What do you have to say about all the oppression, wars, inquisitions, hatred, and violence done through the centuries to people and nations and minorities in the name of Christianity?
History is assuredly littered with horrible atrocities committed by people against other people. And sadly, many of these atrocities have been committed by people who profess to be Christian. The real problem, however, is not Christianity, but SIN. Every person and people group on this planet has its share of guilt for sins of omission and commission. It is SIN that causes one race to thinks itself superior to others; it is SIN that produces lust in our hearts, that motivates us to use people for our own gratification. It’s SIN that produces greed and selfishness, that causes us to lust for power so we can dominate others and force our views on them or abuse them. Not all who profess Christianity are earnest Christians. And none of us who is earnest is without sin. But those of us who have come to know Jesus Christ and take seriously His call to serve Him are not proud of the evil that has been done in His name. As a matter of fact, we are deeply ashamed, and we certainly have a lot of repenting to do.
I once participated in a forum on university campus called “Christianity and Homosexuality: Different Points of View.” I began my presentation with this: “The first thing I want to say is how sorry I am for the hatred and violence that some Christians have demonstrated toward those in the homosexual community. We have not represented Jesus Christ well, and I am very sorry. Please forgive us.” One church I pastored hosted the “Many Nations, One Voice” Celebration where 700 people, perhaps as many as half of whom were Native Americans from numerous tribes, joined in celebrating our unity in Christ’s love. On the opening night, I and several other Christian pastors and leaders made a presentation to the Wiyot Tribal Chairperson and Council. We publicly apologized and repented for the horrible massacre of the Wiyot people that occurred in February, 1860. Although we were not personally responsible for this atrocity, we felt we should take responsibility in part for the failure of Christian people and churches in our area who did little if anything to bring the killers to justice. We presented the Tribal Chair with a check for $1,000, a first-fruits gift toward partnering with the Wiyots to build a Center of Remembrance on the island near the marina where the massacre took place. Our church and other churches gave substantially, with no strings attached. These are two examples of something that is happening all over the world now, as Christians are taking responsibility for our failures in the past, and are trying to rectify them to the degree we can. We are definitely trying.
To be fair, it has to be pointed out also that often critics of Christianity are guilty of being historically selective. Yes, there are faults and mistakes we have made. But there are also countless positive examples where Christians have done wonderful things, caring for the least and the last and the lost. Mother Theresa was a Christian, as was Martin Luther King, and many nameless others who have fed the hungry, clothed the naked, visited those in prison, befriended the friendless, stood for justice, loved the unlovely. Christians today are among the most generous people on the earth, giving billions of dollars every year to help those in need, regardless of their nationality, race, or creed. We should all remember, when digging up history about this group or that, or this event or that, that LOVE, not hate, is the force that binds us together. It is LOVE that covers a multitude of sins, LOVE that enables us to forgive and be reconciled. God in His love has provided the remedy for our sin problem. Through Christ’s self-giving love and self-sacrificing death on the cross for our sins, we can all find forgiveness, deliverance, reconciliation, and eternal life. Something to be thankful for. Thank You, Jesus!