Problem is not unbelievers but nominal believers


This past Sunday evening I participated in a radio debate with two other panelists and the subject matter was ‘Christianity and the consultation of ancestors.’ On the panel with me was a gentleman who represented African traditional religion (ATR) and a Christian minister who advocated for the idea that there is nothing untoward with Christians who venerate the dead. The gentleman representing ATR was articulate and clear on the tenets of his religion. He agreed with me that heaven and hell are concepts that do not exist in ATR and that in their spiritual hierarchy Jesus does feature.

Proper adherents of ATR never pretend to be Christians and do not mix their religion with Christianity. My contribution in the programme was to bring a biblical position on the veneration of the dead and I am glad that this is one of those subjects the Bible is not silent on. The Scriptures expressly prohibit this practice and in fact call it an abomination to God. Therefore you would expect that those who represent God would articulate His position on issues, right?

Sadly what we have in South Africa are Christians who view the world in a manner that is at odds with how God views it but still refer to Him as someone who is sovereign and all-knowing. How do we deal with this kind of contradiction? As things stand we are told that over 70% of South Africans are Christians but there is hardly any sign of this in the social fibre of our nation. In fact countries with a miniscule Christian population fare much better than us.

The problem of South Africa is nominal Christianity that does not go beyond mere lip service and this was what was abundantly clear from the contribution of the fellow radio panelist who advocated for the mixing of Christianity with elements of African religion. What was strange about this minister, who is advanced in years, is the fact that he did not quote one Scripture in the two hour discussion. And I should also mention that he came to the radio station dressed in the distinctive regalia normally worn by reverends.

During the discussion I had to restrain myself from calling him a hypocrite and disgrace to the Gospel but some listeners who called in did not spare his feelings. They put in to him that his position was untenable and tantamount to mixing water and paraffin, which are things that do not mix. And the idea really behind syncretism is trying to mix a belief that originates from the earth with the one that originates from Heaven.

Christianity cannot compare to any religion or any culture for that matter. It is superior to culture and can never be subservient to it. Therefore reclassifying an abomination like necromancy as culture does not make it acceptable to God. It is not only in the area of culture that Christians are found wanting when it comes to having a Biblical worldview but also in politics, economics, etc. Somehow we think there are areas where man has more authority than God.

I think the greatest challenge we have today is not the people who do not believe in God but those who do and yet live their lives as if He does not exist and His views do not matter. These are Christians who subject truth to the whims of denominational, racial or political considerations. My parting shot in the radio programme was that those who consult the dead are sinning against God and my fellow Christian minister was quick to protest that he is not sinning at all when he decides to honor his departed parents by slaughtering an animal for them.

So we are both Christians and yet could not agree on what constitutes sin and sin being a major subject in the Christian Scriptures. It is time we read the Bible afresh.



  1. Thank The Lord for Afrika Mhlophe. May he be used to open up the eyes of those who are blinded from the truth and anoint him to set the captives free.

  2. I thank God for the wisdom He gave you. May God almighty bless and enlarge you Pastor A.

  3. Well done Pr. Afrika. You are so right, our worst enemies are nominal and ‘religious’ Christians who never undergo spiritual transformation and growth. Unfortunately they are in the majority. As Vance Havner once put it, “The devil is not fighting churches today. He’s joining churches.” But God has his 7,000 who have not bowed the knee to Baal.

    • Nominal Christians are really in the majority Errol and I like the quote from Vance Havner. But we can’t be discouraged because there are still some who have not bowed. Blessings

  4. Thank you Ps Afrika for your uncompromising, biblical stance! For those who insist on writing their own bible, may they not protest when the consequences start …

    • It baffles me Barbara as to why someone would call themselves a Christian minister and still insist on deliberately leaving his life in a manner that contradicts his faith. Indeed they would have to face us to the consequences of undermining God’s word.

      • Could it be that ‘discipleship/being a disciple’ has become so unpopular as to be neglected at best and forgotten at worst ? And it starts with the leaders … Discipleship not to be confused with ‘religion/legalism’ – we’ve got enough of those miseries in the church too and don’t need more ! If only we could get the Gospel preached again – and preach it – : ‘disciple’ means ‘to follow’ and Jesus said “Follow Me”. Even a child can understand that but no, we have this compromised, soft soap version nowadays which says ‘as long as you have accepted Jesus as Saviour and are thus born again, you will make it to heaven – there really is no need to acknowledge Him as your Lord; His grace covers all” What a lie and deception ! Apostasy fuelled !

        • Yes we failing in making disciples Barbara. We have made many converts but few disciples. It is mere confession without corresponding actions or change of behaviour. Many have made Him Savior but few have made Him Lord

          • Something just occurred to me that is probably KEY in being disciples. The verse jumped to mind: ” you shall know them by the love they have for one another” and the John 17 chapter. How can we become disciples and submit to His lordship over our lives if we do not know Him? I mean not ‘know about him and acknowledge Him’ even the demons do that … but know Him personally and intimately ?! No one wants to follow rules and regulations but if one has come to know Him, to hear His voice (‘My sheep know My voice’)for oneself, the obedience to His precepts comes naturally as one does not want to HURT the One one loves.
            In this context I think of Alexander Venter (Vineyard pastor in Jozi) who is inspirational in his teachings about intimacy with the Lord.
            It took me years and years to get to know the secret place (Ps 91: 1-2 and Song of Songs Ch 1-8)and to there encounter the Bridegroom and Lord of my life – an I have not yet attained; it’s a journey but oh, there is nothing to compare. David said (paraphrase) : ‘there is one thing I ask of the Lord and that is to dwell in His temple (presence in NT context) all the days of my life’. (Ps 27:4) Amen.
            Thanks so much for this discourse Afrika: it is so very important !! May not one of us have to hear Jesus say (paraphrase) ‘ you did this and that for Me BUT you never KNEW Me. Depart from Me you evil doers.’ (Mt 7:21-23) – Wow !! Terrifying

  5. Spot on Pastor. May God continue to bless you and use you in the mighty that He does. It is clear to me that the minister compromised God’s word and unfortunately when we do that we are in danger of being deceived (Jesus gave a clear warning to His disciples to not be deceived). Once we bend the Truth we have nothing to hold onto as Christains. Bless you my brother.

    • Thanks Colin. At the end the minister really had no leg to stand on. I gave him my book on ancestral veneration and I trust God to work on His heart.

  6. Well Done Pastor! Keep on with your uncompromising position on God’s Word.

  7. The Book of Revelations in its message to the churches warns Christians that those who are luke warm in their faith are an abomination to God, and that He will spit them out,and have nothing to do with them. This is a serious indictment that needs attention.

  8. Well done man of God! May the Lord give His angels charge over you night & day! Truth is what sets the captives free. May your books reach far & wide to help people understand that our God is a jealous God & there is only one road to Him. Not many roads, only one!