Read the following quote and think of a famous church leader who could have said this.

“At the same time, we Christians must never hesitate to proclaim our faith in the uniqueness of the salvation won for us by Christ, and to explore together a deeper understanding of the means He has placed at our disposal for attaining that salvation. God “wants all to be saved, and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim 2:4), and that truth is nothing other than Jesus Christ, eternal Son of the Father, who has reconciled all things in Himself by the power of his Cross. In fidelity to the Lord’s will, as expressed in that passage from Saint Paul’s First Letter to Timothy, we recognize that the Church is called to be inclusive, yet never at the expense of Christian truth. Herein lies the dilemma facing all who are genuinely committed to the ecumenical journey.”

How serious are Protestants about unity in the body of Christ? Are we at all willing to think that God would love to see His Church as one body, Protestants, Catholics and Orthodox? I must admit, I get a bit frustrated when protestants, when I mention the word orthodox, still ask: “What are you talking about, the Jews?”, or when they do realise that I am talking about a Christian group; “Are they really Christian, were do they come from?” How did it happen that we grew so far apart that we have no knowledge of one another only perceptions.

When will Protestants ever come to a point of understanding that the Catholic Church does not worship Mary as our saviour, that the Catholic Church is a church and not a different religion? But, in all fairness, will the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church ever admit that there are also children of God in the protestant tradition and that we are also Church, part of the body?

We all need to sit down and carefully rethink our commitment towards unity. It is important for Christ that the body should be one. (John 17). Why not try and start a conversation in your area with people from different religious backgrounds? Start the conversation with time in silence and experience the unity in Christ that is calling at us.

O, yes, the quotation – for all my protestant friends: Pope Benedict XVI, Great Hall, Lambeth Palace, 17 September 2010.

Is Greed Good? Response on Our moral code is out of date

Responding to the United States’ moral and economic crisis, CNN, the cable network founded by Ted Turner, has just published a column that gives an impassioned plea for morality—yes, you heard that right, morality. 

At first, I might have been tempted to think that they subscribe to Soul Provider. We’ve been saying this since the economic collapse.

But, sad to say, the writers, Yaron Brooke and Onkar Ghate, aren’t calling for a return to biblical ethics. Instead, they explicitly reject anything having to do with religious morality in favour of an inverted moral code that exalts human selfishness.

Brooke and Ghate, who work for the libertarian Ayn Rand Center for Individual Rights, say that just as humanity ushered in the modern world by rejecting religious superstition in favour of science and political tyranny for the rights of man, so now we must dispense with, as they call it, “antiquated moral ideas”—like generosity. Instead, they assert we should instead lift up those in the economy who exhibit “a profound dedication to material production.”

First, Brooke and Ghate have gotten their history all wrong. Religious faith has not been a barrier to science or to political and economic freedom. Quite the contrary. Rodney Stark, in his groundbreaking book, The Victory of Reason, rightly calls that kind of notion utter “nonsense.” Stark writes, “The success of the West, including the rise of science, rested entirely on religious foundations, and the people who brought it about were devout Christians.”

Second, Brooke and Ghate have gotten their religion wrong, presenting a caricature of Christianity that is a mockery of genuine biblical faith. The key concept for Christians when it comes to economics and wealth creation is not asceticism, but stewardship. God has created all good things for us to develop and enjoy, as long as He, and not we, are on the throne.

The problem with the late Ayn Rand, who was a devout atheist, was the misguided belief that man is the measure of all things. Rand called her philosophy “the concept of man as a noble being, with his own happiness as the moral purpose of his life, with productive achievement as his noblest activity, and reason as his only absolute.” Indeed, in her well-known work Atlas Shrugged, which is still a bestseller, the main character replaces the cross with a dollar sign.

That should be enough to raise red flags for Christians. But it isn’t. Christian financial expert Gary Moore has been a powerful critic of Rand and her radical libertarian worldview. In a new Christianity Today article, Moore warns that “Rand’s philosophy is still deeply embedded in large sectors of the American economy, as well as among some Christian financial advisers and religious leaders.”

But folks, radical selfishness can never be a principle of Christian ethics—economic or otherwise. Our belief in God, and His call on us to stewardship and charity, must make a difference in our everyday lives—including in our budgeting, giving, and economic behavior. Self-sacrifice and generosity never go out of style for the Christian, especially in tough economic times like these.

Contrary to what Gordon Gecko said in the movie Wall Street, greed isn’t good. And if the current economic mess teaches us anything, it’s that we don’t need a new moral code, just more people who will follow the one God gave us—the tried and true one.


Vreemde Jesus op vreemde plekke

Die ewigheid of oneindigheid van Christus is net te veel om oor na te dink. Hierdie Mens wat uit ‘n vrou gebore is, wie se pa ‘n skrynwerker was, staan voor ons geestesoog in die stofstrate van Jerusalem. Hy was ‘n plattelander en het seker soos een gepraat ook. Tog is Hy al van alle ewigheid af saam met die Vader, kom Hy om die Vader bekend te stel. “As julle my gesien het, het julle die Vader gesien.” Die Vader wat alles tot stand gebring het en ook hierdie aarde in stand hou.

Dis dalk waarom ons eerder van die Jesus in die hemel hou, die skoon rein Oorwinnaar. Ons gebede is maklik tot Hom gerig en ons sing die mooiste liedere oor Hom. Dis egter die skewe fokus op hierdie beeld van Christus wat maak dat ons die Christus tussen ons nie meer raak sien nie. In Mat 25:31-46 sê Jesus dat terwyl mense vandag na Hom soek en Hom nie vind nie, kan dit dalk wees dat hulle op die verkeerde plek soek. Jesus bevind Hom vandag tussen hulle wat dors is en honger kry. Hy is in stinkende tronke en in vuil plakkerskampe. Wanneer ek Hom daar vind, maak ek Hom sigbaar vir die mense rondom Hom. Hy het Hom eens op ‘n tyd kom ledig van sy Godheid toe Hy mens geword het. Hy doen dit vandag nog. Ons soek God in ons wêreld. God is in mense binne ons wêreld. Ons sal mense weer moet begin raaksien.


Affluenza, die siekte van ons tyd. Dit was die tema van die lentekonferensie wat verlede week deur die fakulteit teologie (Univ Pretoria) aangebied was. Ons het so welvarend geword, dat ons eintlik siek is daarvan. Die tragiek, ons wil steeds meer hê! Hierdie siekte sit binne ons menswees. Ons ego teer daarop, want hoe meer ek het, hoe beter is ek veronderstel om oor myself te voel. Die ego voel trots en opgeblase omdat ek meen besit is prestasie. Om hierdie siekte te genees, moet ons egter verstaan dat dit neerslag gevind het in ons geestelike lewe. Ons wil in ons geestelike lewe ook meer hê. Omdat ons geestelike lewe tot uiting kom in o.a. ons godsdiensbeoefening wil ons meer hê; meer preke, meer lofprysing, meer, meer, meer.

St Johannes van die Kruis (1542-1591) het dit glutony genoem, vraatsug. Vraatsug nie na meer middele nie, maar vraatsug na meer “geestelike middele”. Die Here moet nog meer gawes aan my gee, ek is nooit tevrede met die maat van geloof wat ek ontvang het nie (Rom 12:3). Ek begeer meer vir my geestelike lewe. Dit klink alles vroom, maar dit is ook maar tekens van Affluenza. Die siekte het gelowiges ook beet gepak. Die ego teer ook op geestelike affluenza.

Wat is die medikasie om te neem? Dit help tog nie ons wil begin met die geykte oplossings nie, koop minder, spandeer minder, of nog meer vreemd, sing minder, preek minder en bid minder. En tog, die medikasie lê in die eenvoud van stilte. Ons sal moet leer om heel eerste van geraas ontslae te raak. Ons sal weer moet leer om net by God te kan rus en net daarmee tevrede te kan wees: Om stil te wees by God. Die groot Geneesheer skryf rus voor: Om in stilte, daagliks by Hom te begin rus. Daar besef ek al wat ek nodig het, is die intieme eenheid met my Vader. Ek wens jou beterskap toe, gebruik die medikasie – Stilte, twee keer ‘n dag.