For centuries Christians have been obsessed with Crucifixion.
As if Christianity has the monopoly on this activity.
Which isn’t true.
The crucifixion of Christ was not such a rare occasion or unique occurence.
At the time crucifixion was a pretty general practice utilized to discourage offenders from perpetuating certain behaviour.
The uniqueness of Christ’s crucifixion lies not in the fact that he was crucified, but in the fact that he claimed to be the Son of God and his followers claimed that he was raised from death & taken up into the heavens.
Still – Christians obsess over crucifixion.
Crosses are placed upon Churches & hills, worn around necks & imprinted on pens & notebooks.
I always thought this was unique to South Africa, or even more remote, unique to South African Protestantism, but discovered differently.
He is bruised & bleeding.
He is a student of theology at the University of the Freestate. In his 5th year of study. He is one of the organizers of a Church Camp for first year students. In South Africa many students are getting ready to start their academic career. They’ve finished high school & are privileged enough to move on to University where they hope to acquire a skill which would enable them to build a meaningful career through which they may not only care for their families, but also contribute to the society of which they are a part.
I wonder how many people consider their role & purpose, beyond earning money & providing for their immediate family?
I wonder this especially in a South African context where white students still have access to greater wealth & better education, almost two decades after apartheid was abolished.
It is a white student who ends up in hospital.
The kids at his camp where predominantly white kids.
They are members of the Dutch Reformed Church.
The Church which justified apartheid for many decades.
The Church which struggles to reinvent itself two decades later.
I think this is important to note.
What this almost qualified theologian did, speaks to Christianity in the hearts of white South Africans.
The young man & his camp-crew re-enacted the crucifixion of Christ.
He himself impersonated Christ.
Hence the bruises & bleeding.
He believes it was a deep spiritual experience.
To be Christ.
To feel the pain.
But he wasn’t Christ, off course.
Had he been Christ, he would have been at the mortuary instead of the hospital.
It reeks of Charles Manson & David Koresh.
Which is interesting – a few years ago, Evangelical Christendom was very excited about a Mel Gibson Film, which did exactly what this boy did.
It conjured images of pain & suffering, intended to solicit a deep emotional response, from which individuals can be manipulated into al sorts of behaviour.
The most important of which, it seems, would be to pray ‘the sinner’s prayer’ & claim salvation.
I cannot relate to this kind of Christianity.
It does not speak to me.
That someone, who has studied theology for almost six years, could facilitate such a cheap and superficial manipulation, speaks volumes.
About the substance of this version of Christianity.
About the intention of Christianity.
About the value thereof.
About the Christ the worship.
I wonder if their God is mute?
That they need to replace his whispering with emotional manipulation.
I wonder if their God is immature?
That they need to serve emotional blackmail in order to get people to abide by him.
I know this – the God I share life with, or rather, the God whom shares life with me, is of a different kind.
I cannot describe this God – immensity cannot be verbalized.
But I do know this God isn’t insecure.
This God does not need me.
This God never manipulates.
And isn’t fickle.
I’ll take my chances in this relationship.