OPINION

Zuma's remarks explained - ANC Chaplain General

Vukile Mehana says opposition lack broad understanding of concept of heaven

ANC CHAPLAIN-GENERAL IN DEFENCE OF PRESIDENT ZUMA

Amid the reigning debate sparked by remarks made by African National Congress (ANC) President Jacob Zuma over the weekend, the ANC Office of the Chaplain-General would like to give clarity on the Biblical and theological context in the use of the words "heaven" and "hell".

We also fully share the ANC view that the expression used by the President was figurative - similar to other popular phrases like "marriage made in heaven", "heavenly voices" and "sweets from heaven" -and also find it important that we further explain the Biblical context.  While the popular Christian understanding of heaven is equated to a physical place, theologically heaven can also mean the presence of God.

When the President urged citizens to vote for the ANC, equating that with heaven, he meant that voters - theologically may miss the opportunity of being in the presence of God if they do not vote for the ANC. The alarm and the hullabaloo by African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP) leader, Kenneth Meshoe, Democratic Alliance leader Helen Zille and others over the President's metaphoric expression, should be viewed as nothing else but lack of broad understanding of the concept of heaven.

In using the word "hell," the President did not mean eternal damnation of anybody, but missing an opportunity of being in heaven in a theological sense.  The ANC - as a movement that was born on the alter - respects all forms of religion, and its President has not and will never insult such an important social force of our people. 

Statement issued by Rev Dr Vukile Mehana, African National Congress Chaplain-General, February 7 2011

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