THE ANGLICAN BISHOP WHO HAS FORGOTTEN THE SCRIPTURE
For those who are not familiar with the teachings of Christ and by extension the Holy Bible, the mean-spirited and hateful letter (12th April 2017) to fellow Christians by the Anglican Bishop of the Diocese of Johannesburg the Right Revd. Dr SM Moreo would come as a shock. The Anglican Bishop does not hide his intense hatred for President Zuma and the African National Congress. In effect, the Bishop’s letter strangely addressed to so-called saints, calls for the downfall of President Zuma and his government.
Real Christians, who do not claim sainthood, will be comforted that the Bible cautioned early on of such sanctimonious false prophets. Mathew 7: 15 advises us to “beware of false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves.” Verse 16 goes further when it says “by their fruit you will recognize them. Are grapes gathered from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles?”
In an attempt to paint President Zuma in the most negative light, the Right Revd Dr Moreo describes developments in the last two works of the country as “tumultuous and confusing times, no more or less than the horrific times of apartheid, and akin to the terrible – terrifying – hours that began on the first Good Friday”. Even the most uninformed amongst us would not express such levels of ignorance. It is possible that the Bishop was insulated from the ravages of apartheid. He might also be unaware that apartheid was declared a crime against humanity. To compare a cabinet reshuffle with apartheid is a height of dishonesty especially coming from someone who has assumed such a sanctimonious attitude. It needs restating that there was nothing illegal and immoral in the President exercising powers that are constitutionally entrusted to him. One may quibble with whether doing so was wise. If anything, the Bishop insults the intelligence of our people.
The Anglican Bishop’s reading of the South Africa of today mirrors those of the most unreconstructed racists. Addressing the Sunday Times Literary Awards (29/06/2013) Judge Edwin Cameron presents an honest portrait than the Bishop’s hallucinations; Cameron had this to say
“We are now nearly twenty years into our constitutional democracy. Much has been achieved – perhaps more than those of us who tend to worry realise. Almost all violent crime is down. Compared to 1994, the murder rate has almost halved. Government’s housing program has put many millions of South Africans into their own homes. In 1994, just over half of households had electricity. Now 85% do. In 1994, just more than one-third of six-year-olds were in school. Now 85% are. The income of the average black family has increased by about a third. And, through the system of social grants totalling about R120 billion every year, the very poorest in our country are afforded some elements of a dignified material existence and access to a measure of social power.”
The honourable Judge continues;
“Most importantly, these material gains have been achieved within a functioning democracy. Our polity is boisterous, rowdy, sometimes cacophonous and often angry. That much is to be expected. But after nearly two decades, we have more freedom, more debate, more robust and direct engagement with each other: and certainly more practically tangible social justice than twenty years ago.”
Yet we have a Bishop who has a gall to compare the last two weeks event with apartheid. Under apartheid, protests were met with bullets, organizations were banned, families were separated from loved ones, there was no freedom of expression, of movement, and of association. In fact, the Bishop’s letter to fellow travellers smacks of the height of dishonesty, political mischief laced with a sanctimonious attitude. Its intentions are clearly and are likely to sow disunity among Christians.
Moments of social strife help to separate charlatans from Saints. Instead of spreading hatred, St Francis of Assisi prayer encourages Christians; where there is hatred, let me sow love, where there is injury, pardon, where there is despair, hope. He prayed that God should grant that he might not seek to be understood so much as to understand, and that it is in forgiving that we are forgiven. In his condemnation of others The Anglican Bishop has appropriated himself the role of God. Evidently, in his priestly lessons, he may have conveniently overlooked Luke 6: 36-37 which encourages Christians to (36) “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. 37. Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.”
The dishonesty and duplicity of the Anglican Bishop becomes more pronounced considering that he has not expressed himself in the same manner when it comes to the revelations by Competition Commission which exposed corruption by the banks, corruption by the bread cartels, corruption by the construction companies and scourge of racism that is rearing its ugly head. The Bishop is silent on the economic inequalities and the continued marginalisation of black professionals in every sphere. He hates President Zuma more than he hates conditions of squalor, homelessness, and hopelessness that apartheid has bequeathed on the majority of South Africans.
The Bishop states that he is impressed by the “measured and deliberate way in which Christians expressed their disquiet at the lack of morality and integrity of our President, our government and some of the leaders of our ruling party.” Unfortunately he does not learn anything from what he considers the measured way in which Christians have responded.
In summary, the letter by the Anglican Bishop is bereft of any Christian values. Instead of sticking to the Christian Faith, he has resorted to spewing bile that is laced with malice, intense hatred and mean spiritedness. Evidently, he is the kind of Christian that will wish others dead. What utter hypocrisy for a man of the cloth.
Perhaps the Lord Jesus Christ was referring to the likes of the Anglican Bishop of Johannesburg when he observed in Matthew 7:21-23 that 21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. 22 Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many [a]miracles?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’
Unlike the malice that he spews, we can only recommend the Bishop to desist from presenting himself as a deputy Jesus. He is definitely not a saint. We only wish that in the fullness of time, he may learn to humble himself and stop appropriating the role of God.
In the final analysis Roman 3: 23 tells us “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” and verse 24 reminds that “are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus”.
Article by Rev Masinga