Al Mohler on Nelson Mandela

When it comes to human rights and human dignity, Nelson Mandela has to be put on the side of the heroes, not only of the 20th century, but of any recent century. He is, as an ironic view of history would remind us, one of those necessary men. A necessary man who nonetheless is a man whose feet were made of clay, as his biography reveals very clearly…

American Christians looking at Nelson Mandela must eagerly affirm that we are thankful that he was used in order to achieve freedom and human dignity for his people. But perhaps we should also be thankful that we know a little bit more of the story so that he is not merely held up as a hero to be emulated in every respect, but is known as one who was a morally complicated man. And when it comes to figures on the world scene, every single one of them is morally complicated, each in his or her own way…”  more here

According to Mohler, Reinhold Niebuhr, an American influential theologian in the middle 20th century, has argued “that there are times in which certain men, certain historical figures, appear to be historically necessary, even if they are far from historically perfect.”

In this respect, as President Obama recently remarked, “Nelson Mandela belongs to the ages.”

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7 Responses to Al Mohler on Nelson Mandela

  1. Jon Hughesj says:


    I don’t like the way so many believers feel the need to add negativity into the mix in their tributes to Mandela, especially so soon after his passing. He was a great man. Let’s celebrate him!

  2. Simon says:

    Jon, I think Mohler was quite gracious. Of course, his comments on moral failings are redundant (particularly coming from a TULIP believer!). Even the best of us have some moral failures.

  3. TC says:

    Jon, Mohler is coming from a leadership standpoint, not a matter of whether he is evangelical or not.

    Simon, yes, he is stating, which is sometimes necessary.

  4. Jon Hughes says:

    I think the focus should be on the fact that when he came out of prison Mandela wasn’t the same man that went in twenty seven years previously. Here’s a great quote that should especially resonate with believers in Christ:

    “As I walked out the door toward the gate that would lead to my freedom, I knew if I didn’t leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I’d still be in prison.”

    That’s inspiring, and I want to cry out, “Amen!”.

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