director of the Nagel Institute for the Study of World Christianity. Prior to coming to Calvin in 2019, I was Associate Professor of Church History at Stellenbosch University in South Africa. I have a PhD from Princeton Theological Seminary in Mission, Ecumenics, and History of Religion (2008), and have written on various aspects of Christianity in southern and central Africa, including the monograph African Pilgrimage: Ritual Travel in South Africa’s Christianity of Zion (Ashgate, 2011), and several research articles and book chapters in the intervening years. I am interested in the connections between nationalism, religion, the history of the Protestant missionary movement, and indigenous movements in World Christianity, among other things. I taught for several years in South Korea, including as Assistant Professor of Christian Studies at Keimyung University in Daegu (2009-2011). I am currently working on a monograph, The Scots Afrikaners: identity politics and intertwined religious cultures in 19th-20th century southern and central Africa (under contract with Edinburgh University Press). Ordained in the Dutch Reformed Church of South Africa I have served as pastor at congregations in South Korea and South Africa.


Other selected publications:

  • “The (non-)translatability of the Holy Trinity”, HTS Teologiese Studies/Theological Studies(2019) 75(1), a5405.
  • “The Dutch Reformed Church, Mission Enthusiasts, and Push and Pull of Empire”, Studia Historiae Ecclesiasticae (2019) 45(1)
  • “The Hermeneutics of Contemplation’ and World Christianity”, co-authored with Helgard Pretorius, Journal of Word Christianity (2019) 9(1) 89-102.
  • “African indigenous Christianity of Pentecostal type in South Africa in the 20th century and beyond: another reformation?” Theology Today (2018) 75(3) 318-329.
  • “War, Exilic Pilgrimage, and Mission: South Africa’s Dutch Reformed Church in the early 20th century”, Studies in World Christianity 1 (2018): 66-81
  • “British Imperial Wars and the Strengthening of the Dutch Reformed Church’s Mission: Mashonaland in the late 19th to early 20th Centuries”, Studia Historiae Ecclesiasticae 3 (2017)
  • “Evangelical Nationalism in Apartheid South Africa: Beyers Naudé Reconsidered”, Journal of Church and State (2017) csx001,
  • “Mission and Colonialism: Afrikaners in turn of the century British Southern and Central Africa (1890s-1910s)”, Social Sciences and Missions 30 (2017): 254-278
  • “Constructing Separatism in South Africa’s racially charged religiosity: 20th century Afrikaner Discourses on African Initiated Christianity” Religion Compass(2017);11:e12231. 
  • “Afrikaner Missionaries and the Slippery Slope of Praying for Rain: the late 19th to early 20th centuries in Southern and Central Africa” Exchange 46 (2017): 29-45
  • "Afrikaner Reformed missionary enthusiasts and the Voortrekkers: With special reference to Dingaansdag / Geloftedag and also the 1938 Eeufees", Studia Historiae Ecclesiasticae (2015) 41(3).
  • “Sacralisation and the Colonial-Indigenous Encounter in Southern African Christian History: the Memory and Legacy of Johannes du Plessis as Case Study,” Studia Historiae Ecclesiasticae (2015) 41(2)
  • “Beyers Naudé (1915-2004): Christianity, violence, and reconciliation in South Africa” Theology Today (2015) 72(3) 299–311
  • “Incarnation Theology versus the Sacralisation of Authority,” HTS Teologiese Studies/Theological Studies (2015) 71(3), Art. #2707, 9 pages.
  • “Early Afrikaner Missionaries and the Central African Natural Ecology: a history of ambiguous interactions” Toronto Journal of Theology, 31.1 (2015): 39-54
  • “The Zion Christian Church and Global Christianity: negotiating a tightrope between localisation and globalisation,” Religion (2015), DOI: 10.1080/0048721X.2014.992111
  • “War and ‘Racial Feeling’ in the Writings of an Afrikaner Missionary” Studia Historiae Ecclesiasticae 40,2 (2014): 71-84.
  • “Afrikaner Socio-Theological Discourse in the early 20TH Century: war and mission in J. F. Naudé and J. du Plessis,” Historia 59,2 (2014): 309-325
  • “Understanding Christianity in the history of African religion: an engagement of theological and anthropological perspectives in the pursuit of interdisciplinary dialogue,” Verbum et Ecclesia (2014) 35(2), Art. #874, 9 pages.
  • “The ‘indigenizing’ and ‘pilgrim’ principles of Andrew F. Walls reassessed from a South African perspective,” Theology Today3 (2013): 311-322.
  • “Evangelicalism and Racial Exclusivism in Afrikaner History: an ambiguous relationship,” Journal of Reformed Theology2 (2013): 204-232.
  • “Rain and Water Symbolism in Southern Africa: Continuity and Change,” co-authored with Frans Kruger, Exchange 42 (2013): 141-154;
  • “Historiography and cross-cultural research into African Indigenous Christianity (AIC): a challenge to human dignity,” Studies in World Christianity1 (2013): 5-24;
  • “Inner Interreligious Dialogue in Global Christianity – a Consideration of Case Studies from Korea and Southern Africa,” Nederduitse Gereformeerde Teologiese Tydskrif, 52, jan. (2012).
  • “Christianity and globalisation: An alternative ethical response”, HTS Teologiese Studies/Theological Studies67(3) 2011, Art. #963, 7 pages. doi:10.4102/hts.v67i3.963
  • “Rain Rituals and Hybridity in Southern Africa,” Verbum et Ecclesia 3 (2008): 819-831.
  • “War, Religion, and White Supremacy in Comparative Perspective: South Africa and the American South,” Verbum et Ecclesia 25.1 (2004): 193-216.

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