Is God Deaf? – Reply to Mail&Guardian

This is a letter I sent to Mail&Guradian on the 21st April 2011:

Mail&Guardian newspaper in South Africa publishes an annual religious edition every Thursday before Easter Friday. This year they did the same and their theme is “Where is God”. I took an issue with one of their articles written by Andile Mngxitama called “Is God deaf” (link ), in fact I took an issue with all Christian focussed articles except one written by Verashni Pillay, except that I don’t think she understands what the bible mean by not judging others.

What Andile wrote is nothing new, but it’s the same rhetoric that has been pushed by African Americans community leaders/pastors like Jesse Jackson, Jeremiah Wright and many other African political activists and pastors. In Christian circles we call it Social Gospel Movement. Social Gospel Movement has been around since the late 19th century and it tries to apply Christian ethics to “social problems, especially social justice, inequality, liquor, crime, racial tensions, slums, bad hygiene, child labor, weak labor unions, poor schools, and the danger of war” (1). So it is clear that Andile is an advocate of Social Gospel, and he hijacks solid biblical teachings to fit his view of the world and try to champion the causes of his people (African/Blacks) at the expense of other people of different race. This is the same reason people like Jesse Jackson have to come to prominence in the United States, and I suspect it’s the same reason our own ruling party, ANC, uses the bible to win votes.

Andile’s article shows the anger that Africans, especially those who have suffered through slavery, apartheid, colonialism and other injustices have against God. During parliamentary inquiries on the abortion and homosexual marriage bills, I believe this anger was manifested through our own ANC MPs, who felt that God let them down by allowing apartheid to happen; hence they didn’t recognize the bible’s opinion on abortion and homosexuality. And of course we can’t deny the fact that one of apartheid’s main fortresses was the church, not just NG kerk but almost all churches, which used the bible to promote and defend apartheid.

So I’m not surprised that Andile quotes Steve Biko who suggested that “Christianity is corrupt to serve oppression by blaming the victims of oppression.” We now know that Biko fell at the hands of the apartheid system which declared itself Christian. Andile also quotes a “young black radical philosopher” named Ncebisa Mpenymama who supposedly said “God uses his big celestian remote control to mute the prayers of black people”. And Andile agrees with him by saying “There is overwhelming evidence to show that God has not been listening to black people’s prayers. The situation is so bad that often we are left with no option but to conclude that God is a white racist.”

Andile goes on to say: “If God is omnipotent as His believers tell us, why has He allowed so much black suffering? Any black person not terrorised into silence by the idea of hellfire must have a few questions to pose to the Lord, our alleged maker. Why did God allow blacks to be enslaved like animals? Why did He allow them to be colonised? Why did He allow apartheid? Why is God allowing our current politicians to continue making promises to us without delivery? Do the sins against black people matter in God’s eyes? The experience of life for black people is filled with great difficulty and struggle. If God is our parent then we must accuse Him of favouritism and cruel neglect of the black side of the family.”  

Andile assumes that African communities are the only ones suffering in the world, or they are suffering more than any other races in the world, but it doesn’t take a history graduate to know that Andile doesn’t base his assumptions on facts. History tells us that Mao Tse-Tung killed up to 70 million Chinese people, Joseph Stalin killed no lesser than 15 million white people, Hitler nearly wiped of the gypsy community while also killing 6 million Jews, Saloth Sar known as Pol Pot killed around 2 million Asians, while the Arabs’ death toll is the worst in history if counting from the crusades. So there is no basis whatsoever to suggest that Africans had suffered more than any other race in the world. Africa might be the poorest continent in the world, but it is no suggestion that God is biased against Africans. In fact the three poorest countries in the world, Congo, Zimbabwe, and Liberia have man-made problems that God had nothing to do with. So instead of putting the blame squarely on God, then perhaps it’s time we look at the Africans themselves and ask why God gave them such responsibility when they don’t seem to manage it.

Having said that, I find that the anger at God has little to do with the suffering of the African people, but more to do with the agenda to dismiss God’s authority on the world. I won’t be surprised if Andile is communist, hence his reference to Karl Marx, a known communist who also had a problem with God. He once said “religion is an illusion that provides reasons and excuses to keep society functioning just as it is”. And I think Marx’s standpoint on religion and specifically Christianity is what makes Andile think that God doesn’t listen to prayers. If God caused apartheid, as Andile might suggest, then isn’t it possible that he also liberated the African people from it? Then why isn’t He worthy of praise and honor from those who suffered from apartheid? Reality is Andile probably doesn’t even think God exists, but he’s willing to credit Him with everything bad on this world, while absolving him of any good thing happening. But I’m not surprised because every communist wants to rule the people, and they find God’s hold on people as a hindrance to them. It’s no wonder that communist leaders like Hu Jintao, Kim II Sung, and many others make it a point to persecute the church and try to wipe it off.

Perhaps it’s not Andile’s communist convictions that make him question God, but more his lack of biblical knowledge. The bible says God is “a father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling” (Psalm 68:5). And God Himself encourages people to act: “Defend the cause of the weak and fatherless; maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed. Rescue the weak and needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.” (Psalm 82:3-4). The bible defines true Christianity as follows: “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world” (James 1:27). As such there’s no truth whatsoever that God is not interested in the welfare of all humans, equally, African or otherwise.

But did God sanction human tragedies like apartheid or slavery? No! God gave us the Ten Commandments, as a standard that He expects everybody to abide by, and He will use the same standard to judge the world. He said “you shall not murder” (Exodus 20), and went further and said “Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life in him.” (1 John 3:15). He made it clear that those who hate others will be under His judgment in hell, and this makes us certain that all those who were involved in slavery, apartheid, holocaust, etc will be brought into justice. But His justice doesn’t end there; He will also bring liars, drunkards, fornicators, adulterers, homosexuals, etc to justice (see 1 Corinthians 6:9-10).

By the way, Khayelitsha is not hell, and it doesn’t even have one thing comparable to hell. Revelation 20:15 says hell is a lake of fire. Psalm 11:6 says it’s a horrible tempest. Psalm 18:5 says it’s a place of sorrows. Matthew 13:42 says it’s a place of wailing, a furnace of fire. Luke 16:23 says it’s a place of torments. Matthew 8:12 says it’s a place of outer darkness. Revelation 14:11 says it’s a place of unrest. Luke 16:24 says it’s a place where people scream for mercy. Matthew 25:46 says it’s a place of everlasting punishment. Khayelitsha is more like heaven, compared to the biblical hell.

But God is also love, hence we celebrate Easter. Through Jesus Christ, He wiped off the guilt of all humans, so they may be look righteous to Him. We broke God’s Law (Ten Commandments), and God has found us guilty and sentenced us to hell. But Jesus has served a hell sentence for us, so we don’t have to go to hell. During that first Easter, justice was done, Jesus served our sentence so we may leave God’s courtroom to be free. But if you don’t want Jesus to serve your sentence for you, then you’ll have to serve it yourself. That’s what Easter is all about, it’s not about pushing racial agendas in the name of communism, or engaging in drinking binges or fornications. Easter is about accepting God’s guilty plea deal!

Do I have to mention that I’m also African, but most importantly Christian? And my grandfather (born 3 months ahead of Nelson Mandela) was denied the opportunity to make something with his life by the apartheid system. That he worked for Transnet for decades, only to retire with a R240 a month pension. Or perhaps I should mention that my wife’s uncle was in Robben Island with Nelson Mandela, and he lost his mind during imprisonment after the apartheid police tortured him senselessly. He fought for freedom of the African people and paid with his life for it, and he benefitted nothing from the new Democratic government that happens to be African. And of course, I’m the front opposite of Andries Tatane in Ficksburg, and I saw how the African government denied him a student loan so he can further his studies, even after he tried to commit suicide at Wits University so the authorities can extend his stay in the University, a man who died fighting an African government that is angry at God for allowing apartheid to happen, yet the same government enslaves its own people by denying them water and electricity. Perhaps if I was white then I would call God a black racist who has kept a corrupt and blasphemous government in power for 17 years. I have a feeling an Afrikaner would one day write a similar article to Andile’s!

Sello Rasephei blogs at https://burden4souls.wordpress.com

References:

  1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_Gospel
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2 Comments »

  1. Buks van Ellewee said

    Very thought provoking and well thought through. May we all approach God in deep humility knowing that we all, regardless of race stand guilty before a Holy God. May we respond to his grace and mercy by extending the same unconditional love that we received from Him, to those around us.

    Thanks for sharing this!

  2. Vpzrxqiw said

    I’d like to order some foreign currency young kidz cp
    %-D

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