An Apology from an Embarrassed Christian to my non-Christian Friends

We American Christians are not doing a very good job of “christianing” these days. Maybe you could say we haven’t done a good job for our entire history. That would be fair.

I’m sorry. I’m really sorry.

I say this with all sincerity to you, my non-Christian friends who look at us and roll your eyes or scratch your heads or even curse under your breath. You’re right. We Christians suck at this Christian thing.

When I was in seminary, the textbook we read for our History of Christianity course began with the intro: “Throughout Christian history, our history has all too often been anything but Christian.” Yep. Anything but.

So I feel inclined to apologize on behalf of all of us who call ourselves “Christian.” We have consistently failed to act like the Christ whose name we wear.

If you know anything about us, you’ve noticed what a wide range of people, beliefs and behaviors make up this category called “Christian.” Across history. Across the globe. Across so many varied cultures, Christianity can look and act very different from one person, from one group to the next. Just here in America, we run the gamut, you’ve probably noticed.

Since this recent election, I confess I’ve been really angry at American Evangelical Political Christianity. It’s a version of Christianity that I completely reject. I’m embarrassed that such a large percentage of Evangelicals voted for a man who brazenly tramples the classic Christian values of love, kindness, compassion, forgiveness and grace. I still haven’t figured out how these Christian siblings can justify their choice.

But also since this election, I confess my own lack of love, forgiveness and grace toward people who voted differently than I. Instead of trying to understand, I too often stop up my ears and harden my heart. Instead of working toward reconciliation, I’m quick to judge others and arrogantly dismiss them as hopeless. Instead of recognizing the fears that drive them, I let my own fears overwhelm the love that should be flowing into all our brokenness.

So my own version of liberal-leaning, progressive Christianity still hasn’t prevented me from sucking at this Christian thing. And I’m afraid this has been true of too many of us progressive Christians.

Whether we Christians are from the Left or the Right or somewhere in between, we all struggle with arrogance and self-righteousness. We all have our blind spots. We all are human.

We all have consistently failed to act like the Christ whose name we wear. So again – I’m sorry. I’m very sorry.

In Christian parlance, there is another meaning for the word: “apology.” This kind of apology is a confession of our faith, an explanation of our beliefs, a description of how we are called to behave because of our faith and our beliefs.

And so – along with my heartfelt apology for all our failures – I also want to offer this apology, this explanation, this description for Christian faith: “God is Love.”

There. That’s pretty much it.

When you are talking to your Evangelical friends or family members about any of their theological or political positions, ask them how their beliefs align with this understanding of Christianity: “God is Love.”

When you are listening to your progressive friends or family members bash conservatives, ask them how their attitudes align with this understanding of Christianity: “God is Love.”

This kind of love is not a warm fuzzy feeling. This is a tough love, a stubborn grace, a bold humility. It’s a rubber-meets-the-road kindness, welcome, compassion.

Non-Christian friends, please challenge us to live in this kind of love, to live up to our faith, to practice what we preach. Instead of rolling your eyes or scratching your heads or cursing under your breath, hold us accountable to actually represent the Christ whose name we wear. You will be doing us a favor. You will be doing us all a favor.

It’s been difficult for us progressive Christians to watch American Evangelicals wield such wide political power within this current White House. It will be hard for us to see fundamentalist dogma enshrined into the politics and policies of America.

I, for one, will speak out. There are many of us Christians who have been and will continue to stand against mean-spirited, small-minded, short-sighted politics done in the name of our faith.

But I resolve to speak out and stand up in love – not with anger or fear or hate.

I resolve to keep checking my blinders at the door and forcing my eyes and my heart to stay open. I resolve to remain fully aware of my own brokenness and to live in compassion toward the brokenness of the people around me. I resolve to bear authentic witness to the Christ whose name I wear.

So this is what I ask of you: when you see me losing my resolve, call me on it. Call me back to love. May we all always keep calling each other back to love.


Charlotte Vaughan Coyle lives in Paris TX and blogs about intersections of faith, culture and politics on her website and Intersections Facebook page. You can subscribe to her blog and/or follow her on Twitter @cvcoyle. Charlotte is national president for Coffee Party USA and contributes regularly to the Join the Coffee Party Movement Facebook page.

Charlotte is an ordained minister within the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and also blogs about Scripture from a progressive Christian approach in her Living in The Story Musings.





45 thoughts on “An Apology from an Embarrassed Christian to my non-Christian Friends

  1. Thank you Charlotte for your thoughtful discussion. I grew up in”the church” and can recite with no prompts it’s failures and even occasional successes. The organized church as we have known it is a dying breed. Somewhere we have failed to maintain that very love of which you speak. Politics, greed and demands for power have infected every aspect of religion, including the Muslims as well as the Christians. Historically in this country only one view of faith became acceptable. Mass media, the powerful and the favored became the only source of “truth”. In its rush to become powerful any other view was scoffed at and reviled. Think of the Little Sisters of the Poor being sued by our government. The voices of the mass Media became the “ truth.” And many honest and faithful Christians were reviled as stupid knuckle dragging rednecks who hated all those different from themselves. Yet if you took the time to check it out you might find the same qualities as any other honest human being. Along comes a flawed candidate who actually listened to their wants and needs. He is not one of the favored class no matter how much money he has made. But he listens to the forgotten millions who have been ignored and called “deplorable” by the self serving dishonest and lying politicians who have failed their citizens in countless ways. The American people are not perfect but neither are they stupid. We have been preached to telling us we are unbelievably divided by every category imaginable. Did you watch citizens of Houston, Texas and around the country reach out to help each other in love? No government or church did that. Caring human beings did that. In terms of the President and his flaws they are well known. However if you look fairly at his actions you may discover that they are designed to reach out to all. Yes his version of government’s role is very different than our last president. Those who voted for Mr Trump are truly baffled by the absolute vitriol and hatred shown to our current President. It appears that many do not want to accept a valid election.
    What does all this have to do with love? Jesus told us to love one another, and till we start to really listen to each other we will not have a chance to get there. I have tried to describe what I have observed. Mr Trump is certainly not perfect, neither was Mr Obama although many of his supporters seem to believe he was. As a Christian I hope I have been able to shed some light on today’s morass of di vision and seething anger. Not all from one side to be sure. God help
    Us all and the country we love.❤️

    1. Hi Kevin. I admit your question startled me a bit. I frequently ask other people why they like him but I’ve never been asked why I don’t. So this is a good exercise for me.

      This is what I say in my blog as I describe him: he is “a man who brazenly tramples the classic Christian values of love, kindness, compassion, forgiveness and grace.” I see this trampling on two main levels: his public speech and his policies.

      His rhetoric is obvious: the way he publicly shames and blames others, even his friends and supporters. The way his speech affirms white superiority and promotes fear, disrespect and even violence. The way he excuses and justifies himself and never admits his mistakes. The way he threatens other nations with childish and dangerous words. His lies, his arrogance, his bullying.

      I disagree with almost every policy decision he has made so far because I see most of his actions as attempting to benefit insiders: white Christians and rich people. In my understanding, his attitudes and his behaviors exemplify the complete opposite of what I see in the values and actions of Jesus Christ.

      Here is a post by a Christian writer I respect and I pretty much agree with her assessments.

      So there’s my summary. I invite your response. What DO you like about him?

      1. May I jump in? You shared that you don’t care for our president because of very broad statements I often hear parroted in the news. But, when you get down to it, truly what don’t you like? Has his rhetoric, as childish and rude as it is, caused you to deflect away from anything positive that has happened? What has he done specifically…specifically that shows white supremacy? I could go on but I don’t think the increased jobs for those of color would agree.

        I also think we have lost sight in calling a political bent “Evangelicals” like it’s a swear word. I am Evangelical —it means Good News not political voting group. My point is to watch for the use of broad brushes to paint labels on people. To call all things said and done by our president as one overarching label of X or Y is wrong. Politics is dirty, nasty, backbiting and corrupt. We have an easy view from the outside to criticize and judge. Keeping my own house in order is my goal. Thank you for letting me share my point…sick of politics being pushed into my Christian life!

        1. Thank you Wendy for “jumping in.” I’m very happy to have this conversation with you. I begin with the Gospel, the Good News that God in Jesus Christ has entered our world and incarnated God’s love, compassion, goodness, grace … We see all God’s values demonstrated in Christ’s life-death-resurrection. As I understand faith, my task is to also embody God’s values as much as I can, constantly dying to myself and allowing Spirit to transform me more and more into God’s image.
          That means allowing God’s values to influence who I am as wife, mother, grandmother, friend, pastor, citizen, human. Everything I do and everything I am should be determined by who God is and what God does.

          That said, our government here in America is secular and our laws and policies are shaped not by Scripture but by the Constitution. Thankfully, the US Constitution aligns quite well with my own understanding of God’s values. Our founding documents bind our very diverse citizens together with common ideals of freedom, equity, liberty, justice for all. Of course America has never lived up to its ideals, but I should hope we will keep trying.

          I see this president and the current administration as aspiring to very different ideals than I see articulated by our Founders and espoused in our Bible. The recent tax law increased economic inequities and widens the gap between the very rich and all the rest of us. Current efforts to mine previously protected lands, to remove regulations that preserve our air and water and the persistent denial of climate change does not honor and care for the earth as God’s own creation. Taking full credit for economic recovery set into motion by the previous president is just one more of this president’s countless fabrications and lies. Inhumane policies of family separation at our southern border (and now violence against hungry and desperate families seeking refuge) disregards this nation’s history as welcoming of immigrants and dishonors our sisters and brothers who also are created in the image of God. His rhetoric is not just foolish and childish; it has been immensely dangerous, stoking the fires of violence, hatred and racism in people who have been given permission to act out their hatred in this Trump era.

          The man is a bully, a charlatan, arrogant, disrespectful, materialistic and hungry for power. As I say in my blog: “he brazenly tramples the classic Christian values of love, kindness, compassion, forgiveness and grace.”

          On my Intersections FB page, I regularly post articles from Conservatives and Evangelicals who speak out boldly against the policies and practices of this president and this administration. Classic Conservatism and the Grand Old Party have been co-opted by the Party of Trump. Classic Evangelicalism has been co-opted by political operatives greedy for power and influence. You don’t have to listen to me; but please take seriously authentic Evangelical and Conservative voices that are crying out against the unChristian, unAmerican and inhumane words and actions of this administration. Read the critiques articulated by Russell Moore, George Will, Michael Gerson, Max Boot, Rachel Held Evans, Jen Hatmaker, Jim Wallis, Brian McLaren, Ben Shapiro…

          And please critique your own Evangelical leaders and blame them for the current marriage between church and politics, between Evangelicals and the Republican Party. Conservative Christians before 1970 pretty much ignored politics. But then the Moral Majority and the Religious Right maneuvered this wedding that has deeply damaged the witness of the church in America and across the globe. You can thank Jerry Falwell Jr, Franklin Graham, James Dobson and Robert Jeffuss for making “Evangelical” sound like a swear word to so many non-Christians. That breaks my heart.

          Here is an interesting article I posted to Intersections not long ago. Note this quote: “Evangelicals care about the least of these, and I believe them when they say it. But then they vote for politicians that invoke policies that don’t care for the least of these.” Pastor Doug Pagitt believes many evangelicals are torn between longtime loyalty to the Republican Party and their own personal dismay at GOP policies that contradict the Bible’s call to welcome the stranger and care for the marginalized.

          Here’s another article you might appreciate: The Next Generation of Republicans.

          I will be curious to hear back from you. Please tell me why you like Trump and his policies and how you can excuse his immoralities and insults. I hope you will hang in there with me and continue this conversation. Peace, Wendy.

    2. I’ll just name one. Allowing unarmed women and children to be sprayed with tear gas at the border. Of course Trump and his followers blame Obama for this. Obama isn’t authorizing this. Supposed laws were set in place by congress during Obama’s presidency. That doesn’t make it acceptable. Trump is commander and chief and he’s allowing it to happen and his followers are applauding it. 4/5 of American Christians voted for Trump. Trump is NOT a Christian and the fact that he claims it is hypocrisy. His “Christian” followers are hypocrites for voting for him. If Obama or Clinton did this, Christians would’ve been livid.

      1. One correction, Jason: nearly 80% of White Evangelical Christians voted for Trump. Black Evangelical Christians and progressive Christians mostly did not.

    3. His lack of caring and empathy, his callousness and hatred to mankind. The fact that murder over money is more important than any morality is so unacceptable. He has no shame ! He’s a bully and brags of his intelligence which he does not have. His actions due to his own insecurity hurts us all as a nation. Thank you for your apology it is very appreciated

  2. The post was great. I was raised Christian, but honestly do not believe in organized religion. Ironically, if you really listen to a cleric from say Muslim religion or the Jewish religion – you’ll realize they all have the same underlying message with differences, of course, but for the most part the same. Organized religious labels tend to separate rather than unite.
    But I do want to say one thing – about bashing conservatives – or those that voted differently. I have struggled – immensely – with reconciling a person being “good” with their vote for Trump. And, I’m not doing a very good job at it. I can’t comprehend , regardless of any ones “fears” how such a person could be even close to acceptable – let alone win their favor of a vote. It’s incomprehensible to me that if you are a person that has love, kindness and compassion within you – that you would vote for such a horrid human being to “lead” this country.

    And, hate is a strong word – but it is also a human emotion. I have readily admitted my hate for this administration . I’m not necessarily proud of that feeling – but it’s there. However, what separates us is WHY we hate, not that we hate. I hate Trump and his administration for the pain he is inflicting upon millions. I hate for what he stands for and for policies that he puts forth that hurt the most vulnerable among us. I hate, because I love. I try not to , but I can’t help it when it comes to that man. And..I’m very angry at people that voted for him. They are as much to blame for the consequences of this administration as is the administration that carries out their horrific policy ideas (or lack thereof). They will have to live knowing they allowed it and were on the wrong side of history.

    But I will work to forgive them, as I have been working at doing (sometimes poorly) every day since the election.

    Lastly, it is politics that has turned me away from the church – but NOT from God.

    Thanks for this post…

    1. Thanks for reading and for this interesting conversation, Tara. I have family who voted for 45 and still support him. It’s strange to talk to them and hear them out because we seem to live in different realities. I can’t possibly hate these people who mean so much to me – so I try to extend that feeling to other people who (I think) are being misled and manipulated. That said, I also feel responsible to call out the manipulators and challenge them with (what I understand) the authentic gospel of self-sacrificing servant leadership. Thanks for your witness and your good heart. Peace…

      1. I too am in the same boat with regard to relatives that I love having voted for 45. I tend to dismiss their vote for him as simply being completely and totally ill informed.. and mostly because they live in a “bubble” in their world in a small town in Montana. They tend to not follow politics much at all – actually very little – and I think they voted Republican because well they always voted Republican. They also tend to be “head in the sand” people – in otherwords, they feel they have better things to worry about and they don’t really “care” so to speak about politics. I don’t have full confirmation that they voted for him… I believe some of them just didn’t vote (and I can respect that more). Part of it is the information they are fed. My cousins daughter, who, by the way, has a half black son and daughter, after the Woman’s March (and she saw my posts) started asking me about why we were wearing Pink Hats… why was Planned Parenthood involved.. etc. I explained about it all – and she then asked ME.. about Black Lives Matters and my thoughts. Which kind of shocked me. But .. then again.. they do live in a bubble – but I told her that when her children, particularly when her son, travels outside of that bubble there are certain realities he needs to be aware of etc. Some of the things that 45 said and did she didn’t even know about – or dismisses as “locker room talk” (which I quickly said there is a difference between talk and actual doing – which HE bragged about doing – and , well you know). She said she wished she would have engaged with me prior to the election. (she’s my cousin’s daughter so she is a lot younger than I). Anyway – I kind of get the whole family thing…. and I’m not angry at them really – but more sad that they live in such a bubble. None of them have ever met a Muslim or even a hassidic jew before or been exposed to the things I have being raised in NY. I actually thanked my mom for both my parents having chosen to live and raise kids in NY because the experience and exposure to people different than me has informed my decisions and my awareness for the better. (My mom was born and raised in MT, my dad in Brooklyn and he was an airmen when he met my Mom- and boy did she learn about life outside of that bubble – she’s more NY than MT these days).

        Anyway.. it was a pleasure talking with you…. and thanks again.

  3. It’s tempting to say a dollar short and a day late.
    The Christian Right didn’t appear overnight. They’ve been playing the long game since at least the 1970s…probably longer but that’s as far back as I can remember. I honestly think Christians who are suddenly surprised and dismayed are a little like the Righteous man saying, “Lord when did we see you hungry?”

    It’s also worth noting that you’re not apologising for christians. The folk on the christian right are about as christian as Trump. That is it’s little more than stick they use to hit people with. Honestly, atheists are more christian than your average evangelical American christian.

    1. Progressive Christians have been speaking out against the rising Christian Right for a long time. 1) Our voices don’t get many headlines and 2) the time is finally critical enough for us to speak louder. Time will tell if our prophetic effort makes any difference. Like I argue in my “apology,” we’re all bad at “christianing.” I try to call out behaviors that don’t match with our ideals (both as a Christian and as an American) but I’m not in a position to be able to see into anyone’s heart. Thanks for reading and for the conversation, Ian. Peace…

      p.s. You may want to read my blog/book review that examines the rise of the Christian Right.

  4. I’ve had conversations with Evangelical relatives and said that my church upbringing focused on trusting in the power of love and kindness. They challenged me to say where in the Bible it says we should trust in the power of love. Can you help me answer that?

    1. OMGoodness, Virginia! The New Testament overflows with love! Here are some scriptures but be prepared for people to argue against the plain meaning. All of us can be guilty of believing just what we want to believe.

      Mark 12:30 you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”

      Luke 6:35 But love your enemies, do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return. Your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High; for he is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked.

      Matt. 5:46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?

      Luke 11:42   “But woe to you Pharisees! For you tithe mint and rue and herbs of all kinds, and neglect justice and the love of God; it is these you ought to have practiced, without neglecting the others.

      Rom. 5:8 But God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us.

      Rom. 13:8   Owe no one anything, except to love one another; for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.

      1John 4:7   Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. 8 Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love. 9 God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might live through him. 10 In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11 Beloved, since God loved us so much, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God lives in us, and his love is perfected in us.

      1John 4:16 God IS love…

      Thanks for the conversation and thanks for your witness of love! Keep at it!

  5. The title “God” is defined in many ways. You say “God wants us to…”, but you only believe that to be true based on teachings, in your case of Jesus. So I take your meaning for a definition of God as the sum of Jesus’ teachings. I have no problem with that and agree with what you say are the intent of those teachings.

    I repeat that those teachings can be summarized as the Golden Rule. Religion has taken that good plan and complicated it with prayer, worship, vestments, churches, etc. which, I think, was not the intent of Jesus.

    An insightful movie on this theme is “A Man from Earth”. I am not agreeing with the conclusion of this quite entertaining movie, but the simplicity of Jesus’ plan comes through pretty well.

  6. Sometimes the most loving thing I can do as a Christian is to walk along side, disciple and give those who need it a hand up. That does not necessarily mean money, but a job, dignity and a purpose that God wants all of us to have.

    God also wants us to encourage, forgive, bear each other’s burdens, etc. NOT to live in disunity, envy, anger or bitterness. There is plenty of anger in this country; Christians need to love each other as commanded, even if we disagree at times.

  7. Hi Charlotte,
    Thank you for you beautiful words. I am not a Christian. I consider myself a Humanist. I agree that we are all imperfect human beings but together, no matter what faith, we will need to work against the bigotry that has infiltrated our gov’t. Discrimination against people because of religion, race, sexual preference, gender identity, sex, etc., has no place in the White House or any house. My very best friend is a Muslim-American and when she told me she didn’t want to wear her scarf in public anymore because she was scared of being harrassed, it broke my heart. The scarf she normaly wears is a part of her culture and her religion and I would never want her to be denied those things, especially here in the U.S., where our Constitution gives her and everyone else the right to religious freedom. I want freedom for all of our brothers and sisters. I would gladly stand hand in hand with you in working to snuff out hatred and intolerance. We all need love. We need love more than ever right now. Thanks for sharing your words.

    1. Hi Jacquelin, I’m so glad we are now connected. It’s great to know we stand together. I still believe there are more of us who believe in welcome and grace than there are those who practice intolerance. The coming years are an opportunity for us to make clear the cost of hate and the rewards of love. Thanks for the conversation. Peace…

  8. “Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (Roman’s 8:1, NIV)
    Blessings, Charlotte. Happy New Year!

    1. Blessings abundant back at you Arvin. Happy Hopeful New Year to you and yours.

  9. Donald is an existential threat to the human species. He’s now talking about engaging in a nuclear arms race. He’s not opposed to the proliferation of nuclear weapons. He’s stated that the USA might not live up to our NATO commitments. He’s called climate change a hoax and filled his cabinet with people who are intent on protecting their contributors fossil fuel interests. His cabinet picks generally hate the departments that they will be leading. Time for you to wake up and swallow the red pill.

    1. I don’t understand your comment about “the red pill” David. My blog clearly says I will be speaking out and standing up against damaging policies. I will be speaking out against hatred and violence. I hope you will also focus your efforts to do what you can where you are. Complaining is not enough. Thanks for your comment. Peace…

  10. Very good, but simply following the Golden Rule clarifies many defisions about helping others and avoids the pitfall of division so common in most religions. Christ taught love of our fellow man/woman, not religious doctrine.

  11. Progressive, liberal Christianity, will lead the lost to hell. Share the gospel, ‘Christian’. Let the lost know that there is a God, and He wants them to come to the saving knowledge of His Son Jesus. Think of it this way, would you rather be the world’s friend, and lie to them, in order to be like them, or, will you separate yourself, and let the world see that you really are different?

    1. Yeah, Kat…..because everyone knows that Jesus was a free market capitalist who admired greed and encouraged his followers to condemn anyone who thought differently.

      And Jesus didn’t accept Medicare or Medicaid. Before He’d heal any sick person, they had to pay cash up front. No cash, no miracle. As Jesus said, “Pull yourself up by the bootstraps!”

      If Donald Trump would’ve been around 2000 years ago, no doubt he would’ve surpassed St. Peter to run Jesus’ empire!

    2. Could you explain how the views Charlotte is expressing go against Jesus’ own words in the new testament, in which, by the way God frees us from the condemnation of the Old Testament laws through Christ’s saving grace, and in which he gives us two new commandments and proclaimed that, “All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” In other words, these two new commandments are the overarching essence that encompasses all previous law, and which when obeyed result in obedience to all the others.

      Those two commandments admonish us to love God with all our heart and soul, and to love one another as ourselves. “One another” does not stop at our family boundaries, our circle of friends and immediate neighbors, nor at community, county, state, or national borders.

      I am curious to know how following these words “…will lead the lost to hell.”

  12. I appreciate this posting, although I still bristle at the new definition of apology, being more an explanation than regret. I have been a Christian since a very young age. I learned about God and Jesus directly from the Bible, which I read daily from age 10 until adulthood, but attended “Church” very sporadically. As a young adult every time I tried to join a “Church” regularly I would invariably face serious conflicts of dogma and interpretation that I could never reconcile with my Biblical understandings. I always (and still do) likened this to the Pharisee’s and Sadducee’s, versus Jesus. That said, I have a couple of “devout” close friends who have patiently “tolerated” my unconventional faith, but with whom, because of the current elections and choices and reasons for choices, I am struggling to forgive. I very much wish to ask for [a reasonable] Christian’s point of view, if you can spare a response.
    Given that, as it sounds, you and I have similar thoughts on how God, Jesus, Love, action and responsibility stand on these elections, and clearly many of our friends somehow justify a different loyalty but nonetheless want my/our tolerance/forgiveness/blessing, whatever… Given this wish to find a common place to re-connect, I would like to understand how you and/or doctrine Christians feel about two specific situations: (a) What is the position of Christians and presumably Jesus’ disciples to Peter’s thrice denials of Jesus, when he was most needed? Is there bind forgiveness/tolerance/blessing since eventually Peter was repentant? And would this forgiveness have been contingent on the fact that he did repent? (b) Same question, but for Judas Iscariot. What is the position of Christians on JudasI, do we embrace him in loving forgiveness, know that ultimately his actions were part of God’s big plans, and therefore his part in facilitating the haters and betrayal is kind of a moot side issue?
    I do not know you, but I have been struggling with these two questions, and no one safe to ask, from my side of the progressive Christian isle. I would very much appreciate your thoughts.
    Thank you.

    1. Hi Angela, thanks for reading and for your thoughtful comments and questions. I don’t know if I can adequately address your concerns; it may take some more extended dialogue. Let me know if you are interested in a private email conversation.

      First, to the question about the word “apology.” You can see I use both meanings of the word in my blog. I am apologizing for our widespread failure within Christianity to live up to the life and teachings of Christ; I am sorry that we don’t proclaim and live out the good news of God’s love in Christ any better than we do. That use of the word is what we are most familiar with in today’s world. But the other ancient meaning of the word is valid as well. To “make an apology” is to make a defense, to present an argument and make a justification for a belief. It’s an old, formal use of the word that isn’t often used these days. You can find that definition in just about any dictionary.

      Now to your question about Peter and Judas (an excellent probing question indeed!) Here is where I feel inadequate to talk about this in this kind of venue. It’s a complex question with no easy answer.

      There is no one Christian explanation of the stories of Peter’s denial and Judas’ betrayal. Even today you can find all kinds of positions and interpretations. Here is mine (at least in part.)

      I begin with Jesus himself. All four of the gospels recite Jesus’ teachings about forgiveness; we are to forgive others. Period. But only Luke tells a story about Jesus forgiving the very people who crucified him. (see Luke 23:34) Jesus’ forgiveness was not at all contingent upon the repentance or apologies of the ones who killed him; Jesus proclaimed God’s amazing grace to all of those (all of us) who are completely undeserving.

      That said, only the gospel of Matthew talks about the end of the story of Judas and Matthew specifically says Judas repented for betraying Jesus. (see Matthew 27:3) Matthew also tells that the religious leaders specifically rejected Judas’ repentance. In my opinion, this unforgiveness is the reason for Judas’ hopelessness and eventual suicide.

      God’s people all too often do not live up to God’s call for both grace and justice. We fail again and again. Hence my “apology” for our failures as Christians and my “apology,” defense, argument that “God is love” – in spite of our failure to love.

      I have no idea if this helps Angela. I look forward to hearing back from you and continuing our conversation if you want to. Peace…

    2. Angela and Charlotte,

      Jesus forgave Peter and Judas before their actions were even carried out. He knew what they would do, but he also knew that it was the way things had to happen. When you are firm in your faith, you know that people are going to hurt you, and that bad things will happen, and that it has to happen. Jesus was the son of God and he saw this very clearly. We must continue to remind ourselves of this: When bad things happen to us, it is God’s will, and it is to prepare us to fulfill His purpose for us. Do not be discouraged, and do not neglect to forgive those put in your life to guide you; whether their intentions are good or bad, wrong or right–God is using them to sharpen you and make you into the person He wants you to be. It’s all a part of the plan.

      In the case of this election, I will say I didn’t want it to happen. It reflects poorly on our country, our culture, and our Christianity. But when we are firm in our faith, we also know that everything that happens is God’s will. For those who say Trump’s victory will mean the destruction of our country, I can only say, then God wants to see our country destroyed.

      The arrogance that Charlotte mentioned in her article leads us to believe that we deserve a perfect country with perfect Christian people in it. But we know that sin will persist as long as we are on this earth, and we will all be tempted by it, and Satan has many ways of deceiving us. Just because some of us refused to be deceived by Trump and what he represents, we are still deceived in other ways. That is why it is your duty to continue to extend grace to those whose political interests you vehemently protest…as God has extended that grace to you.

    3. From someone raised Christian – although maybe not as familiar with the Bible as you – I do offer my take on religion, Christianity and the like. You see.. I felt “uncomfortable” in Church as well. I had an issue with a God that was angry and brought down wrath with what I knew in my heart – that God is Love. I recognized that those emotions were negative human emotions – God doesn’t carry that .. we do.

      That being said – God is all things. He’s in all things. That means he’s also in any and all religions. See.. …religion and belief is extremely personal. To think there is one true path to god is narcissistic – and to think that YOUR path – the path YOU chose – is the right way and others are wrong is…well strange to me.

      Why not – ALL religions are right.. because they are a personal truth in the experience of life (experiencing for God – as we ALL make up God as a collective).

      The ONLY time religion is wrong – is when it is used to justify hate and oppression. And may have twisted faiths, including Christianity, to use as justification for their horrid behavior, actions or positions. There is nothing righteous in the Christian right as there is nothing righteous in Muslim extremism. Muslim extremism no more represents the Muslim faith, than nazi and white supremacists or the christian right in this country represents Christianity. Hindus aren’t wrong, Buddhists aren’t wrong, Muslims aren’t wrong, Christians aren’t wrong, Wiccans aren’t wrong (Wicca is about the feminine principle of god, by the way), Judiasm isn’t wrong. As long as what they are walking is in love and kindness – they are all right and until we all recognize and respect that we won’t have peace. God lives in your heart and what is right within you.. and your own personal truth, may not be the same for someone else. That doesn’t make you more right, them wrong.. you more righteous and them not.

  13. Just give up this hideous religion, in fact, all religion is a figment of imagination meant originally to belittle and de-humanize women. Now it dehumanizes every person who isn’t like oneself. Santa Clause, Easter bunny, pink ponys, Jesus. All bunk that is tearing this country and this world apart. Christianity is merely a political party meant to beat people down with hate. I look forward to the day when all religion is dead and gone, then our world will be at peace.

    1. Looks like you and I will have to agree to disagree, Mark. I will argue that it’s the perversion of religion that creates all the problems you cite. Humans will always turn to religion in some form or another – for community, for comfort, for the good of humanity. When we start doing religion correctly, faithfully, THEN the world might find peace.

      1. You’re an amazing Human Charlotte,
        I sincerely think that you have missed the point of religion. When one studies the bible as I have for most of my life, one is left with the default position of non-belief. Historically the bible has been re-written a minimum of three times. The archaeological evidence proves it. The bible is a book. It is no more or no less relevant than the works of Shakespeare. Religion and God were both invented to control a population, that’s religion. I know you’ll never stop looking for the truth. Like me, I suspect you are a truth seeker and that’s why i’m unafraid to address you here.
        Pete. Cheers 🙂

        1. Thank you for your comment and critique Pete; I appreciate the conversation. I, too, have studied the Bible, argued with it, dismissed and dissected it. But unlike you, I guess, it has driven me to my knees. By something like the genius of Shakespeare, I must engage it over and over again in order to come to any sort of understanding of “truth.” I am both content and restless with this search. I trust the effort is not neat or simple while at the same time I acknowledge that “religion” and “faith” are not always synonyms. This is all journey; I am not where I have been and I hope I am not where I will some day be. This is all grace; a mystery in which (I believe) all humanity experiences and stands in awe. Peace….

      2. Doing religion correctly and faithfully has never happened and never will. This is because none of you can agree on what “correct” religion is. You have been killing each other and anyone who disagrees with you for two millennia. There is no reason to believe this is going to change. It’s beyond time to bury a set of very bad ideas that lead to horrible actions.

    2. I must agree with Charlotte. My daughter recently asked me how we can believe in a religion that asks women to be domesticated servants. That’s not what the Bible asks of us, at all. The message has been distorted to fit the agenda of those in power. If you read the gospels and you get a sense of who Jesus was, you know that his ways bring us the exact kind of peace for which you are hoping.

  14. Bill forwarded your blog to me and I really enjoyed it. Love IS the answer and God IS love. That is my definition of God and always has been. If we continue to divide ourselves with hatred, anger, judgement and disgust we are doomed.

    As Arthur says each Sunday in closing – ” Love those you love and even those you don’t”. That’s not quite right, but you know what I mean.

        1. God is evolution. Everything that religion plagiarizes from Humanity actually originated in evolution – the process of chance and necessity.
          Cheers – Pete. 🙂

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