Wednesday, 29 October 2014

The prophetic voice in South Africa

On my way back to Pietermaritzburg I read the Tuesday 28 October issue of the Star. On page 8 I found a column and on page 9 an article. They were equally interesting. Both contained the views of top, South African church leaders.

The column is written by Pastor Ray McCauley, who is the president of the Rhema family churches. He is furthermore co-chairman of the National Religious Leaders Council. His column is a response to a call from South Africa’s Finance Minister, Nhlanhla Nene, that South Africa must “take the pill now or risk an economic disaster later.”

McCauley is totally in agreement with the Finance Minister and ends his column:
Let us support Nene and take his medicine. It is for our collective good.
First of all it is interesting that this evangelical pastor, leader of a prosperity gospel church, involves himself in the political life of the country. This is however nothing new. It is a well-known fact that McCauley is a supporter of the present government. The column makes this even clearer. He is in fact telling the readers of the Star, that they must be prepared for budget cuts across ministries and departments. He does say that higher income groups must pay more. But not with a single word does he mention corruption.

The article on page 9 is different. It is an excerpt from the Beyers Naudé Memorial lecture delivered by the Anglican Archbishop Thabo Makgoba. In his lecture he speaks out against corruption and he does that quite frankly. He insinuates that President Zuma regards corruption to be a crime only in a Western paradigm. And the archbishop mentions Nkandla in this context.

In fact, Archbishop Makgoba points out corruption as the major threat to democracy. And he makes no secret about the President being one of his main targets.

There are some similarities between the two texts I am referring to in this blog post but the differences are over whelming. Makgoba belongs to a mainline church. McCauley to a fast growing, charismatic church. President Zuma, contrary to his predecessors, clearly has turned to those new, denominations and they welcome this. Hopefully this will path the way to a new need for the South African Council of Churches as a strong prophetic voice in the country. I hope that they will reorganise the council, change the constitution and maybe also the name and arise like a Phoenix from the ashes. I also hope that Thabo Makgoba will be the president of such a resurrected council. And why not having Ray McCauley as one of the deputy presidents? I believe that the future for the ecumenical movement lies in cooperation between all Christians.

Having said this I also need to add, that there should also be women in a top leader position. Right now only men are leading the council.

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