Why Christians Were Involved in the Rwandan Genocide – by Eliezer Gonzalez

Feb 7, 2016 1029

Rwandan GenocideDuring an approximate 100-day period from April 7 to mid-July 1994, an estimated 500,000–1,000,000 of the people of Rwandans were killed, constituting as much as 70% of the Tutsi and 20% of Rwanda’s total population. This was the genocidal mass slaughter of the Tutsi minority and moderate Hutu, by members of the Hutu majority – a large number of them Christians.

The horrific reality is that those who rose up to barbarously hack their neighbours to death were Christians of all persuasions – both Protestant and Catholic. I have asked someone who knows what the members of one particular prominent denomination who were involved in perpetrating the slaughter were like before the event. I was told, “Very fundamentalist and legalistic.” I then asked what they were like after the event. I was told, “Very fundamentalist and legalistic.” Has nothing been learnt?

How can this be? While the answer is complex, the answer is also simple. It is because we Christians have too often spent our energies indoctrinating people, rather than “gospellising” them.

The word “evangelism” has the same meaning as “gospelism,” since evangel is just a Greek root for Gospel. I know that the words “gospelism” and “gospellisation” don’t actually exist in English. But I am using them to make a point.

Sometimes we have focused so much on teaching people propositional truths, and standards of lifestyle, that we have forgotten that the most important thing that we have been called to teach is the gospel. We have filled people with doctrine and standards until they have gagged on them, yet we have not taught them what Christ meant when he said to the Jews,

…go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners – Matt. 9:13.

If the churches in Rwanda had taught their people the meaning of this, there would possibly never have been a genocide.

In terms of priorities, God does not call us to be rooted and grounded in knowledge and standards. God does not call us to comprehend all doctrine, or to know all prophecy. Here is what God calls us to do as our first duty:

that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height— 19 to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God – Eph 3:17–19.

As representatives of Christ, to do otherwise is criminal in the sight of God. The world has seen what it leads to. Truly did Christ say of this kind of religion,

Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel land and sea to win one proselyte, and when he is won, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves – Matthew 25:15.

But let’s not look at others. What about you my friend? Right now, that is the more important question. Have you been truly gospellised? Or have you merely been indoctrinated?

– Eliezer Gonzalez

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