His Death: Making a God of a Man
When Mandela died in December 2013, his ANC went into overdrive to turn the man into a messiah, indeed a god. The world had never witnessed anything like it. No funeral ever conducted was such a spectacle. A ten-day period of mourning was declared by the government, and the world, predictably, jumped on the bandwagon. The worship that occurred during this time was so great that it was utterly nauseating for true South African Christians. It was almost more than could be borne.
First, the government declared the day following his death to be a “day of prayer and reflection.” This, be it remembered, for a man who was a Communist, who by his own admission was not even particularly religious, let alone a Christian. He was not even sure there was an afterlife, saying at one time, “If there be another life beyond this physical world…” But by this time he had been virtually deified by so many millions of religious people.
Next, there was the official memorial service on December 10, held at the giant FNB Stadium in Johannesburg. World leaders jetted in for it – the very scum of the earth: former bloodthirsty terrorists in power in their own countries, dictators, mass murderers. All praised him. As it is true that birds of a feather flock together, a man is known by the company he keeps and those who praise him. This says enough about the kind of man Mandela really was.
Next, Mandela’s body lay in state for a few days at the Union Buildings in Pretoria, where tens of thousands of people came to view his remains.
Finally, on December 15 he was buried, with all the pomp and ceremony of a state funeral, at his ancestral home of Qunu, in the Eastern Cape province.
In South Africa throughout this entire period, there was wall-to-wall coverage in the news media, amounting to a literal blackout of all other news. It was as if the world had come to a standstill; as if nothing else was occurring anywhere in the world. TV coverage was total. The story of Mandela was broadcast continually, every single day, all day (and night) long. News readers wore black. Newspapers’ mastheads were printed in black. Mandela was the sole topic of every newspaper, whether it was the front page, the inside pages, the business section, the sports section. If there were wars occurring elsewhere, if there was anything occurring elsewhere, South Africans knew nothing of it unless they saw something on the internet. It was a massive, orchestrated, utterly shameless, openly idolatrous glorification of the man. He ceased in fact to be a mere man, and became a Christ-figure, a messiah, a god.
This was evident in the tributes that poured in. One of the cards laid outside Mandela’s Johannesburg home said: “He is going to rule the universe with God. He is definitely going to rest in peace because he is peace.” Truly this person viewed Mandela as a messiah, for only the Lord Jesus Christ rules the universe with God the Father, and only Christ is the Prince of peace, and peace itself.
One woman, Julia Denny-Dimitriou, an assistant Anglican priestess (as she should be called) in Hilton, South Africa, wrote of him as follows: “As one of the privileged possessors of the earth, how do I live out a commitment to the underprivileged and dispossessed? Look at Mandela. What does it mean to live an authentic life? Look at Mandela. How do I act with conscience? Look at Mandela. If he could do it, so can I, and so can we. No wonder he has been compared to Jesus Christ, he is certainly as well known…. I cannot imagine this country without Madiba. He symbolises all the conflicts, struggles, hopes, dreams and personal heartaches of this nation, corporate and individual. He represents not only all that is best about us and in us, but also all our natural shortcomings. Bereft, what am I going to do without him? What are we going to do without him?” This foolish woman wrote of him as if he were the Christ, the Messiah, the Hope of the world. Christians, in all the perplexities of life, look to the Lord Jesus Christ (Heb. 12:2: “Looking unto Jesus…”); but this woman, a spiritually blind leader of the spiritually blind, looked to Mandela. She lamented his passing as one who trusted in him for meaning, for the purpose of life itself.
True Christians have news for this woman. As for what we are going to do without him, here is our answer: precisely what we did before we ever heard his name; precisely what we did when he was sitting in prison, which is where he belonged; and precisely what we did between his release and his death. We will be serving the true Christ of God, the holy, harmless, undefiled Lord Jesus Christ. Mandela was never our icon, our hero, our Messiah, and never will be. As for him being as well known as Christ, well, he may be as well known as her “christ”, for her “christ” is a false christ; her “christ” is that “other Jesus” of whom the Scriptures warn (2 Cor. 11:4); and there are plenty of such false “christs” in the world. She preaches one of them every time she stands in a pulpit, in direct violation of God’s Word. But her substitute christ, her idol, her beloved Mandela, has now met the true Christ of God, the omniscient, omnipotent Christ; and he has heard the sentence passed on him. And it is not what she thinks.
During the days following Mandela’s death, the blasphemy continued around the country. Millions of South Africans actually sang hymns in honour of Mandela, in church buildings, mosques, temples, synagogues and elsewhere. Innumerable examples could be given of the blasphemies uttered even by so-called “pastors”, as they spoke of him as virtually equal with Christ Himself. Vusi Dube, pastor of a Charismatic megachurch, the Durban Christian Centre, said: “As a church, Mandela has done and taught us a lot. But the major thing he taught us was forgiveness, something that is not easy for us Christians. Nelson Mandela lived forgiveness.” Imagine this – a man claiming to be a Christian pastor, actually saying that it required a man like Mandela to teach Christians the meaning of forgiveness! Never mind the fact that the entire Bible which he professes to preach and teach is full of the doctrine of forgiveness – no, Christians (according to him) could not be taught this by the Holy Scriptures, by the Lord Himself through the Scriptures, they had to wait for Nelson Mandela to supposedly teach it to them! What blasphemy. What wolves in sheep’s clothing occupied the pulpits of the land. False “churches” abounded, false “pastors” preached, false “Christians” praised – not Christ, but Nelson Mandela.
In Cape Town, the Anglican dean of St George’s Cathedral, Michael Weeder, said: “as he dies, he lives again and again. He is resurrected in every act of kindness.” In spouting such blasphemy, this spiritually blind man made a mockery of the true, physical resurrection of Christ, using classic “liberation theology” tactics to teach the heresy that the “resurrection” of Mandela occurs each time someone performs an act of kindness!
And lastly (though so many more similar statements could be given), Zwelinzima Vavi, the suspended general secretary of Cosatu, the giant South African trade union organisation, referred to Mandela as a “supernatural human.” Yes, Nelson Mandela, both during his lifetime and even more after his death, was (and will continue to be) elevated above mankind, transformed into a god.
Truly, this world’s sins are a stench to the Lord, and the world is crying out for judgment. It is coming, of that we can be certain. And it deserves all that is coming upon it for all its sins, to which it has added the blasphemy of deifying a sinful human being, Nelson Mandela, to all the rest. Mandela is worshipped by millions, yet the Lord Jesus Christ – holy, harmless, undefiled – is hated by the same world that deifies a terrorist. God is not mocked. The world will reap what it has sown.