Friday, October 10, 2008

Apology

I've had lots of requests to post the "apology" that I read this weekend at church. It's from a page in my prayer journal over ten years ago, dated 9-2-98:

I feel the need to ask for forgiveness, whether it is forgiveness from God, or from or from the millions of people who have been offended by the church I am unsure:

I need to ask forgiveness for the ongoing corruption of the church at large since the early days of the church, for I believe that it is a sin to use the church for personal or political gain.

I need to ask forgiveness for every boring church event, church service, or sermon since the creation of the church, for I believe that it is a sin to bore people with the good news of Jesus Christ.

I need to ask forgiveness for the silence of the European church during the Jewish holocaust, and of the American church during the years of slavery, for I believe that it is a sin for the church of God to sheepishly stand by while innocent people die.

I need to ask forgiveness for the subtle, unspoken belief that we created God in our own image as opposed to embracing our own created-ness, for I believe that it is a sin to deny the power, mystery, and miracle that is God.

I need to ask forgiveness for the weight of rules and legalism that has shackled the church, making it oppressively boring and guilt-centered, for I believe that it is a sin to deny people their freedom in Christ.

I need to ask forgiveness for every right wing political zealot who has ever advocated violence against innocent people in the name of Christ, for I believe that it is a sin to judge in the place of God.

I need to ask forgiveness for every sidewalk and soap-box preacher who has so much as cracked upon a Bible with anger or pride in his heart, for I believe that it is a sin to misrepresent the character of a loving God.

I need to ask forgiveness for every cult leader and extremist group leader who has ever led people astray in the name of Christ, for I believe that it is a sin to desire the position of Jesus as the head of the church.

I need to ask forgiveness for every preacher who has thought with his zipper, or his wallet, or his ego, for I believe that it is a sin to lead the church while consumed with unconfessed sin.

I need to ask forgiveness for the millions of men in the church who have somehow stretched the Word of God to validate their own sexist views, for I believe that it is a sin to dishonor a woman.

I need to ask forgiveness for the thousands of church splits and denominational factions that have ripped the body of Christ in every direction except heavenward, for I believe that it is a sin to bring disunity to the body of Christ.

I need to ask forgiveness for the thousands of churches who are set up as extravagant social clubs, for I believe that it is a sin to ignore the poor and hurting among you.

I need to ask forgiveness for every misspent dime that was ever placed in an offering basket, for I believe that it is a sin to waste an old lady’s tithe.

I need to ask forgiveness for the prostituting of the American church and the American minister to the American dream, for I believe that it is a sin for the church or her leaders to love money more than God.

I need to ask forgiveness for every self-centered, self-proclaimed “miracle worker” who has sold people counterfeit hope and light and fluffy theology for $19.95 plus shipping and handling, for I believe that it is a sin to spit in the face of God.

I need to ask forgiveness for every pastor or teacher who has ever stepped in front of their congregation without preparing or praying or confessing their sin, for I believe that the sin of the leader somehow mysteriously thwarts the growth of the local church.

I need to ask forgiveness for every sin of every priest, pastor, minister, reverend, teacher, elder, deacon, pope, nun, monk, missionary, Sunday school teacher, worship leader, apostle, prophet, and church member from the inception of the church until this very second, for I believe that sin is the problem with the church.

And lastly for me: For my sin - my pride, my anger, my laziness, my lack of faith, my lack of mercy, my over-analysis of life, my immaturity, my depraved heart that is bent to evil. Forgive me, if you can, for I am a sinner. Blame me and others like me for a messed up church that has done more than its share of evil deeds. Blame me if you have to, but don’t blame the church whom I love. The church is perfect in theory, perfect in origin and, sometimes, even perfect in practice. Our sin corrupts her, but she never folds. Our pride limits her growth, but she never dies. For, she is the Bride of Christ - perfect before him. She is the Body of Christ-his hands, his feet, and his tears. And she is the voice of hope in a hopeless world.

4 comments:

Jim said...

back at you teacher

is that a spiritual enema or what?

confession is good for the soul.

I guess my asking for forgiveness for being sarcastic to leaders and also being not respectful to leaders.

Please forgive me for not responding to past present and future messages.

Please forgive me for my being comfortable sitting in that padded cup holding chair in the audience.

Pete said...

weird! I was just talking to a friend today about posting christian confession videos on youtube! maybe God wants us to do this?

Helen Ann said...

WWWOOOWWW! Awesome! I am going to share this on my blog!

J. R. Miller said...

Hi, I have been reading for a short while, but have not done a lot of posting. I hope you don't mind, but I have some questions regarding one of your apologies.

You wrote, "I need to ask forgiveness for the silence of the European church during the Jewish holocaust, and of the American church during the years of slavery, for I believe that it is a sin for the church of God to sheepishly stand by while innocent people die."

A couple facts..

In Europe, all of the priests and members of the church who did stand up against Hitler were either imprisoned, exiled or killed. Of course their voice was not heard, but many in the church died in opposition to Hitler and many worked underground to help the Jews.

Also, it is the same in America and Europe when it comes to slavery. Many in the church worked hard to abolish slavery and many sacrificed much for that cause.

So given these historical realities, I have two questions.

First, why do you apologize for "the church" as a whole without recognizing those who sacrificed so much? You make the absolute blanket statement that "the church was silent", so do you think those who stood up against these horrible things do not count as "the church"? Why or why not?

Second, since you have taken on yourself to apologize on behalf of those who were sinful in their silence, or active participation, do you also accept the thanks on behalf of those who were obedient and worked against these evils? Why or why not?

I look forward to reading more brother.