Monday, April 12, 2010

Desmond Tutu, on Goodness

Archbishop Desmond Tutu is a highly respected man, a winner of the Nobel Peace Prize for his work against apartheid in Africa, a worker for the helpless, the hungry, the hopeless. He has written a new book called Made for Goodness.

The April 2 issue of The United Methodist Reporter features an interview with Tutu’s daughter, Mpho Tutu, who is herself an Episcopal priest, a woman of distinction who helps the needy; she is the chair emeritus of the board of the Global AIDS Alliance.

In the interview, Mary Jacobs asked Ms. Tutu this question:

In (his) book, your father says: “We are tuned to the key of goodness. That is not to deny evil; it is to face evil squarely. We can face evil squarely because we know that evil will not have the last word.” Aren’t some people evil? How can we believe that we are all good when we see the horror that humans inflict upon one another?

Ms. Tutu answered:

He would say that no one is inherently evil . . . . that we are not born as sinners in need of saving; instead we are saints in need of seeing. We need to see who we really are and live into the truth of who we are.

Jacobs asked:

Not born sinners? Aren’t you contradicting a key statement of Christian faith?

Tutu answered:

I would say that we are not so much contradicting it as seeing it differently.

I have to respectfully agree with Ms. Jacobs’ assessment. The Bible clearly says we are all sinners from birth. We all need saving from ourselves. I think Archbishop Tutu is a wonderful man who has known and lived in the righteousness of God for such a long time that perhaps he has forgotten. That is one of the dangers we have to guard against.

We can’t forget that we need help to get out of the pit of self. Otherwise, why did Jesus Christ have to die on the cross?

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