Pityana speaks on ‘theology of voting’

Professor Barney Pityana talking on the 'theology of voiting' in PE today. Bishop Bethlehem Nopece (right) of the Anglican Diocese of Port Elizabeth opened this gathering.
Professor Barney Pityana talking on the ‘theology of voiting’ in PE today. Bishop Bethlehem Nopece (right) of the Anglican Diocese of Port Elizabeth opened this gathering.

The Nelson Mandela Bay Consultation of Christian Churches played host today ( Thursday, November 28) to a consultation discussing “The theology of voting.” The consultation was held at St Stephens Anglican Church in New Brighton and was addressed by Professor Barney Pityana, who is the former vice challensor of UNISA.

In deciding to host this consultation Archdeacon Zwelidumile Tom felt that the Church has a role to play in stimulating people’s thinking and in deepening democracy. He felt that a theology of voting is not something that is obvious for most Christians.

“If it was obvious, why did some Christians continue to vote for the National Party government? Similarly, why do some black Christians and leaders still feel obliged to support an abusive relationship? — i.e. that of the African National Congress and the majority of black people.”

Bishop Bethlehem Nopece of the Anglican Diocese of Port Elizabeth opened the gathering by saying that Daniel in Babylon defied the king’s decree because of his convictions. He read 1 Peter 2:9-10 and spoke about the fact that as Christians we are ambassadors of Christ and therefore we have a duty to God and to the country. He bemoaned the fact that we are Christians in name only and not in practice.

When Prof Pityane spoke he opted not to read a speech but spoke from his heart. He read from Galatians 5:1 which is a verse that talks about the freedom we have in Christ. He cautioned us not to allow ourselves to be enslaved again. When unpacking the subject of the consultation Pityana said theology is first and foremost not a story about God but about people’s interaction with God.

He spoke about a theologian who has his head in heaven but his feet on earth, which means he engages with the world around him but is guided by God’s word. He stressed that your location in Christ should guide the choices you make, even when choosing who to vote for.

He asked, “As a Christian what goes into your decision when deciding who to vote for.”

Pityana also spoke about social justice. He raised an issue with the levels of poverty in South Africa and put the blame at the door of those who are greedy and are living beyond their means. He said President Jacob Zuma is one person who is living beyond his means because he has access to state resources. The Professor felt that poverty can be eliminated if we deal with the issue of greed.

He said: “Poverty is the worst of crimes. It is not the poor who are criminals but those who make others poor by stealing from them.” 

What was clear from listening to delegates in this consultation is that the status quo we have in South Africa cannot be allowed to continue. Professor Pityana said that although the Church cannot dictate concerning people’s choice in the elections a person must be guided by God’s word and not by emotions or sentiment, as has been the case in the past. 


  1. Indeed, the Church should stand up and be a voice of the voiceless and pass a prophetic message against social injustice!

  2. I am quite amazed & concerned at the misunderstanding of what ‘theology’ really is, as is evidenced in this post!I am also grappling with the noise on how Christians of another shade voted in the past & how a different shade votes Now!As Christians we may be in this ungodly kingdom but our King & our kingdom is Not of this world. It is an absolute antithesis for a Christian to embrace democracy or any of these pagan entities particularly as all embrace all things unChristian. Amen.

  3. Yes its amazing how we Chistians continue to vote for those who take the name of the Lord invain. Brethren let’s wake up

  4. As Christian Citizens.Lets take a stand for JESUS !! KING OF KINGS, LORD OF LORDS. Lets vote for a CHRISTIAN GOVERMENT.

  5. On this matter, church leadership in South Africa, our Pastors and Teachers in particular, communicate and have embraced the age old lie of not including Christ in the governing of a nation – i.e., ‘you do not mix Christianity with politics’.

    The truth is that unless we do that, embrace Christ in the governing of South Africa, promote and inform the church of the urgent need of this, the demise of our nation, and shortly if I may add, is inevitable.

    Here is a warning we do well to heed, both the church and leadership: ‘Sensible people will see trouble coming and avoid it, but an unthinking person will walk right into it and regret it later’. Proverbs 27:12 Good News Bible

  6. There is a difference between the church(as perceived by brethren) and the church of the Kingdom of God.The former is still practicing ordinances, rituals, traditions etc that are contrary to the grace that is in abundance in the latter.For ease of reference look up Revelations 18:4-24.

  7. We have a Representative Democracy where our voices are only heard every 5 years, we need a change to a Direct Democracy like they have in Switzerland where we can shape the future by our choices, where politicians are prevented from abusing their power.

  8. In the past we used votes to push apartheid away. We forgot that the heart of men is the source of the problem. Now do we suggest that we use votes to push away corruption? I cannot make one mistake twice. I choose to confront the heart of men now.