Jesus had HIV

There is an interesting Christological debate going on in Africa right now. The BBC News on a sermon series that is stirring up controversy in African churches:

"Today I will start with a three-part sermon on: Jesus was HIV-positive," South African Pastor Xola Skosana recently said in a Sunday church service.

The words initially stunned his congregation in Cape Town's Khayelitsha township into silence, and then set tongues wagging in churches across the country.

Some Christians have been outraged, saying he is portraying Jesus as sexually promiscuous.

HIV is mainly transmitted through sex, but can also be spread through needle-sharing, contaminated blood, pregnancy and breastfeeding.

However, as Pastor Skosana told those gathered in the modest Luhlaza High School hall for his weekly services, in many parts of the Bible Jesus put himself in the position of the destitute, the sick and the marginalised.

"Wherever you open the scriptures Jesus puts himself in the shoes of people who experience brokenness. Isaiah 53, for example, clearly paints a picture of Jesus who takes upon himself the infirmities and the brokenness of humanity," he told the BBC.
Some African clergy disagree strongly with Pastor Skosana:
...Pastor Mike Bele, who officiates at the Nomzamo Baptist Church in nearby Gugulethu, said most clergy in Khayelitsha and other Cape Town townships are strongly opposed to associating Jesus with HIV.

"The subject of my Jesus being HIV-positive is a scathing matter," he says.

"I believe no anointed leader with a sound mind about the scriptures and the role of Christ in our lives would deliberately drag the name of Christ to the ground."

For Pastor Bele portraying Jesus as HIV-positive means he becomes part of the problem, not the solution.

"The pastor needs to explain how it came about for him to bring Christ to our level, when Christ is supreme and is God," he says.
But many African church leaders are supportive of Pastor Skosana:
Amid the controversy, Reverend Siyabulela Gidi, the director of South African Council of Churches in the Western Cape, has come out in support of Pastor Skosana, saying his standpoint is theologically correct.

"What Pastor Skosana is clearly saying is that Christ at this point in time would be on the side of the people who are HIV-positive - people who are being sidelined by the very church that is attacking him," the Anglican priest says.

"Pastor Skosana has fortunately got the country talking, he's got the world talking and that is what theology is all about."

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