Book Notes: God Is Not a Christian by Desmond Tutu: I Stand Here Before You

 

I read God Is Not a Christian: And Other Provocations by Desmond Tutu, and it is one of the most amazing books I have read. I greatly recommend it, whatever your religious beliefs. Desmond Tutu, arch-bishop of the Anglican Church in South Africa has won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984, fought against the apartheid, and is incredibly out-spoken concerning issues of tolerance, oppression, civil and human rights. I want to quote ever single page, but I’m trying to limit myself. Today I’ll be sharing my favourite quotes from the chapter, I Stand Here Before You:

“As a Christian I believe that God cares about justice, about righteousness, about right and wrong, about exploitation, about oppression. And I know that the South African way of life, the present ordering of society, is unjust and immoral. It is oppressive and evil. If whites don’t think so, could they please change places with blacks for a few days? Let them leave their posh homes and come to stay in Soweto and use the inadequate means of transport; let them run the gauntlet of police roadblocks; let them be subject to the multifarious laws which apply to blacks for just a few days, and see whether they don’t agree that this system is evil, is unjust and immoral and for that reason is bound to fail. Because God finds it hateful in his sight. Don’t delude yourselves. It is an un-christian system, abhorrent to Christian consciences in the rest of the world, and it will collapse like all other immoral systems before it – systems which appeared to carry all before them.”

“I appeal to you: please hear us. All we want is for you to recognize that we are human beings like you; we want recognition. We want to avert bloody violence just like you. But those of us among black leaders who speak about peace and reconciliation are rapidly having our credibility eroded since, as we speak, your side replies with police dogs, with teargas, with bullets, and with death. That way lies the destruction of all of us, black and white together. Come, let us walk tall together into the wonderful future that can be ours, black and white together. Don’t wait until it’s too late; don’t wait until we have the fulfillment of the ghastly prophecy in Cry, the Beloved Country – “When they are turned to living, they will find we are turned to hating.” Please hear us before it is too late.”

“Isaiah is condemning religious practices if these have no bearing and relevance to the social, political, and economic sphere. He is saying that such religion is an insult to God and therefore blasphemous. It is as if religious people were trying to bribe God. “God, we will do this for you if you let us do as we please.” God says, “Not on your life.” We know too, that when Jesus, the very Son of God himself, walked this earth, he did not say to sick people, “Never mind: things will be all right for you in heaven.” No, he healed the sick; he opened the eyes of the blind; he fed the hungry. Anybody who tries today to tell people who are oppressed, who live in slums and hovels, who are shunted about from one place to another, who are evicted from their homes and made to sleep in tents on pavements because they are the wrong skin color, who are paid low wages as cheap labor, who live in matchbox houses with inadequate lighting and unpaved streets and inadequate recreation facilities, who must get up at four A.M. in order to be at work at seven or eight, because the transportation system is inadequate, who can’t educate their children because they must pay for that education while the rich ones of this land can have their children educated freely and compulsorily – if anyone can tell people in those conditions not to worry because things will be all right in heaven, then such a person makes a mockery of the religion of Jesus Christ.”

 

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    1. Writer’s Wednesday: God Is Not a Christian by Desmond Tutu « Becky's Kaleidoscope

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