On Friday July 26th South Africa’s iconic and provocative retired archbishop, Desmond Tutu, said he would rather spend his eternity in hell than in heaven with a homophobic God that condemns homosexuality as sin.
Wow, if ever there was a time not to be standing next to Mr. Tutu in a rain storm, it would have been at that moment. Planning ahead are we, Mr. Tutu? No need to pack a heavy coat for your final trip.
What causes a man of such experience and prestige to trample the standards of God by making these outlandish statements? Why not with grace and humility tell the truth to those who are lost and following a selfish and wicked lifestyle? Isn’t that the call he answered so long ago?
Tutu might as well have come out and scolded God, demanded He repent and apologize for Sodom and Gomorrah.
I wonder if his faculties are waning.
This latest headline grabber reminds me of the Archbishop’s book of a few years ago, “God Is Not A Christian”, where he tries to lay claim the equality of all religions — pointing out that religious belief is more of an accident of birth rather than a choosing of it. This is undeniably true, but to leave it there is far too simplistic.
The problem isn’t being born into a false religion, the problem is being born into any religion and not studying it and understanding it well enough as to recognize it’s truth or lack thereof. Christians are as guilty of this as any religious community. Lack of knowledge due to lack of study is no virtue. How can anyone “Go” and share their faith, let alone make converts, if they don’t first study it, understand it, and apply it in their own lives, developing into a personal advocate for it and defender of it?
Tutu tries to boil it all down to a simple point of personal preference, relating it to a man on the street looking for the illusive “other side.” Regardless of what side of the street he is on, he can never be “on the other side.” It’s a bit like the idea that — from the perspective of today — tomorrow never does come. Tomorrow will become today, yesterday is gone and we are once again looking ahead to tomorrow again and again. Tomorrow cannot be yesterday nor can it be today, no matter what day it is, tomorrow is perpetually in the future, out of our reach, so goes “the other side” dilemma.
Tutu speaks, I believe, an undeniable universal truth when he says that we are all God’s children, all created in God’s image, that we all have infinite worth and that God has entered into a covenantal relationship with each and every one of us. But we have to back that up with what God’s revelation His revealed Word tells us, and not rely on our hollow human desires filled with the froth of emotion.
We must all test our views, our thoughts, our actions, our religion and our spirituality against the standard — God’s Word.
God’s covenant is a two way street. God has done his job and given his promise, our job is to accept it and be obedient stewards — worthy of the calling. God has a clear plan, as laid out in his Word, and it isn’t going to be found in any modern day “flavor of the month” relativistic religious potpourri, where, no matter which religious tradition you choose or were born into it is all acceptable to God. That line of thinking is not found in scripture. It’s a fabrication, it’s a lie, the creation of the frail and selfish human mind.
Proverbs 26:5 tells us “Answer a fool as his folly deserves, That he not be wise in his own eyes.” There are some who are wise and there are some who are fools. Praising right and pointing out foolishness are both what we are called to do. Calling out the wicked and condemning sin is our job.
Archbishop Tutu can make all the claims he wants; the fact is that God is not found in all expressions of religious belief, no matter how sincere the man.
Tutu fails to back up his claims with scripture, and until he does he must be viewed as a charlatan. 1 Timothy 6:4 tells us; “If anyone advocates a different doctrine and does not agree with sound words, those of our Lord Jesus Christ, and with the doctrine conforming to godliness, he is conceited and understands nothing; but he has a morbid interest in controversial questions and disputes about words,…” Tutu either needs to root his provocations in God’s Word or give back his Anglican title and simply espouse his foolishness as a lay person and not as a man of the cloth. Matthew 7:15 warns us “”Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing,…”
No man, no matter how reasonable, no matter how noble his title, not even the esteemed Archbishop Tutu should be allowed to have his opinion trump what is clearly taught in the scriptures. John 14:6 is clear, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.” To toss this truth aside for some feel good, man made idol worship, is foolishness. We may wrestle with the fact that most of the world is born into other religious traditions, we might even painfully wonder why it is so and be saddened, but yet we have the opportunity and the obligation to turn that into hope and motivation, for the fate of many precious souls hangs in the balance.
What are we then to do about it? We are commanded in Matthew 28:19 to “go” and tell the truth, bring the good news to the world — far from what Tutu is saying, to understand them and support them in their current lost state, not to give them comfort in their foolish ignorance.
Christ tells us we are called to be ambassadors of his “great commission” and “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations” Matthew 28:19. We are to bring them the good news and change their hearts and minds. Planting seed and reaping harvests. Sounds like Archbishop Tutu has given up, waived the white flag, and gone AWOL from the Lord’s army.
Tutu’s expressions are of retreat and the faint of heart. Colossians 1:28 tells us “We proclaim Him, admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, so that we may present every man complete in Christ.”
The archbishop fails the test because he doesn’t hold true to the exclusivity claim of Christ as the only way. Popular or not, God makes the rules and no matter what anyone thinks — there is no hiding from the judgment of your Creator. The Bible makes it exceedingly clear, there is but one way, and it is specific, as Christ himself made the proclamation, “no one comes to the Father but through Me.” There are no indications what-so-ever for a Celestial mulligan for those of other faiths. And that becomes our burden — more so than theirs — for they are lost and in the darkness, and we are called to bring them the light so that they might see.
Sad that a man like Tutu who has touched so many lives might throw it all away and get his wish to spend eternity in that “other” place, should he continue walking the path he is on.
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