The Anglican Church of Rwanda Prior to the Genocide, Part II

In his essay, “Christianity, Revival and the Rwandan Genocide,” Kevin Ward takes a historical look at the East African Revival and the role of the Anglican Church of Rwanda in the genocide of 1994.  The essay is an excellent piece of historical work that should be required reading for everyone in PEAR USA. Ward writes:

Between 1965 and 1990,the Eglise Episcopale au Rwanda (EER) built itself up as a predominantly Hutu church. From being a small group, numerically insignificant, it expanded rapidly, establishing a mass following in the years after independence. The leadership was overwhelmingly Hutu. The relations with the government were close. Protestants were glad that the new regime, while heavily Catholic, was freer with regard to the Protestant churches than during the colonial regime. A close working relationship was formed. By 1992 this had become far too close for the good of the church, especially as Habyarimana’s regime became discredited and was seen as excessively narrowly based on a small clique of Hutu from the north west of Rwanda. Bishop Sebunuguru became closely identified with this regime, as did a large proportion of the bishops and pastors.

Moreover, by 1990, the Anglican church was deeply involved in internal wrangling and divisions. They were focused on jealousies and bitterness between Adoniya Sebununguri, bishop of Kigali, and John Ndandali, bishop of the second diocese of Butare, created in 1978. The conflict was focused on who would become the first Archbishop of the new Anglican province of Rwanda created in 1992. Although personal factors were paramount in this conflict, it did strangely parallel political divisions between the ‘north,’ where the deeply unpopular president came from, and a ‘south,’ which felt excluded. A series of other conflicts among the leadership of the churches began to disfigure the Anglican church: based on personal and family rivalries, regional differences, political disputes (as a multi-party system was introduced). Hutu-Tutsi divisions were only one of many factors fueling and sustaining these disputes.  Often the rhetoric of the Revival was introduced into the disputes. At high-profile meetings of reconciliation, church leaders confessed and sang Tukutenderza in the old spirit of the Balokole [Balokole means ‘saved’ – editor] fellowship, but these occasions did not seem to have the power to transform the faction-riven nature of the church. The form of Revival had replaced its genuine spirit.

One of many interesting takeaways from this essay is that the reconciliation narrative was actually in place prior to the genocide of 94, and was in fact an artifact of the East African Revival (which seems to have been a Keswick phenomenon by the way). The narrative then went national after the 94 genocide and was somewhat stripped of its overtly Christian foundation. Also, this constant harping on reconciliation even prior to the genocide did nothing to avert the genocide or change the behavior of this highly Christianized nation.

Bishop Augustin Ahimana Murekezi Defending Rwanda’s Actions in the DRC

In 2006, Andrew Paquin wrote an article in Christianity Today, part of which said this about Pastor Rick Warren’s connection to Rwanda:

Warren’s relationship with Rwandan President Paul Kagame is also of concern. Kagame was the leader of the rebel Tutsi forces that brought an end to genocide in 1994. Yet as president, he has overseen a military that continues to occupy parts of the Democratic Republic of Congo. Human-rights observers such as Amnesty International and even the U.S. State Department accuse Kagame of not only stripping Congo of its natural resources, but also of mass rape, burning villages, and murdering civilians. Rwandan leaders reject these claims, yet the human-rights community maintains their accuracy.

Years of African corruption in the wake of colonial puppetry have created rifts of distrust between those who are suffering and those with friends in high places. Although Kagame is an improvement from past leaders, his connection to former regimes and to ongoing human-rights concerns should trouble anyone seeking to work with him.

Coming to the defense of Kagame, current Anglican Bishop Augustin Ahimana Murekezi of the Kivu diocese wrote a response in Christianity Today. He said:

It is also our duty to inform American Christians that there has been a malicious campaign to demonize Rwanda’s leaders, distorting the political situation. This distortion emanates from people often hiding behind so-called humanitarian organizations. Some have a hidden agenda of distracting the international community so that their own role in Rwanda’s tragedy cannot be exposed.

When Rwandan troops decided to pursue the genocidal forces and their sponsors in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in 1996 and 1998, they did so in the light of day. The peace we enjoy today in our country is mainly a consequence of that action. When our troops pulled out of DRC in 2002, it was under the intense gaze of international observers and media. So accusing Rwandan troops today of continuing “to occupy parts of the Democratic Republic of Congo” is simply mind-boggling.

Bishop Augustin attributed all the multitude of reports pointing out Kagame’s evil actions to “a malicious campaign to demonize Rwanda’s leaders.” Would he say the same of all the former Rwandan leaders who have defected and told the same stories? They are all liars to a man as well? In fact, his attack on Paquin’s accurate article follows a pattern clearly elucidated by Filip Reyntjens in this paper.
As history has shown since 2006, Rwanda has continued to stir up death and mayhem in the DRC, particularly in the Kivus. In fact, as this week’s Report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo says:

The advance of M23 towards Goma started in earnest on 15 November with an attack on Kibumba, approximately 20 km north of Goma. After some success in pushing back M23 on the first and second days of the offensive with significant and robust support by MONUSCO, which is estimated to have resulted in high casualties to M23, the Congolese armed forces later succumbed to a larger, well-organized and well-supplied force. Following the setback of its first attack on Kibumba, the subsequent speed, efficiency and success of the renewed M23 offensive were rendered possible by a sudden increase in the group’s combatants, coordinated multi-pronged attacks and attacks with coordination between infantry and fire support, all capacities that are not characteristic of former integrated CNDP elements. Furthermore, MONUSCO observations of the command and control ability of the attacking force, the effective coordination of its fire support, the quality of its equipment and its general fighting ability, particularly during night- time, all suggested the existence of external support, both direct and indirect.

Let’s be clear, “external support” means “the Rwandan Army.”
The wars that Bishop Augustin defended involved horrific atrocities, as outlined in the Mapping Exercise report of the UN. Wikipedia says that the Second Congo War “and its aftermath had killed 5.4 million people, mostly from disease and starvation, making the Second Congo War the deadliest conflict worldwide since World War II.”
In fact, the Mapping Report says that the Armée patriotique rwandaise (APR – the Rwandan Army), went after ethnic Hutu’s regardless of their lack of involvement in the 94 genocide:

Several of the incidents listed appear to confirm that multiple attacks targeted members of the Hutu ethnic group as such, and not only the criminals responsible for the genocide committed in 1994 against the Tutsis in Rwanda and that no effort had been made by the AFDL/APR to distinguish between Hutu members of the ex-FAR/Interahamwe and Hutu civilians, whether or not they were refugees.

30. The intention to destroy a group in part is sufficient to constitute a crime of genocide and the international courts have confirmed that the destruction of a group can be limited to a particular geographical area. It is therefore possible to assert that, even if only a part of the Hutu population in Zaire was targeted and destroyed, it could nonetheless constitute a crime of genocide if this was the intention of the perpetrators. Several incidents listed in this report point to circumstances and facts from which a court could infer the intention to destroy the Hutu ethnic group in the DRC in part, if these were established beyond all reasonable doubt.

The incidents of horror from this war could be enumerated at length, but here is a sample of what the Rwandan Army did:

  • On 21 October 1996, units of the AFDL/APR/FAB attacked Lubarika camp and village, killing an unknown number of Rwandan and Burundian refugees, as well as Zairian civilians who were trying to flee the village after the departure of the FAZ. The soldiers forced local people to bury the bodies in four large mass graves. On the same day, soldiers also burned thirty refugees alive in a house in the village of Kakumbukumbu, five kilometres from Lubarika camp.
  • On 24 November 1996, in the village of Mwaba, units of the AFDL/APR/FAB burned 24 Burundian Hutu refugees from the Biriba camp alive. On their arrival in Mwaba, the soldiers arrested those present in the village. After questioning them, they freed the Zairian civilians and imprisoned the Burundian refugees in a house which they then set on fire.
  • On 22 October 1996, in the Rushima ravine between Bwegera and Luberizi, units of the AFDL/APR/FAB killed a group of nearly 550 Rwandan Hutu refugees who had escaped the Luberizi and Rwenena camps a few days before. Soldiers inter- cepted the victims at the checkpoints set up in the surrounding area. Between 27 October and 1 November 1996, under the pretext of repatriating them to Rwanda, units of the AFDL/APR/FAB led an unknown number of additional refugees into the Rushima ravine and executed them.
  • In January 1997, AFDL/APR units killed at least thirty Rwandan and Burundian refugees, mostly with knives, on the Bukavu to Walungu road, around sixteen kilometres from the city of Bukavu. The victims had been arrested as part of a combing operation. Before killing the victims, the soldiers often tortured and maimed them.
  • Between 15 November and 16 November 1996, AFDL/APR units arrested an un- known number of Rwandan Hutu men from the Lac Vert camp and Mugunga and executed them. Some were bound and then thrown alive into Lac Vert, where they drowned. Others were shot in the head and their bodies dumped in the lake. 

This could go on and on. Suffice it to say that these wars and those who instigate them should not be defended, but decried. Going after the humanitarian organizations instead is astonishing.

The Anglican Church of Rwanda Prior to the Genocide

Reading about the Anglican Church prior to the genocide shows how the church was totally co-opted by the one party (MRND) state and the Hutu majority. The heterodox Rev. Roger W. Bowen wrote “Genocide in Rwanda 1994 – An Anglican Perspective.” He said of the Anglicans:

Within the Anglican Church it was hard for Tutsis to advance in leadership while the hierarchy remained solidly Hutu.  The issue, which in the past in times of revival had been addressed so powerfully, was allowed to remain unresolved.  The challenge to find a deeper, more fundamental identity “in Christ” where there is no Jew nor Greek, Hutu nor Tutsi, seems to have been forgotten by many.  There were glorious exceptions to this where Christians who were also Hutu helped to protect their Tutsi neighbors for the interahamwe militias.  By and large, however, the Church had allowed these ethnic tensions to continue unresolved, often below the surface, until conditions occurred where the issue exploded beyond their control in horrific violence.  What happened in Rwanda is a salutary reminder that the fear and pain preventing the Church from addressing a painful tension within itself needs to be overcome is one is to avoid the far more horrific consequences of not facing it. 

Specific Anglican bishops of that time were complicit with the genocide. For example:

Far from condemning the attempt to exterminate the Tutsi, Archbishop Augustin Nshamihigo and Bishop Jonathan Ruhumuliza of the Anglican Church acted as spokesmen for the genocidal government at a press conference in Nairobi. Like many who tried to explain away the slaughter, they placed the blame for the genocide on the RPF because it had attacked Rwanda. Foreign journalists were so disgusted at this presentation that they left the conference (African Rights, Rwanda, Death, Despair, pp. 900-902).

Because the church did not stand up to the government or distance itself from the government, it was drawn into complicity:

Like the Catholics, many within the hierarchy of the Protestant churches had had close links with the Hutu regimes since independence. These links continued when the government was radicalised step by step. The profound links were clearly demonstrated when most of the Rwandan church leaders fled the country following the military defeat of the government responsible for the genocide. This did not mean that the church hierarchies were systematically involved in the planning of the genocide, but it indicated that the churches as organisations had not taken the responsibilities they were supposed to, due to their too close links to the government.

Former bishop Musabyimana was accused of consorting the government and acting as an emissary abroad on behalf of the government:

Samuel Musabyimana (44), formerly Bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Shyogwe, Gitarama prefecture in Rwanda, was arrested in Nairobi yesterday and transferred immediately to the Detention Facility of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) in Arusha. 

The count of conspiracy is based upon meetings with high level government and military officials organized or attended by Musabyimana. According to information from the ICTR, Bishop Musabyimana is said to have consorted regularly with Ministers of the interim Government of Rwanda and acted as an emissary abroad of the Government to legitimize its policies. This was at a time when those policies were known to include a plan of extermination of the Tutsi and the Hutu political opposition, according to the Tribunal.

Former Archbishop Carey said: “The church in Rwanda lost an opportunity to be prophetic during the genocide,” Carey said. “The church should have been calling out for justice but by and large its voice was silent.”
But I would take issue with what Archbishop Carey said in this regard: the Church should have spoken prior to the genocide! Yes it was silent during the horror, but this was in part because it was silent in the face of wickedness prior to the horror. There is nothing wrong with Church/State alliances on their face, but this assumes that the Church can rebuke the State, not simply go along with whatever evils it is peddling.
At his enthronement, post-genocide Archbishop Kolini said: “Discrimination has been uprooted, the church is not only salt but also light. …The church failed to warn, to preserve, to give taste and to transform Rwandan society.”
Is the church now warning and being salt and light?

The Cosmological Principle Challenged

Astronomers have discovered a cluster of young galaxies (quasars) that stretches four billion light years across! See here and here. The abstract of their paper says:

This new, Huge-LQG appears to be the largest structure currently known in the early Universe. Its size suggests incompatibility with the Yadav et al. scale of homogeneity for the concordance cosmology, and thus challenges the assumption of the cosmological principle.

The paper itself says:

The cosmic microwave background (CMB) is usually considered to provide the best evidence for isotropy, and hence of homogeneity too, given the assumption of isotropy about all points. Nevertheless, there do appear to be large-scale features in the CMB that may challenge the reality of homogeneity and isotropy – see Copi et al. (2010) for a recent review. More recently still than this review, Rossmanith et al. (2012) find further indications of a violation of statistical isotropy in the CMB. Furthermore, Yershov, Orlov & Raikov (2012) find that the supernovae in the redshift range 0.5–1.0 are associated with systematic CMB temperature fluctuations, possibly arising from large-scale inhomogeneities. Observationally, for SDSS DR7 galaxies with 0.22 < z < 0.50, Marinoni, Bel & Buzzi (2012) find that isotropy about all points does indeed apply on scales larger than ∼210 Mpc.


The occurrence of structure on Gpc-scales from the Huge-LQG and from galaxies implies that the Universe is not homogeneous on these scales. Furthermore, if we accept that homogeneity refers to any property of the Universe then an intriguing result is that of Hutsemékers et al. (2005), who found that the polarization vectors of quasars are correlated on Gpc scales. Similarly, the existence of cosmic flows on approximately Gpc scales (e.g. Kashlinsky et al. 2010), regardless of their cause, is itself implying that the Universe is not homogeneous.

Of course, history and, most recently, the work of Park et al. (2012) indicate that one should certainly be cautious on the question of homogeneity and the cosmological principle. The SGW (Gott et al. 2005) – and before it, the Great Wall (Geller & Huchra 1989) – was seen as a challenge to the standard cosmology and yet Park et al. (2012) show that, in the ‘Horizon Run 2’ concordance simulation of box-side 10 Gpc, comparable and even larger features can arise, although they are of course rare. Nevertheless, the Huge-LQG presented here is much larger, and it is adjacent to the CCLQG, which is itself very large, so the challenges still persist. 

This structure challenges isotropy and the cosmological principle – so how much do our current models of reality really know?

“Celtic” Christianity

In a commentary piece for the TLS on the Venerable Bede, Archbishop Rowan Williams says:

A great deal of nonsense has been written about “Celtic Christianity”, as if this were an intelligent designation for some self-contained variant of Catholic orthodoxy in the early Middle Ages, a variant more attuned to the sacredness of nature and less obsessed with institutional discipline. Historically, the churches of those regions where Celtic languages were spoken never thought of themselves as part of a network other than that of the Western Catholic Church. They wrote and spoke Latin, they looked to Rome as the focus of their ecclesial life (Welsh kings as well as English spent their final years in Rome) and they accepted the creeds and canons of the Catholic Church.

The Rwandan Surveillance State

I just came across a paper by Dr. Andrea Purdekova called  Even if I am not here, there are so many eyes’: surveillance and state reach in Rwanda.’ You can read the paper here. In it she describes the information gathering apparatus of the Rwandan state, for example:

Informers are indeed believed to be everywhere, and many people can simply be used for that purpose when and as necessary. To trace teachers harbouring divisionist ideologies, ‘well, there are the students, they know and say what the teachers are teaching, [for example] with regards to history, what kind of examples they are using’. ‘Problematic’ individuals can be traced in bars and restaurants because ‘even waiters, they can be intelligence’.The way in which surveillance happens is described in detail by Begley (2009:4), who, during her field research on the contribution of Rwandan Muslims to the reconciliation process, found out from one of her informants that ‘not just one, but five different men have been following our movements’. This included ‘the waiter from the restaurant [who] hired a couple of street kids to follow us [and who in turn] reported to another man on the street who then contacted the Chairman of the RPF’.

It is difficult to know exactly who represents the ‘ears and eyes’ of higher authorities, and who is merely curious, a gossip or generally suspecting, or whether those who observe from a distance actually understand anything being said and whether they pass it on. The perception nonetheless remains that surveillance and locally traced intelligence are ubiquitous, and the effects of this on behaviour are very real. Every researcher in Rwanda either experiences or hears stories of surveillance and notices the resulting self-editing behaviour. It is certainly true that neither email nor phone or even certain occasions at home are considered safe for discussing political or otherwise ‘sensitive’ issues. One informant told me that ‘no one really talks on the phone anymore, just the basics and that is it. You only start commenting on something and people stop you.’

The Begley paper referred to is The other side of fieldwork: experiences and challenges of conducting research in the border area of Rwanda/eastern Congo, which is found here. Begley recalls:

I was on the sofa typing up my notes, when Joseph, my translator called. He told me that a lot of bad things happened. One of my key participants, David had contacted Joseph. David told Joseph that some government officials had interrogated a few of my participants. They told these officials what was discussed during our interviews. I was too terrified to ask Joseph for any particular details. Joseph simply told me to “leave the country as soon as you can and do not come back to this town”. I hung up the phone and I learned what it means to be truly fearful. I paced up and down the house trying to figure out what I should do. I considered going to Goma to email my supervisors. However, with the rising tension and being on the brink of all-out war, I couldn’t risk the Rwandan border officials asking me questions about why I keep going to Goma. I feel helpless. I tried to write a coded email to my supervisors. We have been using weather terms, such as it’s getting really hot here, for things are not going well and there have been some problems. But how do I convey Rwanda’s getting ready to invade Congo, Congo is on the brink of all-out war, and the Rwandan government knows everything I learned and is interrogating my participants, using weather terms? There’s no weather term that can adequately communicate that people could be killed for what they told me and I have no way to protect them. In the end I stated that there was a huge storm and another one coming from across the lake. It was so hot here that no one could have predicted how hot it was really going to be. I sent the email and then I broke down. Six months of stress, panic, and fear had finally caused me to have a complete breakdown. This is too much. I can’t take it anymore and there’s no sense for me to stay here. I feel completely alone and isolated. I’m completely terrified that people are going to be thrown in jail for genocide ideology or even killed for what they told me. And there’s no one I can talk to. There’s no one to tell me what I should do, because the government is watching my emails and after this incident I have no doubt that they are. I have to leave. It’s three in the morning and I can’t sleep. I can’t sit still nor can I focus. I just need to get out of here.

Begley describes the fear she experienced in Rwanda:

Among many Tutsi, pro-Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), and Congolese there is the common belief that Rwanda is stable and secure. However, my own experiences suggest that this is not the entire picture and that there is a fine line between “security” and “government control”. Experiences such as those I had with the Imam and Robert (see below) as well as the intimidation of my participants provided me with a deeper insight into the everyday realities of fear that Rwandans must cope with. Furthermore, as long as I was in Rwanda, I had no way to seek immediate help from my supervisors or from anyone. The constant mistrust, the feeling of always being watched, having no friends and no one who understood the situation to offer advice or support, and living in constant fear, all made my fieldwork isolating and nerve-racking.

To help ease the situation, I adopted strategies that Rwandans employ to avoid suspicion. For example, many Rwandans have joined the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) in order to avoid suspicion and to prevent problems with soldiers. The RPF was the Rwandan Tutsi rebel army living in exile in Uganda. In 1990, they invaded Rwanda and began a civil war with Habyarimana’s regime. The RPF took control of the country after the genocide and is still the dominant political party. When I discovered that the government had spies following me, I began to wear a hat with the logo of the RPF on it. I also sought to interview prominent RPF officials and businessmen, asking relatively harmless questions.

Begley recounts another experience of surveillance that she had in Rwanda:

I was having breakfast at a restaurant that I usually went to. I met my translator and we left to go meet an Imam. Nothing seems out of place or wrong, just a normal day. There are plenty of street kids around, nothing unusual. We arrive and begin the interview. The Imam destroys every stereotypical imagine of what an Imam is portrayed to look like. He’s wearing sunglasses, despite the complete lack of light in the house. He has a plain blue t-shirt on and baggy cloth pants. He looks straight out of a 1980s R&B music group. His demeanour is laidback and relaxed. The Imam is discussing how Muslims have contributed to the reconciliation process in post-genocide Rwanda. The purple and green lights from his phone begin to flash and I get distracted. He answers it and at first remains sitting on the sofa, than leaves out the front door. He returns after a few minutes and the interview continues. As soon as we are away from the Imam, Joseph informs me: “We are being watched.” My heart falls into my stomach and I ask how he knows. “I overheard the Imam’s conversation on the phone. The person on the phone was the District Chairman of the RPF. He says that there is a white person at your house. What does she want? What is she doing there?” “What did the Imam say?” I asked almost desperately. “He said that you were here doing research on Islam and that you were on ‘our side’.” Somehow those words do not ease the wave of panic that has come over me.

The next day I am told exactly what happened and was no longer allowed to eat breakfast at my usual place. One of my informants told Joseph that he watched the waiter from the restaurant hire a couple of street kids to follow us. The street kids reported to another man on the street who than contacted the Chairman of the RPF. Furthermore, it was not just one, but five different men who have been following our movements. I was terrified because of what could happen to my participants and translators. They have no embassy to run to if something were to happen.

These episodes sound like something straight out of 1984. Again:

There was one incident in which I received an email from a person whom I had never met before stating he was sending me documents on behalf of a Rwandan official. The email contained documents about the atrocities committed by the RPF during the civil war, genocide and afterwards. This made me extremely nervous in case the government did decide to check my emails. I emailed this person after my return to the UK, to see if he could tell me why and who told him to send me that information. He replied: “We learnt from Kigali officials that a young and naive young woman was making research on Rwanda tragedy. We were asked to provide you with ‘good’ information. That means, we were asked to repeat Kagame and his fellows’ speech on what happened and what is happening in Rwanda and in the Great Lakes area. We consider Kagame and his sponsors (USA, UK, some West companies) as the main actors of Central Africa tragedy” (received 5 November 2008).

At the end of another chilling story, she mentions what a Rwandan told her:

“You go and tell them what life is really like here. Tell them that the government is lying. Rwanda is not democratic and there is no reconciliation. Thank you for listening to our side.”

Modern Anglican Theologians

If Anglicanism is to have a lasting and ongoing impact globally, it surely must move beyond a grateful embrace of the past and engage the Scriptures and the modern world in innovative ways. We rightly venerate Hooker, Donne, Herbert, Cranmer, Jewel and many others, but we need new theologians who do more than simply unpack the works of these past greats. With that in mind, I surveyed a couple knowledgeable Anglican friends of mine as to who they would recommend as sources we can look to, maybe along the lines of the wonderful list that the Calvinist International has put together here. My friends came up with:
Lee Gatiss, whose website is here. His bio reads:

Lee read Modern History at New College, Oxford. After working for St. Ebbe’s Church in Oxford for a while, he was a student on the Cornhill Training Course in London, with a placement doing student work at All Soul’s, Langham Place.

From there he went on to read Theological & Pastoral Studies at Oak Hill Theological College in London, staying on for a fourth year to continue sadly unfinished masters research (M.Phil) into the Old Testament (intertextuality in Malachi).

After three years as the Curate of St. Botolph’s, Barton Seagrave and St. Edmund’s, Warkton, for more than five years Lee was the Associate Minister of St. Helen’s, Bishopsgate in the City of London with responsibility for the Sunday Morning congregation and midweek groups as well as the delightful members of the Church Family staff team, and Reform London. While in London he also completed a ThM in Historical and Systematic Theology with Westminster Theological Seminary in the USA. He is currently doing research on 17th century biblical interpretation at Peterhouse and Tyndale House, Cambridge (where he has also been awarded the Lightfoot Scholarship).

Mark Thompson, whose blog is here. He is the principal of Moore Theological College. He authored A Clear and Present Word: The Clarity of Scripture (New Studies in Biblical Theology).
Peter Bolt, a New Testament scholar who teaches at Moore Theological College. A list of his publications and research can be found here.
Michael Jensen, whose blog is here. He teaches doctrine and ethics at Moore Theological College. He says, “I completed my doctorate on Martyrdom and its meaning for the Self in 2008 and now I live in Sydney where I teach Christian Doctrine at Moore College.”
Christopher Seitz, who teaches at Wycliffe College. His biography reads:

Christopher Seitz was Professor of Old Testament at Yale University and the University of St Andrews before coming to Wycliffe in 2007. He is an ordained Episcopal Priest and has served parishes in Texas, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Germany, France and Scotland. He is also the President of The Anglican Communion Institute and Canon Theologian in the Episcopal Diocese of Dallas…He has been a fellow of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, the Luce Foundation, and the Center for Theological Inquiry. He has supervised numerous PhD students and has published over a dozen books on the interpretation of Old and New Testaments, and in the area of theological hermeneutics.

Aubrey Spears, pastor of the Church of the Incarnation in Harrisonburg. Aubrey has a PhD from the University of Liverpool, and is a  fellow of the Scripture and Hermeneutics seminar led by Craig Bartholomew. He is writing a commentary on Ecclesiastes.
Thomas Renz. Renz is a German who is Rector of St Michael’s Highgate, London. His biography here says:

Thomas is enthusiastic to let the whole Bible shape our theological thinking and our spiritual life. He will encourage you to read the Old Testament as a Christian and with sensitivity about its original historical context.He is particularly interested in the prophetic literature and biblical theology. His current research focuses on Nahum, Habakkuk and Zephaniah.

Tim Ward. A parish priest at Holy Trinity Church in Hinckley and the author of Words of Life: Scripture as the Living and Active Word of God. Ward has a PhD on Scripture and speech acts under Kevin Vanhoozer.
Wesley Hill. Hill is the assistant professor of New Testament at Trinity School for Ministry in Ambridge, PA. He did his undergrad at Wheaton, and obtained a New Testament PhD at Durham University.
I was mainly looking for a younger generation of non Anglo-Catholic scholars. Among the elders, we would have to list N.T. Wright of course, as well as Oliver O’Donovan. My friends also mentioned:
John Webster, professor at Aberdeen; formerly Lady Margaret Professor of Divinity at Oxford (he was Rowan Williams’s successor). My friend says, “He is a Barth scholar who’s pretty Reformed, and is a stellar systematician.”
Gordon Wenham. Who should need no introduction, but here.
Christopher Wright. Director of Langham Partnership (founded by John Stott). Wright is an OT scholar. Christopher Ash. My friend says that he “has written a superb book on Marriage, and very good commentaries on Romans and Psalm 119 among other things. Now training preachers at the Cornhill Training Course in London.” Alec Motyer. His wonderful Isaiah commentary sits in my library and was very helpful for me many years ago. Peter Jensen. My friend says, “before he was Abp of Sydney, Jensen was principal of Moore College, where he taught doctrine. His monograph on the doctrine of Revelation is a significant work.” David Peterson. Formerly the principal of Oak Hill, now back at Moore College. He has published the Acts volume in the Pillar New Testament Commentary Series. Graham Cole.A Professor of Divinity at Beeson. Among other things, he wrote He Who Gives Life: The Doctrine of the Holy Spirit.
I have been told I should have included Drs. William Witt, Rodney Whitacre and Gerald Bray. Duly noted and added!

S.S. Beheadings

In the 1977 book The Nazis and the Occult, Dusty Sklar mentioned a bizarre practice that she maintained the Nazi SS practiced. Sklar said that the SS beheaded young Aryans and used their heads to communicate to the spirit realm (this reminds me of an incident in the C.S. Lewis Space trilogy). Sklar wrote:

A professor of anthropology at Occidental College in California, C. Scott Littleton, provided me with astonishing details of another SS ceremony which has not been corroborated by anyone else, but which may well be true. A professor friend of his, he claims, saw original Nazi depositions taken for the Nuremberg Trials, but never included in the record, which told of a periodic sacrifice wherein a fine Aryan specimen of an SS man was beheaded and the severed head made a vehicle for communion with Secret Masters in the Caucasus. These beings, presumably, were not believed to be earthly, and were looked to for guidance.

Her source for this assertion was a Professor named C. Scott Littleton. I looked him up back in June 2008 and emailed him about this practice. Professor Littleton wrote me back. I looked him up online today and noticed that he died in 2010. Since he has passed on, I thought I should publish his remarks to me, as they provide background to Sklar’s book and are probably not available elsewhere. Our exchange follows:

[I asked]: Dusty Sklar’s book the Nazis and the Occult mentions you talking about an SS ceremony involving beheading. Have you confirmed the veracity of that story? Have you documented it anywhere?

[He replied]:

My information on this bizarre SS ritual came from a old UCLA friend and professional colleague, who, at his longstanding request, must remain nameless. However, having known the guy for more than forty years, I have every reason to accept what he related to me–and what I related to Ms. Sklar–as true. My friend is a native German-speaker, who came to this country as a child in the early 1950s. He went on to do graduate work in Germanic literature, and in 1968, while studying at a German university on a Ford Foundation grant, he became friendly with one of his professors, who must also remain nameless, although he was then well on his way to becoming a distinguished folklorist. One evening, after they’d quaffed more than a few steins at a local bierstube, for reasons my friend has never completely understood, his companion said he wanted to show him something. They went back to the professor’s office, and, as it was late in the evening, few other people were around. From a locked cabinet in an inner room he removed a set of yellowing files and asked my friend to look at them. What they said sobered him up almost immediately.

As it turned out, during what turned out to be his last leave, the professor’s late father, who’d been an SS general, left a box of files with his wife, telling her to hide them away–and especially not to show them to any Allied soldiers or officials. He soon returned to the Eastern front and was never heard from again.

Some years later, after his mother’s death, my friend’s informant inherited the box of files. Although he’d been a member of the Hitler Youth at when he last saw his father, by the time he became a university student, he’d long since divested all remnants of the Nazi ideology he’d been exposed to as a child. But he kept the files hidden away, agonizing over whether to make them public. He ended up keeping them in the locked cabinet just mentioned.

What they contained were transcripts of what amounted to extremely bizarre “séances” regularly held by the senior officers of his SS unit. A young, totally “Aryan”-looking SS lieutenant would be invited for a private dinner with his superiors. After the dishes had been cleared away, the victim’s arms would be pinioned against his chair and a SS surgeon would swiftly decapitate the young man, cauterize his head, and place it in a tray in the middle of the table. After the headless body had been removed (his family would be told that he died in battle as a hero), the senior officer (that is, the SS general) would ask it questions about various military matters, and then, in a trance, repeat aloud the head’s replies–although it appeared that the head was simply a conduit for information from “secret masters” of some sort (aliens, perhaps?). In any case, the questions were supplied by Berlin, and similar rituals were apparently conducted at other SS units. The answers were all forwarded to Berlin, where they would be collated and used in strategic planning. What my friend saw were the file copies the general had kept.

As you can imagine, my friend was not in a position to take any notes, let alone photocopy what he’d read, even if he’d had a camera with him. But as soon as he returned to his room he spent the rest of the night waiting up his impressions of what he’d just read–and heard, as the professor had glossed a number aspects based on what he remembered his father and later his mother telling him.

There’s a curious twist to this story. After my friend returned to the States, he showed his notes to me, and I urged him to photocopy them ASAP. This was 1969, and Xerox machines were not yet ubiquitous, so he decided to use the library machines. On his way there, he set his briefcase down for a few seconds while he took a drink from a drinking fountain. But when he reached down to pick it up, the briefcase was gone. Someone had stolen it–along with his notes. Was this a coincidence? Or did someone know what was in that briefcase. . . ? We’ll never know.

Yes, he subsequently did his best to reconstruct what he’d written immediately after seeing the documents, but it wasn’t the same. Some years later, at my suggestion, he approached a publisher, but that was shortly after the Howard Hughes biography hoax surfaced, and they wouldn’t even begin to consider something like this without extensive documentation.

Anyway, that’s where it remains. I can’t “document” any of this, and yes, it’s definitely hearsay, from a legal standpoint. I emphasized this to Dusty Sklar. But as I said, I trust my immediate source implicitly. It’s possible, of course, that the folklore professor could have hoaxed the whole thing. But from what my friend said, he was still agonizing over what to do with the files: destroy them or make them public. I might add that after that fateful evening, the professor never once mentioned the incident; it was as if it had never happened. My friend thinks that after a few beers he simply decided on an impulse to share it with his young German-American student.

I have no idea if the professor is still alive–or why other such files have never come to light, after all these years. I suspect that the Nuremberg Commission would have used them had they been available. The bottom line here seems to be that my friend was in the right place at the right time–though the theft of his briefcase does make one wonder.

Hope this helps. Lots of good wishes & Cheers,


[I replied]:

That’s an incredible story! Why do you think there would be any hesitation on the part of the Germans to publish that information? I wish we knew more.

Prof. Littleton replied:

Yes, it’s a fascinating account indeed. I think one reason that it (or another set of similar files) hasn’t been published is that the files my friend saw are (or were in 1968) the only ones that hadn’t been destroyed. And the handful of aging SS officers who might know what went on during those bizarre “dinner parties” are still probably reluctant to talk about it, even to their close relatives. And who would believe them without supporting documents? As I think about it, even if the Nuremberg people had discovered existence of this ritual, they might have introduced it for the same reason that other elements of the Nazi’s occult beliefs weren’t mentioned. They didn’t want to muddy the waters by allowing the defense to claim their clients were simply following their “religious” beliefs (I’m not the first to suggest this).

As I just said, the people who might be able to shed more light on this are now mostly dead, so we’ll probably never get to the bottom of it—unless someone comes up with another set of files and/or a long hidden diary or journal. But I wouldn’t hold my breath. . .

Anyway, let’s keep our eyes–and ears–open!

There you have it. The chain of transmission of this story looks like it is:

1. An SS General who is the father of:

2. A German University Professor who in 1968 reveals the story to:

3. A Professional who is later at UCLA, who is visiting Germany and later tells:

4. Prof. Littleton who then passed the information to:

5. Dusty Sklar for her book.

Saul Among the Prophets

What was Israel’s worship like outside the Temple? Some intriguing clues are seen in the bands of prophets and their ecstatic worship. I wish we knew more about it. I read a bit on the subject lately, as follows:

In the Westminster Theological Journal, 56:2, John W. Hilber writes:

The function of prophetic bands is also unclear. The description in 1 Sam 10:5–13 portrays a group descending from worship at Gibeah and prophesying with musical accompaniment, whom Saul joins as the Spirit of God comes upon him and initiates him into the prophetic band. Later, Saul would again be inducted into a band, located this time at Ramah, and fall naked prophesying (1 Sam 19:18–24). Perhaps in a similar way, David led the worship of Yahweh when he danced naked before the ark (2 Sam 6:5, 12–20). Thus, the prophetic worship established by David had precedence in the prophetic bands of his day. In 1 Kgs 20:35 the formal title “sons of the prophets” designates such bands.18

As in the days of Samuel, such groups were associated with specific locations (Bethel, 2 Kgs 2:3; Jericho, 2 Kgs 2:7; 6:1; Gilgal, 2 Kgs 4:38) and often served under the ministry of a master prophet (2 Kgs 2:15–16; 4:1, 38; 6:5; 9:4). Even though they were subordinate to a master prophet of greater authority, they were agents of formal prophetic oracles, received revelation of future events, and themselves spoke with great authority (e.g., 1 Kgs 20:35–42; 2 Kgs 2:3, 5; 9:1–13). Amos’ disclaimer presumes that either a prophet or a son of prophet could be expected to speak an oracle from God (Amos 7:14). The number of these subordinate prophets was at times considerable. The remnant alone after the slaughter by Jezebel numbered 100 (1 Kgs 18:4).

The Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 9:3 (Summer 1966) says:

Lack of information also shrouds the example of Saul and his messengers in 1 Sam 19:18–24. Saul’s falling prostrate day and night suggests an element of involuntary control. But this was probably only part of the prophetic behavior, since the text is silent regarding any prolonged prostration of Saul’s messengers who also prophesied, and since their behavior mimicked that of Samuel and his band (1 Sam 19:20). If the prophetic procession of 1 Sam 10:5–11 is a similar phenomenon, then music and dancing might be a partial description. Music and prophecy are regularly associated, although whether that constitutes ecstatic behavior remains to be seen. David’s leaping and dancing before the ark may be called ecstatic, yet it appeared to be at his own volition (2 Sam 6:21–22). It is significant that ecstatic prophesying on this occasion did not exclude verbal praise.  So, the phenomena in Numbers and 1-2 Samuel may have been exuberant praise, more or less spontaneous, the emotive energy and verbal content of which was sponsored by the Spirit.

The second is I Sam. 10:1–13. This instance concerns similar prophesying activity by Saul following Samuel’s indication to him that he would be Israel’s new king. Samuel also told him of several events in which he would be involved on his home-ward journey after leaving Samuel. Among others, Saul would meet a “band of prophets” coming down from “the high place with’ a number of musical instruments, and they would “prophesy” (mithnabeʾim); also that “the Spirit of Jehovah” would then “come mightily upon” him so that he too would prophesy (hithnabbitha) and be “turned into another man.” These events occurred as predicted.

The third is I Sam. 19:18–24. This instance also concerns prophesying by Saul who was now king. He had recently sent three different groups of messengers to apprehend David who had fled from Saul and gone to Samuel at Ramah.  All three groups met Samuel standing head over a band of prophets who were prophesying, and the result was that the messengers, each time, joined with these in this activity. Finally Saul himself went. But while yet on the way, he experienced the “Spirit of God” coming upon him and he “prophesied” (yithnabbeʾ) also. Later, after coming to where the others were, he further removed some of his clothing and lay in an apparent stupor the rest of that day and the following night.

 18 Observing that this is the first occurrence of the phrase “sons of the prophets,” E. J. Young suggests that the switch to this title implies a closer tie with a spiritual father than existed in the days of Samuel (My Servants the Prophets [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1952] 92). However, the question about Saul’s being the new “father” to the prophetic band in 1 Sam 10:12 (cf. 2 Kgs 2:12) and Samuel’s presiding over the band in 1 Sam 19:20 implies continuity between the phenomena in the days of Samuel and Elijah.

23 This is not to say that all participants in a procession were the source of oracles. For example, if even one individual among the group served as a source for verbal content and the rest followed antiphonally, then all might be said to prophesy. Someone joining this band through the impulse of the Spirit might be said to prophesy because he acted and sang with the band. There is no evidence for this, but these speculations should demonstrate that the possibilities are broader than usually admitted in the discussions.

5   The text says that David came to Samuel at “naioth in Ramah.” Naioth means “dwelling.” Since Samuel’s group of prophets also was there, this “dwelling” may have been the building in which the school of these prophet’s met.

Playing an Away Game

Ties to the African Anglican churches have by and large been positive for American Anglicans. Their orthodoxy, fervency for Jesus, and love of Scripture have been a glass of water in a thirsty land of apostasy.

With that in mind, it seems to me that we are aligning ourselves with political situations we have little to no idea about. We are playing an away game and we don’t know many of the players on our team or the opposing team. George Conger’s recent article on the possible involvement of Emmanuel Kolini with M23 in the Congo is one example. The UN report that Conger mentions says:

Another similar M23 meeting with Rwandan authorities took place on 26 May 2012 in Ruhengeri, Rwanda, at Hotel Ishema. According to intelligence sources and to politicians with close ties to Kigali, the RDF organized the meeting for CNDP politicians, which was chaired by Bishops John Rucyahana and Coline (sic – should read Kolini), both senior RPF party leaders. The aim of the meeting was to convey the message that the Rwandan Government supports M23 politically and militarily. All Rwandophone politicians and officers were instructed to join M23, or otherwise leave the Kivus.

I would by lying if I said I knew anything about “M23” before reading this. However, a Google search turns up some interesting things about the group, including pictures like this:

M23 Rocket Launcher

Then there is an article by Stephen W. Smith called Rwanda in Six Scenes. It was published in a leftist magazine, but that doesn’t necessarily detract from its essential veracity. It should be read by all with an interest in the subject, and it says in part:

Rwanda, as a recent document has it, is a one-party authoritarian state, controlled by President Kagame through a small clique of Tutsi military officers and civilian cadres of the RPF from behind the scenes. The majority Hutu community remains excluded from a meaningful share of political power. State institutions are as effective as they are repressive. The government relies on severe repression to maintain its hold on power … Rwanda is less free today than it was prior to the genocide. There is less room for political participation than there was in 1994. Civil society is less free and effective. The media is less free. The Rwanda government is more repressive than the one that it overthrew.

This is not the preamble to a new Hutu manifesto but an excerpt from the ‘Rwanda Briefing’ published last year by four senior figures in the Kagame regime who’ve now fled abroad: the former secretary general of the RPF Theogene Rudasingwa; his brother Gerald Gahima, one-time prosecutor general and vice-president of the Rwandan Supreme Court; the erstwhile chief of external security services Colonel Patrick Karegeya; and General Faustin Kayumba Nyamwasa, the ex-chief of staff of the Rwandan army. Nyamwasa survived an attempt on his life last June, when a commando opened fire on him in Johannesburg, where he now lives in exile. The South African authorities laid the blame with the government in Kigali.

Conger’s article goes on to say:

Direct assistance in the creation of M23 through the transport of weapons and soldiers through Rwandan territory; Recruitment of Rwandan youth and demobilized ex-combatants as well as Congolese refugees for M23; Provision of weapons and ammunition to M23; Mobilization and lobbying of Congolese political and financial leaders for the benefit of M23; Direct Rwandan Defence Forces (RDF) interventions into Congolese territory to reinforce M23; Support to several other armed groups as well as Forces armées de la République démocratique du Congo (FARDC) mutinies in the eastern Congo; Violation of the assets freeze and travel ban through supporting sanctioned individuals.”

The Group of Experts stated two Anglican bishops had convened a meeting organized by the Rwandan Defence Forces for leaders of the CNDP – the Congrès national pour la défense du peuple, CNDP  is a political armed militia established by Laurent Nkunda in the Kivu region in 2006 that under the terms of the recent peace accord is to be integrated into the Congolese army.  The Group of Experts further identified the two bishops as “senior members” of Rwanda’s ruling government party.

Conger also contacted Archbishop Rwaje, who said:

Archbishop Onesphore Rwaje said: “We were not aware of the UN report or any involvement of our retired Bishops as contained in the report. PEAR is in the Proclamation of the Gospel and not in politics between two countries or simply put in politics. We are not able to comment on the report or the names therein.”

Finally, there is a document written by Phillip Cantrell called “The Anglican Church of Rwanda : domestic agendas and international linkages.” It was written in 2007, and it gives a good accounting of the AMiA / PEAR (called PEER in this document) relationship to that point. I can’t do justice to the entire thing, you should read it, but it says in conclusion:

As to Rwanda’s church leaders, specifically PEER, their close association with and support of the RPF, dating back to their own origins in Uganda, have made them a politicised church along the same lines as the Catholic and Protestant Churches under both Kayibanda and Habyarimana. They support the post-genocide narrative offered by the RPF, and have been enlisted in the campaign to re-write Rwanda’s history. While their efforts to promote reconciliation have brought many resources and much attention to the country, and while they may be utterly genuine in their own efforts, they have become complicit in presenting the RPF’s version of Rwanda’s history and politics. As a result, to paraphrase Pottier (2002), AMIA has joined the ranks of numerous groups in the ‘aid industry’ that prefer to accept the authorities’ easy reading of a highly complex situation, and have actively reproduced and spread, wittingly or unwittingly, a vision of Rwanda that bears the RPF’s seal of approval. Forgotten is Lemarchand’s (1998) warning that ‘there can be no reconciliation without justice and no justice without truth’.

Many of these sources point to former Archbishop Kolini’s connections, which I believe came to fruition with the AMiA – Congo tie up this year. If the UN report is correct, Kolini is multitasking while in the Congo and is keeping very busy. It would be interesting to map the territory of the “4 dioceses…committed to being partners through Concordat” mentioned by Kevin Donlon, and presumably in the Congo, with Kolini’s activity.

But the bottom line here is: we don’t know. I don’t know anything about M23, the CNDP or anything else in the Congo or Rwanda, and I bet you don’t either. Most of you anyway. But when we ally ourselves with these churches, we risk being drawn into a whole web of connections that we are unaware of. I don’t know what the answer is to the questions posed by these connections, but I think we should start thinking through them.