Thursday, January 14, 2010

An Apology to My Unbelieving Friends

There has been a lot of talk over the past couple of days about comments made by well-known Christian personality, Pat Robertson regarding what he sees as the reason Haiti was hit by such a devastating earthquake. I do not intend to respond to those comments in particular. Donald Miller has already done that about as well as anyone I know of.

What I do want to say is a word to my unbelieving friends about the larger pattern of comments and attitudes expressed by many Christians over the years that contain the same kind of ignorance, brokenness and sometimes, hatred and fear. Actually, I want to say two words. I'm sorry.

On behalf of followers of Jesus everywhere, I really am sorry for the kinds of words and attitudes you may have encountered from people who say they are followers of Jesus, and for the way they have represented God. I meet people every week who have such a negative attitude toward the church and people of faith because somewhere along the way, they have encountered religious people who have responded to them in anything but a Christ-like manner.

So if you have been met by persons who because they were Christians thought they were better than you, or of more value than you, or more loved by God than you, I'm sorry. I know that happens. It should not. And I am so sorry.

I think what happens sometimes is that a lot of really broken people who are desperate to find something to bring order to their lives embrace the idea of the Christian faith. But instead of being transformed by his love and grace and becoming people who live as Jesus lived, they use their faith as a way to control their lives and the lives of those around them, as Miller suggests in his response.

But this is not the way of Jesus.

Some of you may think that religion is the thing that makes people that way. All I can say is that there are far too many examples of Christ-followers who are made more loving, compassionate, open-handed and grace-filled as a result of following Jesus than such a claim would allow. And I would offer this challenge. If all religions including Christianity, went away tonight, do you think humans would stop judging, killing, stealing from, be jealous of, abusing, oppressing or manipulating each other?

Humans are what we are, regardless of the religions or philosophies we embrace. My personal experience of Christianity is that it exposes the darkness in my heart, brings me to the point of repentance, and then empowers me to change and become more like the one I follow, although very imperfectly so far.

So let me add my voice to those who say Pat Robertson does not speak for all, and really not even most Christians. And please know that I, and the vast majority of those who follow Jesus, believe you are valued and loved by God as much as anyone on earth. Grace and peace to you.


  1. Thank you. You have just expressed what right now are the feelings of millions of Jesus's followers.

  2. No, not all inhumane activity would cease immediately if all religion was to disappear. What would happen is that those who behave inhumanely would no longer be able to use divine inspiration as an excuse for their inhumane behavior. They would have to accept responsibility for their actions instead of blaming their god's edicts and commands.

  3. jeber - Your experience of humanity and Christians may lead you to believe what you say. No doubt you can point to many examples. I can too. But my own thought is that people who behave inhumanely blame whatever primary influence on their lives - real or imagined - they believe will mitigate or release them from all responsibility or accountability. God is handy in that way, but there are just too many inhumane irreligious people as well to make much of a case that inhumanity is the fault of religion per se.

  4. Very well said, Alan. Thanks. Sharing this on Facebook. :)