Ask Mahlatse Mashua (September 10-14, 2018)


(Carson Weitnauer) #1

Hi friends,

@Mahlatse_Mashua is available to answer your questions! My brother is from the warm land of South Africa, though I much prefer visiting in the summer than the winter! I understand his beautiful country is starting to pop into the spring season. My love for his region of the world aside (my wife is from Lesotho), it is a true privilege to feature this opportunity for us to engage with a passionate evangelist and experienced apologist.

Please ask your heartfelt apologetic and evangelistic questions. It will be a blessing to you and to everyone who else who follows along with the conversation. I look forward to learning myself!


Mahlatse Mashua’s bio:

Mahlatse Mashua is currently the Director of RZIM in Africa and a member of the organization’s global speaking team.

He studied biochemistry at the University of KwaZulu Natal before serving as a pastor and elder at Every Nation Church Durban where he was also involved with training the congregation in evangelism and discipleship.

He later studied at the Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics. He is passionate about exploring the conversation about faith and culture, through surveying how people answer the big questions of life. As an itinerant speaker, he enjoys giving talks on several themes including the interface between Christian apologetics, justice, conflict resolution, and race relations.

Mahlatse is married to Lusanda and they live in Cape Town with their three beautiful girls.

(Bill Brander) #2

Great, thank you Carson.

Molo Mahlatse, my question is around syncretism which is practiced here by many friends and colleagues too. (The latter still shocks me.)

How do you defend the faith in Jesus Christ and him alone - no ancestors or muti or animal sacrifices?



PS do you ever come to East London?

(Omar Rushlive Lozada Arellano) #3

Hello @Mahlatse_Mashua, grace and peace to you.

Carson mentioned that you enjoy giving talks on several themes, which includes conflict resolution and race relations. Can you please expound a bit on those talks, like the question on why those themes are relevant in your country’s discourse? And also a bit about how you share to people on how to address those issues.

(Bill Brander) #4

There are at least two YouTube videos which I have watched.


(Mahlatse Mashua) #5

Greetings @omnarchy, grace and peace to you! Thank you for your question.

  1. Some of the topics that I’ve been speaking on relate to our troubled history in the general, trying to make a case for Christ in our social narratives. I believe that if we see and treat people like Jesus did, a lot of our social issues can be solved. “Moving from our shared troubled past to a shared hopeful future” would be an example of such a talk that addresses the current social tensions due to lived realities caused largely by our apartheid past.

  2. As it relates to apologetics in particular. For many Africans, the advent of Christianity was also the advent of colonialism and dehumanising racism. If you ask people (as I have many times) a similar question that Jesus asked his disciples (“who do people say I am?”), you might get some of these responses:

  • Jesus is the colonial ideological tool that was used to disrupt African civilisation and progress, a tool that used to bastardize Africa and conveniently position her as an underdog in world history and in her own home.
  • Jesus is the single most threat to dismantling the painful lived realities that were built by a history of prejudice because in the name of Christ we are told, let us just move on.
  • Jesus is someone who has everything to say about my black soul, but nothing to say about black bodies
  • Jesus is the thing that Christians pray to with their eyes closed (so that they don’t see society) and with their arms folded (so that they don’t see themselves as an answer to a prayer)
  • Jesus is the god of my colonisers. You see, we had the land and they had the Bible, they taught us how to pray, when we opened our eyes, we had the Bibles and they had the land.
  • Jesus is something that was spoken in a language that was not my own, a language I was told was spoken by real human beings. If I wanted to be human, I would speak like them.

Approach to responding (outline):

  • Take time to understand people’s experience and their current pain. Seek to understand.
  • Don’t defend the wrong thing. A “jesus” was preached in an unjust way that devastated communities, you don’t have to defend this idol.
  • By way of storytelling, contrast the “jesus” that people have experienced with the real Jesus of the Scriptures and in your life so that he stands out beautifully and is presented as the Good news.

Feel free to ask more.

(Mahlatse Mashua) #6

Molo @billbrander! Great to hear from you. I don’t visit East London enough (sad to say), but I should!

  1. One needs to understand it (listening to insider voices). Learn what the Scriptures say about it. Here is a research paper that I’ve found helpful towards this end:

  2. Humility. This is extremely important if one is seeking to do more than just defend, but also to win someone over to the Gospel or get them to at least consider where you are coming from. We need to see people that we are called to love and serve (in their context) with the Gospel.

  3. Prudence (relevant facts, prayer and common sense). Even with the Scriptures that clearly say that Ancestralism and Biblical Christianity are not compatible (mutually exclusive), there are a host of applications that one cannot just pull from the Scriptures and one needs God’s wisdom in order to know how to apply them in each and every unique situation. Prayer is vital.

(Omar Rushlive Lozada Arellano) #7

Thank you so much. I appreciate your answers, @Mahlatse_Mashua, and your willingness for more questions. I do feel that to be equipped in how to answer regarding this type of issue is needed. In a university where we are doing ministry, I attended a talk about anthropology before, and when the topic is about the West, and about colonialism and imperialism, they always relate it with Christianity, then they use it as an evidence to say why Christianity is destructive.

In light of that, I’m curious. Can you please give me a specific example in your country, like an accusation or objection against Christianity, which is an idol “jesus” that you did not defend. Then how were you able to contrast the idol with the real Jesus, so that you would be able to present Him beautifully for them to see the Good News?

(Bill Brander) #8

Wow! Was Jesus a colonist tool?

Mahlatse, as I read your response I have to admit that EFF came to mind here.

I must confess that although “white” I was assigned a congregation in a location. My experience with them was both fulfilling and insightful. I never had a hint that Jesus was seen in any other light but saviour. And I like to think that I was accepted by them. (They called me, Mofokeng.)

So your input is shocking and uncomfortable.


(Carson Weitnauer) #9

Hi Mahlatse,

Can you discuss church culture for us? What kinds of things do you assess to see if a church has an evangelistic culture? If a church doesn’t have an evangelistic culture, what do they need to do to change the culture of their church? Any stories or experience on this would be very helpful.

(Drew Henriksen) #10

Hey, I’m a high school student in Georgia. I’ve recently been trying to figure out the philosophy and reasoning behind why I should trust reality IE why is this reality, how can I trust there are others just like me, why solipsism and illusion don’t make sense etc. I think I’ve figured out my answer by thinking about it but was wondering if you have any perspective on it that may help me? Thank you

(Tim) #11

Hi brother, can Christian believe big bang theory? If means how ?

(Chris Leskiw) #12

Hi Mr Mashua,

After reading the Bible I am left with a question. What is the Devil’s motivation for his evil? I am wondering if and how my short comings relate.

Much thanks for your and RZIM’s work as it has been significant aid to my faith.

(Josephine Dearsley) #13

Hello brothers,
As a Christian what is your opinion on organ donation? Is it right to take part in or is it considered seizing autonomy and interfering with His plan?
Thank you in advance. Love and peace to all

(Isaiah J. Armstrong) #14

What are the top ten Christian theology/ apologetics books in your opinion? Which authors should I check out and which ones should I avoid (either too confusing, misleading, or easily misunderstood)?

I love to read theology books and have read a number of great ones, but I would like some guidance in what read, whether it’s trustworthy or misleading false prophets.

I’m asking the question again because I never got a reply.

(Mahlatse Mashua) #15

Hey Omar, thank you for your follow up question.

  1. White Jesus. A lot of paintings of Jesus here depict him as being white. This is particularly a sensitive issue. During apartheid, a “social pecking order” was established using race as a measure of worth, placing black at the bottom and white on top. Furthermore “whiteness” (colour and culture) was communicated as a standard that black people needed to aspire to. So a lot of people developed a view of Jesus as a white Jesus who could not identify with them (foreign). This jesus, was certainly the jesus that some missionaries preached, that the some Christians in SA who gave theological support to apartheid preached, but is not the Jesus of the Scriptures. So telling stories of Jesus in his Jewish context (imbedded and transcending) and his attitudes towards everyone else who did not come from his cultural context helps to enlarge the questioner’s view of Jesus’ mission and the broadness of the invitation to all nations.

  2. The Gospel was often heard in a way that was also wrapped in Western culture. So in order to be Christian, one also had to reject some aspects of their cultural expression that did not necessarily conflict with Scriptural truths (dress code, music instruments, celebrations etc) and take on their Western expressions. So when the conversation around “decolonisation” takes place, people are usually rejecting a “jesus” who is against all aspects of African cultures. So again, framing the Gospel in its cultural context (e.g Galatians 1:11-13 ffg) is a helpful entry into not only preaching Jesus (the cultural converter) alongside “jesus” (the cultural destroyer), but also helpfully explaining the relationship between Jesus and culture.

(Mahlatse Mashua) #16

Hi @billbrander, thanks for your question to clarify.

  1. No, Jesus was not a colonial tool. He is the second person of the Trinity, my Lord and Saviour. I was saying that this is how some people perceive him because of how Christians have preached him. So the rest of my bullet points about how people have responded to me when I’ve asked them the question “who do you think Jesus is?” relate to that as well. Their answers reflect their experience of Christianity or of Christians, which of course is not who Jesus is as he is revealed in the Scriptures.

I will leave the EFF link out of this response (because i think your response to me was out of a place of misunderstanding of response to @omnarchy).

(Mahlatse Mashua) #17

Hi @Drew_H_apologetics, thank you for your great question.

I’ve read a few helpful things about this topic ( but I must confess that this is not an area that I have particularly worked on. I do however have some Christian friends that have at various academic levels engaged with this and would love to connect you with them. Please email me on [email protected]

Thank you again for your great question.

(Mahlatse Mashua) #18

Hi Tim, appreciate the question.

In my understanding, the Big bang theory does not explain why the universe came into being. It does not explain where the universe came into being. It consists of models that (propose to) describe the “expansion fo the universe from its original point before which nothing existed”. I therefore think one could legitimately consider a proposed model of the big bang as a description of the mechanism that God used in the process of creating the world. Models that seem to erase God as the agent of the creation of the universe are incompatible with Biblical Christianity (Gen 1:1).

Here is a helpful talk by William Lane Craig on this. (

(Mahlatse Mashua) #19

Hi @Wiksel,

This is a really good and deep question that i’ve been wondering myself. I still don’t have an adequate answer for how the devil’s first desire for evil came about. I don’t think we have this in the Bible as it begins with the presence of his desire for evil, but not it’s explanation. There are some helpful hints in the Bible that paint a picture of the devil (adversary) and his works as an intelligent personal spirit opposing all that God is doing, and is committed to destruction.

There are some texts that have been used to explain Satan’s origin (Isaiah 14:12-15 and Ezekiel 28:12-19), where one is about the King of Babylon and the other about the city of Tyre, both coming under God’s judgement. In the New Testament, 2 Peter 2:4 and Jude 6 are helpful.

Here is an interesting article by John Piper that might help with your second question:

(Mahlatse Mashua) #20

Hey @O_wretched_man,

Here is a link of some books that we recommend as a ministry.

Some of my personal favourites also include Orthodoxy (Chesterton), The pursuit of Holiness (J Bridges), AW Tozer books, Andrew Murray books, JI Packer.

Often I read books that are recommended and follow the Bibliography at the end.