OPINION: Painful week for Angus Buchan could end well, with deeper links with black Christian leaders

Angus Buchan, centre, with Rev Chris Mathebula on his right and Rev TA Relokholela on his left, at a media briefing in Pretoria earlier this week, together with members of the Christian Leaders Forum.

Pastor and author Afrika Mhlophe who has been a main speaker at a number of Mighty Men Conferences reflects on a week in which Mighty Men Movement founder Angus Buchan has taken a battering in the media and apologised twice for something he said.

Angus Buchan stirred the hornets’ nest with his claim that the Jews and Afrikaners were the only two nations that have made a covenant with God. The Economic Freedom Front (EFF) were quick off the mark in capitalising on this mishap. Floyd Shivambu, tweeted Angus’ video message with the caption: “A racist Boer Pastor Angus Buchan says it’s only the Boers & Jews who have a covenant with God,& he’s  convening a predominantly Boers meeting in Loftus Rugby Stadium in February 2020. You can wish whatever  you want Afrika, but these people don’t want us.”

With the EFF religion was never the main focus — as it is not their priority, except if they can politicise it. In this case the party’s deputy commander in chief succeeded in othering South Africa’s whites and in projecting Angus as racist. This is despite the fact that Shivambu’s tweet — which went viral — was posted after Angus had tendered an apology.

To be honest, I am not clear of Angus’ intention in making the claim except to say that it has no theological credence. But, unfortunately, in the minds of many it would invoke the memory of the “Day of the Vow” when a few hundred Afrikaners made a public vow to God before their battle with 20 000 Zulu warriors. The day has historical significance to Afrikaners, albeit a history that carries a lot of pain for South Africa’s black majority.

Angus’ gesture, ahead of a planned Afrikaner-focused event at Loftus Rugby Stadium in February, was a public relations disaster with many accusing him of creating a religious and social hierarchy, with Afrikaners perched on top. He was seen to be pandering to Afrikaner sentiment at the expense of other racial groups and Christian unity. Others ratched things up a bit and accused him of being a rabid racist who finally revealed his true colours. This is despite the fact that the statement had the effect of subordinating Angus himself to Afrikaners.

The weeklong debacle revealed the perennial distrust among South Africans. And it is this distrust that the EFF is capitalising on. The party stands to benefit from fanning the flames of division and their message is particularly directed at the millennials. This group, also known as Gen Y, are people born from the early 80s to the early 2000s. It is their social conditions that make them susceptible to the EFF’s brand of politics.

Millennials are forced to bear the brunt of the global financial crisis. They face high levels of unemployment, lower average earnings, have difficulty in accessing higher education, etc.

A BBC online article tells us that “Generation Y is the first generation in recorded history which is projected to be worse off than those which came before.” This is despite vast acceleration in digital technology.

Access to technology is both a blessing and a curse. It allows this demographic cohort to communicate faster but also traps them into believing that perception means everything. Lauren Davis captures this well. She says: “It should come as no surprise that perception rules over our generation’s world. In fact, the only thing that Generation-Y obsesses over more than themselves are other people.”

The one thing Angus needs in order to deal with this social reality is deeper relationships with believers from other demographic groups. The depth of relationships affects the reach of his message and also how he’s is perceived, especially by those on the periphery. I know this because my perception of the Mighty Men was only improved after I got closer to Angus and others at the forefront of this movement.

I was therefore encouraged when I saw Angus flanked by senior black preachers when he tendered his second apology. For the rest of the Church we should aim to recover the lost focus to disciple our nation. Discipleship helps us to centre difficult conversations, not on race, but on the cross – where answers exist for everyone. Real discipleship – which includes preaching a holistic Gospel – is our only hope to heal our divided past and in mending the fractures that are so easily used by politicians.

Angus has played an important role in turning men back to God and their families. His heart has been to reach men of all races but although the demographics of Mighty Men Conferences have been changing for the better, black South Africans have not bought into the movement as fully as could be hoped. Hopefully, the recent, painful debacle, will have the redeeming outcome of connecting Angus with the black leaders who could partner with him in reaching men across every divide.

23 Comments

  1. Hi, Pastor Mhlophe

    I want to understand what Angus ment by saying we misunderstood his massage, what made him to utter such self degrading words of racist?

    • I believe that Hugh below explains this better. I think Angus mistook the vow with a covenant. The former is one-sided a person (s) make to God and the latter is two-sided, God and the person. We know that God has never entered into a covenant exclusively with the Afrikaners but with the Jews and thereafter with the rest of us Gentiles. There is similarities between the Afrikaners words for ‘vow’ and ‘covenant’ and so this is possibly were he got it wrong.

  2. Greetings in Jesus’ Name
    I have great respect for uncle Angus BUT must say he greatly disappointed us. We forgive him for Father God forgave him when he repented and apologised. Who are we to begrudge him?Lord, have mercy.

  3. There are a whole lot of generalization of this article, its as if you want to sweep the whole matter under the carpet and let us move on under false pretense. Firstly, Angus comments is not against Black people, but also against English, Indian and every other race or ethnicity not being Jew or Afrikaner. Secondly, though Angus sent an apology, he failed to explain what caused this belief which is obviously deeply rooted in him. Thirdly, Just because he has done great work for the kingdom of God it wasn’t because he such a great person, but because God allowed it to happen. Though motives of many pastors may not be pure God uses everything and everyone for his glory. Let’s talk about these issues which are so greatly evident in our churches:

    I commend one pastor who said he was suffering from being a racist, and is letting God show him how to overcome years of false doctrine which was is instilled in him from a young age by his christian parents.

    If race is a non-factor why do most white people exist a church as soon as ‘more black’ people start attending that church?

    The EFF and the Y generation are not to blame, they see the hypocrisy of Christianity, the bible says They shall know us by how we love one another, do we love each other or just tolerate each other? or maybe everyone should just worship according to their race or ethnicity?

    To all those who have been discouraged by these news, know that God is perfect in all his ways, trust in him and not in man for man will surely fail you. Galatians 3:28 There is neither Jew or Gentile, neither slave or free, neither male or female for you all are one in Christ.

    • You are unnecessarily conflating a number of issues and contradicting yourself. You say the utterance is “not against black people, but also against English, Indian and every other race or ethnicity not being Jew or Afrikaner.”

      Then you try and build a case for racism by talking about the general conduct of whites in some churches. And also by exonerating EFF which characterised the same utterance as racist.

      Trust me, the pastors who sat with Angus (majority being black) did not sweep anything under the carpet but interrogated him and ventilated themselves thoroughly. Their acceptance of his apology was informed by such a robust engagement.

      • Hi Afrika

        I’m glad you are privileged to things we are not aware of. In any case it does not make the matter any clearer. There are a lot of assumptions and attempts to speak on behalf of Angus…’this is what he meant’, ‘this is what he was trying to say’. If Angus himself does not release a clear statement, not only has he failed himself but his followers too.

        My poorly executed response to your article, was really meant to understand why such matters are not spoken about clearly and boldly by the church leadership from a biblical perspective, in so do doing they would eliminate any further confusion on such controversial matters.

        Let me stop here.

        Thank you

  4. There is thousands in South Africa who make racist statements daily and then they are also big figures. They dont get thrown out or repremanded!!!. But poor uncle Angus make one mistake now you people cant wait you can’t wait to condemn him and throw him to the wolves. He is the best person I know. He is a man of God. Look in the mirror first before you throw a stone!!!

    • Hi Erna
      We can’t compare politicians to Christians. We get our Wisdom from God, we are His representatives, we are His custodians and mouthpieces. Our Yea should be Yea and our Nay should be Nay based on the infallible Word of God.

  5. Angus is an Evangelist and not a theologian therefore give him some grace. Nobody is perfect nor good. That catogory belongs to God alone. We are human vessels used by God.We all make mistakes and James said ‘who can tame the tongue. (James chapt 3 )Why don’t those critics stop turning everything a person says into a racist debate. Acknowledge we are all racist at core that need healing and move on with our lives beyond that.

  6. The core problem is with this belief: that we sinful human being can ever make a ‘covenant’ with the holy Almighty God! “Angus Buchan stirred the hornets’ nest with his claim that the Jews and Afrikaners were the only two nations that have made a covenant with God”. The best we can do is to make a Vow to God. As was done at Blood River. A Vow is a one-sided promise, and not matter what conditions we attach to it, it does NOT oblige God in any way. It is only God who has the right, the prerogative to make a COVENANT. The two major Covenants which God initiated was The Old Covenant connected with the Law, and The New Covenant sealed with the blood of Jesus Himself. The task of evangelists, like Angus Buchan, is to preach the New Covenant and call sinners to repentance and faith in Jesus Christ. The New Covenant is open to all races, languages, nations – including Jews and Afrikaners who are also sinners needing the Saviour. A Vow is a human promise to God. A Covenant is a Divine promise to humankind. If we all understand these core principles, the distinction between a Vow and a Covenant, we will avoid making offensive statements that turn others away from Christ.

  7. The real problem the Church prefers to shy away from is the challenge to speak the truth, no matter what. The Church does not have to be politically correct or her words acceptable to kings and presidents, provided she is in right standing with GOD. Such a Church is being lead by men who are fearless of men because they have been filled with the true Power of GOD. Unfortunately the Church of today have no men (or woman) committed to the truth, leaders that fear GOD and that are filled with the Holy Ghost. We have a bunch of empty vessels with no spiritual sight. All they do is kicking up a noise and turning towards every sound that comes from the political and/or social arena. They have no fear of GOD and are for instance, telling GOD how and what a covenant is. The past twenty years this tendency has escalated almost out of proportion. May GOD help His Church

  8. I am very much interested to hear the Afrikaans and Jews Religious Leaders denouncing what Angus said. Their silence on this matter gives some of us an impression that Angus wasn’t making a mistake he was sharing what he has been ‘fed’ or what he ‘feeds them’.

    I find it unnecessary for this Group of black Christians to dive into apologies before we clearly understand what Angus statement really meant and where it is derived from.

    • My brother Sipho I cannot comment on the response of Afrikaners leaders. But Jewish leaders have no reason to comment because it is true that God entered into a covenant with that nation. The covenant of God with humans today is between Jews and Gentiles with Jews having their own special place.

      As for black pastors, they did not dive into apologies but had a prolong meeting with Angus where they got to interrogate what he and why. The acceptance of the apology was based on a robust and open engagement

  9. If we are students of the Bible then we will all know that all things work together for good for those who are loved and called according to Gods purpose. The scriptures are very clear that we need God more than we think. Let us all forgive because we have been forgiven and continue to seek the face of God. God is more deeper than we can imagine. I pray that we try and avoid anything that have the potential of making us wrong with God instead of asking the Lord, “what is happening here”. I like the advice from Gamaliel when the Pharisees thought they were on God’s side when in actual fact they were opposing HIM (Acts 5: 33-38). The best response to such things is to wait and hear what the Holy Spirit is aying about the person and the situation around the incident. May God bless us all as we continue to serve him. Good morning

  10. I find the judgemental approach of many Christians towards Angus very concerning. I am also concerned by many Christians who respond with accusations of race when in fact Angus simply made a factually incorrect statement. I am reminded of a recent post from Afrika which says something like ….that if Christians were responsible for choosing who enters heaven, very few would make it. I truly believe that our obsession with race prevents us from seeing the truth of any matter. While we must accept that race is a sensitive matter in our society, if we looked at the heart of man we would see the light of the Lord more clearly… either shining brightly, dimly or non existent. The Light of the Lord shines clearly and brightly in the heart of Angus. If we had the same measure we would see this first and then understand the mistake that Angus made, hear his apology and in turn be able to forgive him. We are all sinners and none can pick up a stone and throw it. Thank you Afrika for as always… bringing a clear perspective to this situation. Many of us share your sentiments of the MM movement needing to being more reflective of the demographics of our society. I remember a few years ago how Angus also expressed this desire at the MM conference in the Karoo. In fact it was at the same conference where I heard you preach for the first time and was impressed with your insight and understanding of the challenges within society and with your courage to preach the Word accurately. Blessings to you and thank you for your insight into this matter.

  11. The fact is the Afrikaans nation did covenant with God and did promise God that if He would protect them they would commemorate that day the 16th of December as a Sabbath day. They would teach their children and their children and so on. God did protect them. Not one life was lost; yet sadly many have them have forgotten to honour this covenant before God. This is all that Uncle Angus meant. Nothing more. He is encouraging the Boer nation to repent before God. Simple as that. This thing has been completely blown out of proportion.

    • John the Afrikaners made a vow and not a covenant. Read Hugh’s note above. He explains the difference between a vow and a covenant.
      Angus made a mistake by referring to a covenant.

  12. Angus was encouraging the Afrikaans nation to repent.
    Hes a humble, wonderful man of God.
    God will turn this around for good.

  13. I believe Angus intends to be a healer and reconciler. To draw a line through his whole ministry and efforts, based on one statement is unfair, unloving and arrogant. Speaking the truth in Love, predetermine an equal dose of love and truth! The way some leaders are correcting this matter, from a distance, in derogatory use of words, towards a fellow minister may be understandable in terms of their pain, but it reveals the very same spirit, of the very thing they are trying to correct. Afrikaners made themselves guilty of this very same, dehumanising, derogatory, prideful, way of dealing with people – labelled ‘whiteness’. It is going to take a determined intentional resolve of leaders from all parts of the Body of Christ, to begin to eradicate the sins of pride, division, ambition, ego and self-determination that has divided the Body of Christ. His body is already one, we are already one in Christ. It is our own iniquities and transgressions that is dividing us. I applaud the maturity of leaders engaging directly face-to-face and growing together! Thanks Africa for your part!

  14. As much as the lord Jesus Christ has suffered in love.so we welling suffer for having a relationship with
    him.

  15. Evening beloved saints and family in Christ Jesus our Savior. Any words uttered in ignorance will be forgiven. But, any words uttered against the Spirit of the GODHEAD, will surely be accounted for at 2nd death “JUDGMENT”. BE WARNED, WHOEVER GRIEVES THE HOLY SPIRIT OF TRUTH, THAT SIN WILL NOT BE FORGIVEN !!! 🙏🙏🙏

  16. Let’s all stop pointing fingers, we are all human, and at the end of the day I dont care who says what about me, as long as God knows my heart that’s all that matters. Angus made a mistake and we all do. Although Angus and many others might be close to God, they are not GOD, so let’s forgive and move on and stop moaning all the time. It’s what God knows that really counts.
    Have a blessed day all.