Author: Schulter Etyang

Are you a good Christian? Why you might need to rethink that term

5 min read Ever heard of this term ‘good Christian’? A term used to define good, intelligent and morally upright people. Sometimes used to mock Christians or even identity one Christian from another Christian—especially when non-Christians encounter Christians of dodgy character. It’s a term pervasively used that some believe it originated from the Christian scriptures. It’s one of those words like ‘Trinity’ used to explain the relationship between Father, Son and Holy Spirit. There is no such word in the Bible, however, we use the word to describe a relationship in words that fit the human experience. The same with the term good Christian.  If you read this post and are a Christian, I bet you think you are a good Christian—someone who is morally upright, good, honest, you faithfully obey the teachings of Jesus, you go to Church regularly, you tithe, you pay your taxes; you are faithful to your wife and kids; you obey the laws of your country; you are generous to the poor, the widow, orphan and immigrant, you pay your employees …

100% Black or White owned?

2 min read This week, a new 24-hour news channel went live on DSTV channel 405 here in South Africa. The company is being described as a 100% Black-owned channel. This description “100% Black-owned” caught my attention. It always does but not for the reasons you might think.  100% Black-owned? What does this mean?  Does it mean that it is only Black people who own and run this business? If so, will they attribute the success or failure of this business to the fact it is 100% Black-owned? If Black-owned, does this mean they won’t be able to consult other races for input in running the business? Can a qualified White, Indian or Colored presenter work for the business? When the business needs a capital injection (which it will need), can a White, Indian or Colored person make this investment? If this business accepts this capital injection, will that be construed as diverging from the core identity of the business? Can White people claim their business is 100% White-owned? Do White-owned businesses succeed or fail because they are 100% White-owned? Notice …

Paul F. M Zahl’s book, Grace in Practice: A Theology of Everyday Life – Part 5: On why the world and religious people have​ a hard time with grace

2 min read It is not only the world that detests grace. The Christian world also finds the absolution of grace to be a bitter pill. Every time you preach or embody grace, some Christians will accuse you of “antinomianism,” the idea that you are against the law. At the root of the finger pointing is the fear that if grace is given to a sinner, the sinner is going to take advantage of the amnesty and do a bad thing. This is the fear of antinomianism, the conviction that grace equals permissiveness. On this view, grace is against the law. Why do religious people have a hard time with grace? Why do religious people have a hard time with grace? People come to faith during times of trouble. Even if they grew up in church or had a religious experience as a teenager, they usually come to faith during a period of trouble. A specific problem in life leads them to question or to look at God in a new way. Sometimes it prompts …

Paul F. M Zahl’s book, Grace in Practice: A Theology of Everyday Life – Part 4: On original sin and imputation

1 min read Original sin is the idea that every woman and every man who has ever been born is infected in their DNA with a tendency to think the wrong and do the wrong. Original sin is the universal tendency in people to look out solely for themselves to such an extent that when they are on the defensive they become violent and libidinal.  Grace is listening to another person without bringing the conversation back to you. Original sin is listening to the other and compulsively, unconsciously bringing it back to you. You can’t help yourself. Perhaps you have never even thought about it this way. This taking turns talking is an automatic-pilot response. The fact that it is unconscious makes it a prime example of original sin.

Paul F. M Zahl’s book, Grace in Practice: A Theology of Everyday Life – Part 3: On Justification and Substitutionary atonement

5 min read …human beings need to be justified, which means that human beings need to live a non-accused life. They need to have the certainty that before God they are innocent.  By raising this perfectly innocent man, whom we understand to be the perfect expression of God, and by putting that man between us and our irrefutable accusation, God “justifies” us. Thus Jesus our Lord … was handed over to death for our trespasses and was raised for our justification” (Romans 4:24-25) What this theology of everyday life seeks to emphasize is the grace of the first Easter, by which our helpless need as pathetic, predatory human beings is given a remedy. Grace justification preaches! It preaches to the abandoned and those who pant for mercy. It preaches to criminals and perpetrators. It preaches to victims and to women. It preaches to children and to the oppressed pressed poor. It preaches to oppressors and abusers. It preaches to people caught in the act. It is thoroughly non-partisan, non-sectarian, and nonethnic. It tears down denial. …

Paul F. M Zahl’s, Grace in Practice: A Theology of Everyday Life – Part 2: On grace and the love of God

3 min 25 sec read What is grace? Grace is love that seeks you out when you have nothing to give in return. Grace is love coming at you that has nothing to do with you. Grace is being loved when you are unlovable. It is being loved when you are the opposite of loveable. The cliche definition of grace is “unconditional love.” Grace is a love that has nothing to do with you, the beloved. It has everything and only to do with the lover. Grace is irrational in the sense that it has nothing to do with weights and measures. It has nothing to do with my intrinsic qualities or so-called “gifts” (whatever they may be). It reflects a decision on the part of the giver, the one who loves, in relation to the receiver, the one who is loved, that negates any qualifications the receiver may personally hold. Grace is one-way love.

Paul F. M Zahl’s, Grace in Practice: A Theology​ of Everyday Life – Part one: On the Law

3 min read In 2018, I stumbled on Paul Zahl’s book, Grace in Practice: A Theology of Everyday Life, and read the book for the whole year. It was the only book I read besides my bible.  Paul’s views on grace and the gospel are weighty. Many times I had to wrestle with his views on grace because they are otherworldly – too good to be true and impractical. The adage “Too heavenly minded, No earthly good” kept on ringing in my head. And yet, I kept on reading.  Paul Zahl gives us a lofty view of what grace is, and yes, he gives you a heavenly view if you will be of any earthly good. Grace is lofty, heavenly and otherworldly. And grace helps you live in this base, restless, and evil world. Grace is in this world but not of this world.  I thought I should share quotes from his book. 

Bring out treasures new and old

5 min read Then He said to them, “Therefore every scribe instructed concerning the kingdom of heaven is like a householder who brings out of his treasure things new and old. Matthew 13:52 (NKJV) Matthew 13 introduces us for the first time to the Greek word parabole. In Matthew 13, Jesus for the first time speaks in parables to his audience. Why not speak in plain language to them? It was an invitation to them to find out more—to go on a journey of discovery—to go deeper in search of meaning. His disciples got the cue card and did exactly that. They pulled him to the side and asked what the parables meant. The parables prompted the enquiry.  The point of this post is not to unearth what the parables mean but rather to point out how teaching in the New Covenant should look like.

Will a loving God send people to hell?

4 min 11 sec read Inevitably as a Christian, this question will be posed to you—will a loving God send people to hell? The assumption beneath this question is that because God is love, God cannot possibly send people to hell—that love and judgment are incompatible. Let’s examine this question in view of grace. Yes, the Christian faith agrees with this question, somewhat partly. Yes, the Christian faith acknowledges that God is love. In the Christian faith, love is the essence of God and God is the essence of love. (1 John 4:8,16 NLT) God and love are not mutually exclusive things. They are the same. But the Christian faith disagrees with the view that God sends people to hell. The unpalatable truth is this – people send themselves to hell. There is nowhere in the Christian scriptures to show that God sends people to hell. God will not shovel human beings in a wheelbarrow to hell. Human beings send themselves to hell. 

Grace and religious liberty

3 min read This is my short response to an issue that a Christian brother raised on whether Christian ministers in Zambia should pass a government-sanctioned exam to authenticate their callings and ministries.  After all, other areas of expertise have to pass exams to qualify to work in a particular area. My response was as follows Exams are not the issue; the issue is state control. I know with the rise of charlatans and heretics our governments want to protect its citizens from abuse and manipulation. Such is the case with the Bushiri’s here in South Africa. Unfortunately, because religion is inherently personal, such noble ideas by our governments are usually futile. What the Minister of Religious Affairs is doing is an overreaction and overreach. He or she will soon be challenged in the Supreme Court hoping that your courts are impartial, and not loaded with the religious right.