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Author/Compiler: Tihomir Dimitrov (; also see


Nobel Prize: The Professor of Theology, Desmond Tutu (born 1931) received the 1984 Nobel Peace Prize for his role in the opposition to apartheid in South Africa.

Nationality: South African

Education: Master’s degree in Theology, King’s College, London, 1966

Occupation: Professor of Theology at Emory University in Atlanta, USA (1999-present); General Secretary of the South African Council of Churches (1978); Anglican archbishop of Cape Town (1986)


1. In his Nobel Lecture (11 December 1984, Les Prix Nobel 1984) Desmond Tutu said:

“When will we learn that human beings are of infinite value because they have been created in the image of God, and that it is a blasphemy to treat them as if they were less than this and to do so ultimately recoils on those who do this? In dehumanizing others, they are themselves dehumanized. Perhaps oppression dehumanizes the oppressor as much as, if not more than, the oppressed.

God calls us to be fellow workers with Him, so that we can extend His Kingdom of shalom, of justice, of goodness, of compassion, of caring, of sharing, of laughter, joy and reconciliation, so that the kingdoms of this world will become the Kingdom of our God and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever. Amen.” (Tutu 1985, 246).

2. To the question, “If there is a God, why do so many suffer all their lives and why do so many people hate each other based on their color?” Desmond Tutu replied:

“In the end, it is a tremendous tribute to us that our God is not one who keeps intervening, jumping in. Because God has given us an incredible gift – the gift of being able to make choices.

He’s like a parent. The parents often see their child, who they dearly love, is going to make a wrong decision. The good parent is one who is going to allow you to make that decision, because that is how you’re going to learn how to grow.

It isn’t that God does nothing. It is that God respects us and says, ‘If you’re going to be persons and not robots, then you’re going to have to be free, you’re going to have the space to choose. The reality of your freedom is judged by the fact that I let you be free even to choose to reject Me, to choose the wrong.’ We have to live with the consequences of those choices. God still does not abandon us! Jesus Christ died ultimately as the prize of God’s caring for us, when we got ourselves into the mess we’re in.” (Tutu 1995).

3. “The God that I worship is the one revealed by Jesus. Jesus is a kind of window into the character of God. That is a God who is life-affirming, who opposes anything that undermines the integrity of anybody.” (Tutu 1995).

4. “The God that I worship is a strange God. Because it is God who is omnipotent, all-powerful, but he is also God who is weak. An extraordinary paradox: that it is God, a God of justice, who wants to see justice in the world. But because God has such a deep reverence for our freedoms all over the place, God will not intervene, like sending lightning bolts to dispatch of all despots. God waits for God’s partners: us.

God has a dream. God has a dream of a world that is different, a world in which you and I care for one another because we belong in one family. And I want to make an appeal on behalf of God. God says, ‘Can you help me realize my dream? My dream of a world that is more caring, a world that is more compassionate, a world that says people matter more than things. People matter more than profits. That is my dream,’ says God. ‘Will you please help me realize my dream, and I have nobody, except you’.” (Tutu 1998).

5. In his sermon delivered on September 11, 2002, at the Washington National Cathedral, Desmond Tutu said:

“Dear friends, in many ways, it is to say we, all of us, are vulnerable, fragile. For vulnerability is of the essence of creaturehood. Only God is ultimately invincible.

The Bible has wonderful images of God holding back the waters of chaos that seek to overwhelm. God holding back the desert that seeks to take over the arable land. For it is only because God restrains the forces of evil that you and I are able to be at all.

And the Bible has this incredible image of you, of I, of all of us, each one, held as something precious, fragile in the palms of God’s hands. And that you and I exist only because God forever is blowing God’s breath into our being. And we exist only because God keeps us in being. Otherwise, we would disintegrate into the nothingness, the oblivion, from which God’s fiat has brought us.” (Tutu 2002).

6. “The powers of darkness, of evil and of destruction had done their worst, they had killed the Lord of life himself. But that death was not the end. That death was the beginning of a glorious life, the resurrection life. That death was the death of death itself – for Jesus Christ lives for ever and ever.” (Desmond Tutu, The Rainbow People of God, New York, Image Books, 1996, 18).

7. “God created us for fellowship. God created us so that we should form the human family, existing together because we were made for one another. We are not made for an exclusive self-sufficiency but for interdependence.” (Tutu 1985, 246).

8. In his open letter to the Prime Minister of the Apartheid Government of South Africa, B. J. Vorster (May 6, 1976), Desmond Tutu wrote:

“I am writing to you as one human person to another human person, gloriously created in the image of the selfsame God, redeemed by the selfsame Son of God who for all our sakes died on the Cross and rose triumphant from the dead and reigns in glory now at the right hand of the Father; sanctified by the selfsame Holy Spirit who works inwardly in all of us to change our hearts of stone into hearts of flesh. I am, therefore, writing to you, Sir, as one Christian to another, for through our common baptism we have been made members of and are united in the Body of our dear Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. This Jesus Christ, whatever we may have done, has broken down all that separates us irrelevantly – such as race, sex, culture, status, etc. In this Jesus Christ we are forever bound together as one redeemed humanity, black and white together.” (Desmond Tutu, The Rainbow People of God, NY, Image Books, 1996, 7).

9. Desmond Tutu’s favourite prayer is the prayer of St. Francis of Assisi:

“Lord, make me a channel of Thy peace

that where there is hatred, I may bring love,

that where there is wrong, I may bring the spirit of forgiveness,

that where there is discord, I may bring harmony,

that where there is error, I may bring truth,

that where there is doubt, I may bring faith,

that where there is despair, I may bring hope,

that where there are shadows, I may bring light,

that where there is sadness, I may bring joy.

Lord, grant that I may seek rather

to comfort than to be comforted,

to understand than to be understood,

to love than to be loved.

For it is by self-forgetting that one finds,

it is by forgiving that one is forgiven,

it is by dying that one awakens to eternal life. Amen.”

(Desmond Tutu, The Rainbow People of God, New York, Image Books, 1996, 13; see also Les Prix Nobel 1979).