Andrew Murray Prize


On May 9, 1978, the community of Wellington celebrated the 150th anniversary of the birth of Dr. Andrew Murray in an appropriate manner. Andrew Murray served as the minister of the Dutch Reformed Church in Wellington from 1871 to 1917.

He also distinguished himself as a prolific writer of Christian books, with approximately 250 works flowing from his pen. Many of them have been translated into various languages and are still widely distributed and read around the world today.

During the festivities, the idea for the establishment of an award to honor outstanding Christian publications emerged from Dr. Frits Gaum, then the executive director of Bybelkor. This award was to bear the name of Andrew Murray to acknowledge the significant influence Murray had as a writer and religious figure in South Africa and the world.

The groundwork for the establishment of the Andrew Murray Prize Fund was carried out by the Wamakersvalleise Kultuurraad, of which Dr. Gaum was the chairman. Numerous institutions were approached to participate in the establishment of the Prize Fund, with each participating institution contributing an entry fee of R2,200 to the Fund. The inaugural meeting was held on Thursday, November 29, 1979, in the council chamber of the Huguenot College in Wellington.


The following persons attended the first meeting of the Governing Board as founding members:

  • Mr Timo Crous (Christelike Uitgewersmaatskappy; F&R Crous Foundation)
  • Mr AG du Toit (Boland Bank)
  • Dr SJ Eloff (General Youth Commission of the Dutch Reformed Church)
  • Dr FM Gaum (Wamakersvalleise Kultuurraad)
  • Rev JWL Gebhardt (Duth Reformed Church, Wellington)
  • Mr IB Kasselman (Dutch Reformed Church Bookstore, Transvaal)
  • Rev. HJ Linde (Bybelkor)
  • Mr WL Maree (Voorligter-Trustfonds)
  • Mr E Smit (Wellingtonse Onderwyserskollege)
  • Prof PR van Dyk (Hugenote Kollegee)

The Murray family also joined as a participating institution, but neither Rev RB Murray (primary) nor Prof AH Murray (secondary) could attend the meeting.

The following persons formed the first Executive Council:

  • Dr FM Gaum (Chairman)
  • Prof PR van Dyk (vice-chairman)
  • Mr E Smit (additional member)
  • Rev. HJ Linde (serves in an ex officio capacity, as representative of Bybelkor, as the secretary)


Over the years, other institutions have been continuously invited to join the Prize Fund as participants. The following institutions joined over time, although not all nominated members to the Governing Council/Members’ Assembly:

Year Institution
1980 Trio-Rand (SA) Bpk.
1980 Vox-Viva (Edms.) Bpk.
1981 Die FAK
1981 Die ATKV
1981 Die Helpmekaar-Studiefonds
1985 Die Sinodale Kommissie vir Publikasies en Kommunikasie van die NG Sendingkerk
1986 Die Vereniging vir Christelike Hoër Onderwys
1987 Die Tydskriftemaatskappy van die NG Kerk
1990 Nasionale Pers
1993 Christelike Uitgewersmaatskappy (CUM)
1993 Kuratorium, Teologiese Kweekskool, Stellenbosch
1999 Lux Verbi.BM
1999 Die Christelike Lektuurfonds
1999 Carpe Diem-Uitgewers
1999 NG Gemeente, Kaapstad (Groote Kerk)
2008 Fakulteit Teologie, Universiteit Pretoria
2008 Fakulteit Teologie, Universiteit Vrystaata
2011 FHBC, Wellington
2012 Fakulteit Teologie, Universiteit Stellenbosch
2016 Fakulteit Teologie, Noordwes-Universiteit
2022 AOSIS Publishing
2022 LUCA – Penguin Random House


On September 8, 2006, the Board of Trustees of the Andrew Murray Prize Fund announced that, in addition to the Andrew Murray Prize for Afrikaans media, a new series of media awards would be regularly presented. The new awards—for religious and theological books, Christian journalism, radio, and audio-visual productions in all official languages of South Africa—would be known as the “Andrew Murray-Desmond Tutu Awards.”

The Board was pleased that Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu agreed to have his name associated with these awards. The connection of his name with that of the most well-known Dutch Reformed Church preacher of the 19th and early 20th centuries can be seen as a special gesture of reconciliation. While Murray and Tutu come from different times, different church and theological traditions, and different parts of South African society, it is stated that their common faith in Jesus Christ ultimately transcends all other differences. Additionally, both Andrew Murray and Desmond Tutu, who have written numerous theological books, are examples of individuals who have uniquely utilized the media in their time. Both also stood against injustice—Murray against the British war on the Boer Republics at the beginning of the previous century, Tutu against the apartheid system later in the same century. Both Murray and Tutu are figures in South African history that exemplified exceptional integrity and courage of faith. Murray was internationally known in his time for his numerous publications still read today, and Tutu received the Nobel Peace Prize.

The Andrew Murray Prizes, awarded since 1980, would continue to recognize Christian and theological works in Afrikaans. For the Andrew Murray-Desmond Tutu Awards, Christian media work in all official languages of the country would be considered, with the only requirement being that the authors or producers must be South African citizens (dual citizenship is acceptable).


On May 22, 2014, it was announced that a new award, the Desmond Tutu-Gerrit Brand Award for Emerging Writers, would be established. Like the Andrew Murray-Desmond Tutu Awards, this award symbolizes reconciliation. Gerrit Brand was a brilliant theologian associated with the theological faculty of Stellenbosch University and passed away in March 2013 at the age of 42 due to cancer.

From time to time, special awards/honors are also awarded to individuals who have made outstanding contributions to Christian media.

The administration of the Prize Fund is managed by Bible Media and the Christian Literature Fund in Wellington.


“It’s divine irony,” said Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu with a twinkle in his eye when he agreed to have his name linked to that of Andrew Murray in the “Andrew Murray-Desmond Tutu Award for general Christian and theological books in an official language of South Africa.” And it’s true: there is something ironic about connecting the names of a white early-19th-century NG preacher and a black late-20th-century Anglican archbishop.

In any case, it’s a peculiar sign of reconciliation—something we nowadays (again) have a great need for. Because, apart from the difference between Murray and Tutu in terms of race, language, church affiliation, and time of action, there was also a strained relationship between the NG Church and the Anglican Church for many years. It only changed in the past twenty years, after apartheid came to an end in South Africa. But Murray and Tutu, both writers of many books, have one bond that binds them despite all differences: their faith in Jesus Christ.

The first Andrew Murray-Desmond Tutu Award was presented in 2007—to Wentzel van Huyssteen for his book “Alone in the world,” about the uniqueness of humans created in the “image of God.” But by that time, the Andrew Murray Award, meant for Christian and theological books in Afrikaans, had already been going on for almost three decades. The Andrew Murray Prize Fund was established in 1978, and the Andrew Murray Award was first presented in 1980—to Ferdinand Deist for his book on prayer, “Between anxiety and certainty.”

The Prize Fund was created in the year of Murray’s 150th birthday celebration, initiated by the then Wamakersvalleys Cultural Council and Bybelkor in Wellington, making it 40 years old this year. The initial intention of the Prize Fund was to reward quality publications with a Christian focus in Afrikaans. Over time, the Andrew Murray-Desmond Tutu Award, which also includes publications in other official languages of South Africa, was added, and since 2015, the Desmond Tutu-Gerrit Brand Award for debut work in any language of our country. Brand was a brilliant theologian, at one point the book editor of Die Burger, and later a lecturer at the Faculty of Theology at Stellenbosch University. He passed away in 2013 at the age of 42 due to cancer.

In the past 40 years, the various prizes have been awarded to well-known and lesser-known authors of Christian and theological books. Johan Heyns received the award three times, and Willie Jonker twice. Other winners include Izak de Villiers, Berta Smit, Maretha Maartens, FA Venter, TT Cloete, Allan Boesak, Nico Koopman, Paddy Kearney, Michael Lapsley, and Yolande Korkie. As with any prizes, there have also been controversial awards. In 2001, the award to Ben du Toit for his book, “God? Faith in a postmodern era,” caused a mini-uproar in some circles. Du Toit’s book squarely placed newer theological thinking on the table of “ordinary members” in Afrikaans for the first time. He wrote the book, he said in his preface, so that his children would one day know why their father continued to believe. There was a suggestion that the Andrew Murray Award should not be awarded that year, but it was decided—as has always been the policy—that the findings of the assessors must be accepted. In that case, the three assessors were unanimously in favor of awarding Ben’s book.

Other interesting awards include Paddy Kearney’s award in 2010 for his book on the former Roman Catholic archbishop of Durban, Denis Hurley, and in 2013, the award to anti-apartheid activist Michael Lapsley, who lost his hands through a letter bomb, for “Redeeming the Past.” Lapsley said in his acceptance speech that he appreciates the award especially because he received it “in the heart of Afrikanerdom”! Piet Naudé’s book on the Belhar Confession, “Neither Calendar nor Clock,” won in 2011 and also garnered considerable attention.

To be sure, there are writers who should have received one of the prizes but have not yet. I’m thinking especially of people like Adrio Konig and Jaap Durand, both of whom have made formidable contributions to Afrikaans theological literature but have not been awarded the Andrew Murray Prize.

Has the Andrew Murray Prize Fund made a contribution over the past 40 years to improving the quality of Christian literature? Whether the awarding of prizes as such makes a significant difference is uncertain. In any case, receiving a significant prize is an encouragement for writers. A prize is rarely declined—although it has even happened with the Hertzog Prize when NP van Wyk Louw did not want to “share” it in the 1930s with a co-poet. The number of Christian publications published annually continues to increase, although the quality is sometimes questionable. The many translations of works, especially from American writers, into Afrikaans are notable, and their circulation figures are sky-high in some cases. However, the Andrew Murray Prize Fund does not reward translations—only books originally written in a South African language can win. Fortunately, a large number of books are entered for the various prizes each year. But we are still waiting for a winning book in an indigenous South African language (other than Afrikaans)! It should happen sooner rather than later.

  • By Frits Gaum, chairman of the Andrew Murray Prize Fund: Rapport-Weekliks, July 8, 2018

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