Owning Up to Our Past
We’ve bluffed for too long. We’ve pretended for so many years that it’s sometimes hard to remember where the truth actually is. But those outside the walls of our churches know the truth about us. They know that statistics, which often prove that we divorce and we lie and we cheat on our spouses and our taxes just as much as they do. They know that our kids get in trouble just like theirs do. And they know that we aren’t everything we claim to be. It’s time to come clean. It’s time to tell it like it is – to tell the truth about us. We did participate in witch hunts. No, not to the extent that some contend, but we were there. We did participate in the Crusades and the Inquisition. Again, the numbers are wildly inflated by postmodern historians, but it happened. We look foolish if we deny it. We look like ostriches with our heads in the sand. We destroyed statues and shattered stain glass windows in the wake of the Reformation. We burned books and cathedrals and people, and these were totally ungodly things to do.
Some of you might be tempted to think that, since those things happened centuries ago, we shouldn’t bring them up here. If you prefer, we can mention more recent events. Many of our churches sat idly by while African-Americans struggled to find equal treatment in this nation. We were the ones at the front of the bus. We were the ones with the fire hoses and dogs. We were the ones who snatched our kids out of public schools – abandoning them to the devil – and created our own educational institutions because we didn’t want “colored” kids corrupting our school system.
It’s time to tell the truth about ourselves.
We perpetrated hate crimes. We perpetuated racism. Christians did this too, and we undermine our credibility when we try to deny it.
Of course, Christians are also responsible for most of the great art, music, literature, scientific and technological breakthroughs. Christians have fed the poor, clothed the naked and housed the homeless. But we’ll never be able to prove that if we aren’t willing to own up to the serious mistakes of our past.
And that’s what I'm saying here. There are many in the non-Christian world who are ready to hear the truth, but they’re not interested in any half-truths from either side of any cultural debate. If we’re going to tell the truth, we must tell the whole truth. In doing so, we stand a greater chance of being heard.