Summary: The Church has made mistakes. We are imperfect. The narrow gate of God’s mercy and grace is needed by all. (This was a sermon preached on Palm Sunday.)
“Isn’t the Church Guilty of Oppression and Violence?”
The Case for Faith Series
(quotes taken from the NKJV unless noted)
Wakelee Church ~ Palm/Passion Sunday ~ March 20, 2005
Theme: The Church has made mistakes. We are imperfect.
The narrow gate of God’s mercy and grace is needed by all.
Introduction – Confession is Good for the Soul!
The Church has sinned…
The Crusades – Starting in 1095, the Church called for the annihilation of the Muslim World through any means necessary.
The Inquisition – Starting in 1163, the Church was called to develop a campaign of terror to root out heretics, those creating false doctrine from the church –what followed lacked any resemblance of due process with secret trials and foregone verdicts
The Salem Witch Trials ~ Starting in the late 1600’s, nineteen people were hung because of their so-called tie to witchcraft, the Church gave sanction to those events.
Exploitation by Missionaries ~ In the beginnings of missionary ministry, often what started as a mission from God, became a mission for the state. Countries were robbed of their human and natural resources for the great colonial powers. Missionaries opened the door.
Anit-Semitism ~ The Church in Germany stood by and even endorsed Adolph Hitler and the Holocaust. It wasn’t until after the war that the truth came out and the Church shamed for their involvement or lack of involvement.
And, we can see other sins of the church in this past century: racism, sexism...and the list good go on and on…. Functioning, sometimes at the behest of, and almost always starting with no response from the Christian church.
There is no doubt, we have sinned.
There is also no doubt, however, that if it weren’t for Christianity some of these events would have never ended. Throughout history, we see time and time again one person standing up and saying this is not right, and the church eventually changing its ways once they realize it too.
Ex. African Methodist Episcopal Church – broke away from the Methodist Church due to issues of racism. Today, there has been recognition of that sin, a request for forgiveness, and in time, we pray for reconciliation.
For the most part…
The Church has recognized it’s sin, and it is asking for forgiveness…
And whether its found in the words of Pope John Paul II or in our current Book of Discipline, it is evident that the church is moving toward reconciliation not away from it.
We are owning up to what we’ve done and are taking responsibility for it.
"For the occasions past and present, when sons and daughters of the Catholic Church have sinned by action or omission…may the Lord grant us forgiveness." – Pope John Paul II
“We acknowledge the United Methodist Church’s profound regret for the massive suffering and the tragic effect slavery and the transatlantic slave trade had on millions of black men, women and children.” – 2004 United Methodist Book of Discipline
“We affirm with Scripture the common humanity of male and female, both having equal worth in the eyes of God. We reject the erroneous notion that one gender is superior to another, that one gender must strive against another, and that members of one gender may receive love, power and esteem only at the expense of another…” – 2004 United Methodist Book of Discipline
I - One excuse among many: The difference between “authentic” and “cultural” Christianity.
And while many excuses are offered for our continuous ability to put ourselves into these sinful situations, the reality is that we are imperfect.
Illus. Some time ago, I wrote in article in the Marcellus News about Wakelee being an imperfect church. In the article I wrote that we are an imperfect church, filled with imperfect people, often finding ourselves doing imperfect things, as we worship, learn from, and praise our perfect Savior.
The amount of flack I caught for that article was amazing. But was even more amazing to me, were the people that complained.
You see, I believe there is a definite difference between “authentic” Christianity, having that personal relationship with Jesus Christ and “cultural” Christianity, which simply says I believe, but I’m not going to let it affect who I am.
It’s interesting to note that even Jesus said, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” – Matthew 7:21
The complaints…they came from people I believe to be “cultural” Christians. And their comments were along the line of, “How can you say that the church is imperfect? How can you readily admit that we do imperfect things? Doesn’t that bring nothing but shame upon Christianity?”
Over Christian history, when we have allowed the “culture” instead of the “narrow gate” of God’s mercy and grace, to determine our course. Then we’ve fallen prey to sin and imperfection.