This year we celebrate 20 years of South Africa’s (SA) democracy. Remember the miracle of the 1994 elections? We go to the polls again on 8 May 2014. How should the church relate to the government – the ruling ANC party – at this time? How should we vote?
Historically there have been three general approaches to the Church/State relationship:
- Kingdom of God approach: Separation of Church and State; a critical partnership meaning constructive support on matters for the good of society and critical resistance on matters harmful to society (when Kingdom values and ethics are violated).
- Constantinian approach: Union of Church and State, called Christendom, from when Emporer Constantine (311AD) became a Christian. It’s an activist involvement either for the State (a State Church), or against the State (a Subversive Church). Traditional Churches still operate in this paradigm. The Anabaptists (in 1500s) were the first to break away from State-Church control, called Free Churches.
- Pietistic approach: Church withdrawal from the State – being a-political, meaning “don’t meddle with politics… it’s not the concern of the Church”. This “remain silent” approach is found in Evangelical, Pentecostal and Charismatic churches (especially during the Apartheid years). In reality it means support for the status quo. Continue reading 2014 SA Elections: Biblical Guidance on Voting
Opposition parties and other organizations who opposed the ANC’s proposed “Protection of Information Bill” asked everyone to wear black clothes yesterday, and called it “Black Tuesday”. And rightly so! 22 November 2011 will go down in history in South Africa as Black Tuesday.
I want to register my sadness and mourning, and my outrage and protest, at the ANC vote that passed the “Information Bill” into law in parliament yesterday. This is a major step toward unaccountable and autocratic rule. It’s a major step back to what the Apartheid government did to control information, to detain and imprison people, all in the name of “state security”. In reality it’s about increasing lack of transparency with constant cover-ups of growing corruption and abuse of power.
Personally, I have no idea how ANC members of parliament who are born again Christians can live with their conscience after voting the party line. The ANC Chief Whip Dr. Motshekga told his MPs they have to vote what the ANC wants. Shame on them!
In summary, the “Protection of Information Bill”…
- Is a draconian law that puts a shroud over government and undermines South Africa’s hard won freedoms for an open and just democratic society.
Continue reading “Black Tuesday” – Pray for South Africa!
Can you please pray for my colleague (Trevor Ntlhola) and myself as we draft a call to confession and repentance for the Church in South Africa?
Archbishop Desmond Tutu recently had a much publicised press conference at which he challenged and rebuked the ANC government, calling it arrogant and disgraceful (regarding the debacle of Dalai Lama’s visa. See it on YouTube Video ). Tutu’s ‘prophetic outburst’ has been a catalyst to draw together a number of pastors in Johannesburg who have – for a considerable time now – been deeply concerned for the way our nation is going. TEASA (The Evangelical Alliance of South Africa) hosted a meeting of these concerned Christian leaders last week to plan some kind of response.
Trevor poured out his heart, saying that we (the Church, and particularly its leaders) must publicly take up a lament for the sins of deception, corruption and arrogance, etc. The meeting mandated Trevor and I to draft a short paper, a kind of clarion call to confession and repentance, which will be used as a basis for public meetings and action – to intervene is some way in the growing corruption and polarisation in the nation.
South Africa is indeed coming to another cross-roads, another kairos moment, and the Church must rise up by kneeling before God in confession and repentance, and make its presence felt by some actions for righteousness and justice. What shape or form this will take, is in God’s hands. All we know is that some of us are fed-up, like Desmond Tutu, and we want to do something… so please pray for us as we draft this paper and for this initiative that has been started. Thanks so much!