Sins of our fathers

Discussion in 'Baptist History' started by JonC δοῦλος, Nov 7, 2013.

  1. JonC

    JonC
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    The Christian Post ran an article about Lutherans seeking forgiveness for the persecution of Anabaptists and for the ways in which Lutheran reformers supported persecutions with theological arguments.

    On another note, I just finished a documentary about Jan Hus. After an eight year investigation, the Catholic Church decided it was wrong to have executed Jan Hus. Pope John Paul II apologized in 1999.

    There are sins of the past: Luther, Zwingli, and Calvin supported Anabaptist execution (sword, drowning, or sword). Thousands of Christians were killed under their doctrine. The crime could be as minor as simply rejecting infant baptism. To us, this is horrific. Jan Hus strongly opposed the Catholic sale of indulgences and denied the inerrancy of the Pope. He believed in preaching in the vernacular. He is considered by many as the first Reformer (I’m torn between him and Wycliffe). He was burned at the stake in 1415.

    Slavery: The General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church declared slavery against the law of God, but also opposed its abolition and deposed a minister for preaching abolition (in 1861 the Southern presbyteries withdrew and founded their own denomination). By 1843 over a thousand Methodist ministers owned slaves. When the Baptist missionary agency refused to commission a candidate recommended by the Georgia Baptist Convention, on the grounds that he owned slaves, the SBC was born. In 1995 the SBC apologized for their role in slavery and “for condoning and/or perpetuating individual and systemic racism” in their lifetime. I suppose Methodists and Presbyterians have also.

    Now, I do understand the SBC’s need to make a statement acknowledging the evils of racism and taking responsibility for the ideologies that contributed to the formation of the convention. I understand the need for Lutherans to bridge the gap with their Mennonite neighbors. I think it important to acknowledge the failures of our past and address those offenses - particularly when there remains something of a residual effect from those failures.

    To what extent do you believe that we are accountable for the sins of our fathers and do you feel these apologies are useful tools towards reconciliation?
     
  2. DocTrinsoGrace

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    In Adam, all men sinned (Romans 5:12). In a sense, we share in all sin, for every sin is an affirmation of that original sin (cf Luke 11:47-51). I am not sure what you mean by the word "feel" here. If it has something to do with emotion, I do not know that I "feel" anything but a sadness that we might believe in the efficacy of an apology to men as a way to atone for the sins of our fathers. Perhaps the use of the word "feel" in this sense has something to do with remorse. Maybe people seek to mitigate the sense of guilt that they experience. Of course, the big problem here is that atonement has very little to do with other sinners, but has everything to do with our Holy God, our righteous Judge. Atonement is something that He has done on our behalf on the Cross (Hebrews 9:28), our only and solely sufficient atonement.

    I do not intend to demean apologies or the intentions of those who offer them. However, I think that until the vertical issue is addressed, the horizontal issues will never be resolved.
     
  3. JonC

    JonC
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    What I mean is the apology itself (both those who feel an apology is due them and those who feel a responsibility to apologize) in earthly terms. In my example, the SBC, Catholic Church, and Lutherans have apologized for wrongs committed by men representing their faith long ago. While I understand an apology is issued to perhaps bridge the gulf created by past error (in this example wrongs done Baptist congregations long gone, a pre-reformation Catholic Church, and Luther) I am not sure that this constitutes an genuine apology (other than it is a recognition of the failures of the past). Those apologizing are removed from the events/ideologies for which they are apologizing.

    So, I can understand mending relationships and overcoming the mistakes of the past. It is easier to see some cases where repercussions still extend from past events. But do we bear a responsibility, or should we feel a sense of guilt, from the sins of our fathers? Or are these apologies merely recognition of failed ideologies that have since been abandoned?
     
  4. Reformed

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    Depending on the offense an apology may be a good thing, especially when the a church or denomination's history is inexorably linked with that offense. I know Southern Presbyterians who still do not believe the institution of slavery in the United States was a sin.

    Of course these type of apologies can get out of hand. I think they should be reserved for egregious and systemic offenses towards others. The apology itself should suffice and not be accompanied by claims for reparations. What is done is done.
     
  5. Salty

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    Suppose you knew for a fact - that your GGG grandfather committed a crime against your neighbors GGG grandfather ( lets assume that puts us in the year 1890).

    Would you apoligize to your neighbor - if so, why - since you did nothing wrong.
     
  6. thisnumbersdisconnected

    thisnumbersdisconnected
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    Salty's post calls attention to the precise wrong of this concept. Today, minorities of all walks are demanding reparation payments for wrongs done to their ancestors. For what do they deserve to be paid, given they have every opportunity to grow up in this country, get the best of educations, have the best of possible work choices, are able to engage in any and all leisurely activities available, simply because they are a citizen of this country?

    Of course there are, in particular, two or three regulars on this board that will disparage that remark, saying "racism" is alive and well, but it is not. There are myriads of personal prejudice in this nation, as many of such as there are people. When those prejudices cross paths with those against whom they are held, then "reparations" must be made -- in other words, the prejudiced one needs to acknowledge the wrong-headed attitude, apologize and move on. No one deserves to become the subject of a new law, or a new domestic policy, because they might possibly encounter someone who has a personal opinion that, if reasoned out, would go unvoiced.

    Government can't legislate against personal prejudice. That's thought control. But those holding prejudices can and should be held accountable for them, but only in a moral sense. No one deserves anything for being thought poorly of due to skin color, denomination, political party, or any other trait or cause that might result in rejection but some other person. Except, that is, to receive an apology from the one expressing the misbegotten prejudice. When one thinks one is entitled to more as the result of such an encounter, when one makes claims that such isolated personal opinions are indicative of a culturally or ethnically held bigotry, one is seeking preferential treatment. One is seeking entitlement. One does not deserve either.

    Bigotry is ignorance. Ignorance will always be with us. It can't be legislated out of existence. It can only be held morally accountable, and it should be. But not with the pocketbook. Rather, with love, as Christ love the church, as He loved the world.
     
    #6 thisnumbersdisconnected, Nov 12, 2013
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 12, 2013

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