Sunday, May 30, 2010

Apologies Can Be So Glib

Here are a few apologies made by celebrities both inside and outside the church.

1. "I did have a relationship with Miss ____ that was not appropriate. In fact it was wong. I misled people, including even my wife. I deeply regret that."
2. "As many of you know, my previous marriage has endured years of unresolved conflicts. I apologize that it has ended in divorce. . . . .The reason for the silence was for my need of healing."
3. "It was not done in the spirit of meanness. However, innocent and unintended, it was wrong. . . .I tried to express as much regret as I could for an injury."
4. "It was completely inappropriate, and we can understand why people are offended. Our characterization was thoughtless and stupid, and we are sorry."
5. "I have spent the last five days of my life crying in Argentina. I am committed to trying to get my heart right. The bottom line is I have been unfaithful to my wife. . . ."
6. "Did I make a mistake by putting myself in circumstances that could be misconstrued? Of course I did. That goes without saying. Did I do anything immoral? Absolutely not."

These apologies all lack something essential if they come from a believer and they almost remind me of the rote apologies in Lois Lowry's book "The Giver". Lowry created a conforming society where there is no war, feelings of love (families are arranged) and pollution (characters drive bikes). Guilt, regret and forgiveness are mechanistic. Jonas says "I apologize for making you wait" and Fiona replies "I accept your apology."

Does the public so easily accept the aplogies in the above statements (in order) of President Clinton, Lakeland Revivalist Todd Bentley, Rev. Jesse Jackson, radio show host Imus, South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford, and politician Gary Hart? Probably not. We tried to impeach Clinton for his delay and cover-up that plagued his second term. Bentley never mentions adultery or the healing scams investigate by the media. Jackson would be clearly offended by the "N" word but hypocritically is not at all clear in apologizing for his Jewish insult. Imus uses "we" and "our" rather than "I". Sanford at best has an admission, but not an apology and is in Argentina now with his mistress. And Gary Hart is as wishy-washy as Bill Clinton.

Mark Driscoll spoke/wrote on what repentence is not here. So what is repentence? Can we pinpoint examples?

In 2007 the senate investigated the "Prosperity Gospel Ministers" such as Kenneth Copeland, Benny Hinn, Joyce Meyer, and Randy and Paula White. I appreciate a former TV evangelist, Jim Bakker, who did admit: "The more I studied the Bible, however, I had to admit that the prosperity message did not line up with the tenor of Scripture. My heart was crushed to think that I led so many people astray." Baker served time for his decisions, but not for the adultery that was reportedly set up by Jimmy Swaggart whose own apology is clearly biblical for his immorality and use of meth: "I have sinned against you, my Lord, and I would ask that your precious blood would wash and cleanse every stain until it is in the seas of God's forgiveness." I am not a fan of Bakker or Swaggart, but do appreciate the wording of their confessions.

So what is missing biblically in so many of these apologies? Clear confession of sin and seeking of forgiveness and planning for restitution and reconciliation. Christ says in Luke 17 that if people sin against us (slander in the 9th commandment, adultery in the 7th commandment for example) we can rebuke them. If they repent, we can forgive them and restoration is on the way. In this ongoing process, however, if they don’t repent, we need to forgive as Christ has forgiven us. The Lord’s prayer says Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors. We are called to love our enemies anyway. It’s the biblical thing to do—confession and forgiveness and reconciliation.

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