This is definitely the big story of the last 24 hours. This incident, the reactions to it and the comments on the BBC's website, show very starkly, and beyond doubt, that God created two types of human beings. To put it into words Jesus would have used, people are either blind or they can see.

This is not an African thing, even though this happened in Africa. This is a worldwide phenomenon. It is not a catholic versus evangelical thing, even though the outcry is mostly from the fundamentalists. This spit in perception is found in all the churches.  Once people could see both the scientific and the artistic. In fact they would not have thought for a moment that there was a dividing line between the two. But over the last three hundred or so years much of humankind has lost the ability to be renascent  and the dominating zeitgeist of our time, from the new atheists to the new religious fundamentalists, is one of a mechanistic, black and white, binary worldview. Computers are not becoming more human. Humans are becoming the machine.


"Today I will start with a three-part sermon on: Jesus was HIV-positive," South African Pastor Xola Skosana recently said in a Sunday church service.

The words initially stunned his congregation in Cape Town's Khayelitsha township into silence, and then set tongues wagging in churches across the country. Some Christians have been outraged, saying he is portraying Jesus as sexually promiscuous.

However, as Pastor Skosana told those gathered in the modest Luhlaza High School hall for his weekly services, in many parts of the Bible Jesus put himself in the position of the destitute, the sick and the marginalised.

"Wherever you open the scriptures Jesus puts himself in the shoes of people who experience brokenness. Isaiah 53, for example, clearly paints a picture of Jesus who takes upon himself the infirmities and the brokenness of humanity," he told the BBC.

He is also quick to emphasise that he is using the metaphor to highlight the danger of the HIV/Aids pandemic, which still carries a stigma in South Africa's townships.

"Of course, there's no scientific evidence that Jesus had the HI virus in his bloodstream," says the pastor, whose non-denominational Hope for Life Ministry is part of a growing charismatic movement in South Africa.

"The best gift we can give to people who are HIV-positive is to help de-stigmatise Aids and create an environment where they know God is not against them, he's not ashamed of them."

But Pastor Mike Bele, who officiates at the Nomzamo Baptist Church in nearby Gugulethu, said most clergy in Khayelitsha and other Cape Town townships are strongly opposed to associating Jesus with HIV.

"The subject of my Jesus being HIV-positive is a scathing matter," he says.

"I believe no anointed leader with a sound mind about the scriptures and the role of Christ in our lives would deliberately drag the name of Christ to the ground."

For Pastor Bele portraying Jesus as HIV-positive means he becomes part of the problem, not the solution.

"The pastor needs to explain how it came about for him to bring Christ to our level, when Christ is supreme and is God," he says.

But Pastor Skosana, who has been in the ministry for 24 years and lost two sisters to Aids, argues that religious leaders have to play a much bigger role in combating the spread of the pandemic in South Africa where more than 5.7 million people live with the virus - more than in any other country.

And he concluded the last of his three-part sermon by taking an HIV test in front of the congregation - after which 100 churchgoers followed his example.

"The message to the church is that it is not enough for us to give people food privately and give them groceries, we must create an environment that's empowering because most people who are HIV-positive will not necessarily die of Aids-related sickness but more of a broken heart, out of rejection," he says.

COMMENT: Anybody who cannot understand exactly where Pastor Skosana is coming from and exactly what he is saying and why he is saying it cannot possibly understand the good news of jesus Christ as it has been given to us in the scriptures and from within our faith tradition. Heck, they are not even going to begin to understand the parables of Jesus. They are no different to the disciples who had to ask Jesus to explain the parables to them. And, unlike the disciples, these people have not been through the Pentecost experience and had their eyes opened.

Pastor Xola Skosana is our:


Heck, I would even sit through one of his charismatic services just to have the honour of being in the same room as him.

A big thank you to both Graham and Mrs MadPriest for bringing this story to my attention.


WHY DID GOD BOTHER? — 16 Comments

  1. The irony, of course, is that Pastor Xola’s detractors are so concerned about being ecclesiastically correct in regards to their beliefs about Jesus, they lose sight of the Jesus who was, and is, and is to come.

  2. Literalists have so little imagination. And apparently a complete inability to put themselves in the place of others. (Which kinda seems a necessary part of being a Christian, but what do I know.)

  3. Your last sentence is the clencher.

    Unfortunately, many if not most “religious” people cruise through life thinking they are right with God because they go to church and pay lip service to some creed, plus a few bucks in the collection plate.

    Like that fellow in Arkansas who in the same breath proclaimed his Christian values while confessing he enjoyed the thought of “fags” killing themselves or dying of AIDS.

    A total, complete disconnect between his religion and his thinking; which the history of the world, not to mention the nightly news, demonstrates to be a very common phenomenon.

    I see how Pastor Skosana was trying to bridge that gap; sad that so few refused to step over.

  4. “I believe no anointed leader with a sound mind about the scriptures and the role of Christ in our lives would deliberately drag the name of Christ to the ground.”

    …drag the name of Christ to the ground? So the detractor makes the good minister’s point – that so long as it is shameful to be HIV positive, degrading, dragged to the ground, there will Christ be also.

  5. Pastor Skosana is a Brick indeed.

    And so are you, MP, for sharing this with us.

    Meanwhile “Christians” in the UK and their buddies in North America are peeing on themselves about the Wallace and Gromit Christmas stamps.

  6. Perhaps I’m stealing gumbiecat’s thought here but there are always the Marthas in the church who want to keep the place “clean”, and the proceedings “elevated”, while the Marys are fortunately happy to get down on the ground, get dirty, and get into the message.