I spend some time answering questions on various sites and I thought I’d share a question I recently answered:
The Crusades, the Inquisition, patterns of systematic child abuse by various clergy. The Biblical allowance of slavery, oppression of women, intolerance of other faiths and peoples. So much of the history of the Church and what it has (and does) stand for appears so un-Christian.
I reconcile them the same way that, as a parent, I reconcile all the horrific things done by parents through the years- child abuse, killing children, selling children into slavery, etc. I don’t immediately disavow parenting as a concept because of all the terrible things people have done in the name of parenting since time began. I mourn every perversion of what a loving parent is supposed to be and speak out against them. I don’t justify a parent who neglects or abuses their kids- it makes me angry. But, it doesn’t somehow mean that parenting, as a concept is broken and systematically hurts children.
The same is true with Christianity. I mourn every perversion of the faith. I’ve been a pastor for 8 years and if you only knew how mad I get about the systematic abuse of children by some historical denominations. Really, it just points to our brokenness as people and how easy it is for some people to neglect and abuse the faith for their own selfish gain.
If an individual on t.v. is peddling faith so he can have a personal jet, does that say something bad about that faith, or does it say something terrible about that person? That makes me angry and very sad. I would say that person is not a Christian. I would say the same thing about all the people and acts you just mentioned. I would say those people might have used the name of God as a cover, but God had nothing to do with their acts.
And, on the other hand, don’t forget that on the other side of the coin, it is men and women of faith who fought for the freedom of slaves. William Wilberforce, MLK. JR. ,etc. There are also the Free Methodists and American Baptists. They broke away from their denomination over slavery, fighting to free slaves and treat them as equals. It’s possible a perversion of faith was used to encourage slavery in some ways, but it was also true faith and love that led individuals to lay their life down to fight for equality and freedom.
These travesties make me so sad and so angry. But, I could turn my back on following Jesus in the same way I could turn my back on being a father. Those things are a perversion, but the truth of what it means to follow Jesus is something good and ideal- the same as being a father.
This was my answer to this question, but I’d love to hear yours. Please comment below with your answer.