I’ve written posts here about crazy’s like the westboro cult. I am no friend to those who take God’s word and use it to spread hatred and evil towards others. There are those who proclaim to believe in Christ who seem incapable of sharing any of His love and compassion on others. I do not go easy on those who ruin our testimony this way. However, there is another side to things that becomes equally damaging. It is the side that apologizes for things God’s word says.
It usually starts with apologizing for others misuse of God’s word. I think that is good. The world needs to see that we strive to keep our own camp in check, and for any who go off as a vigilante, that they are treated as such by the rest of us. The world needs to see that we do indeed acknowledge that evil men used our beliefs for evil purposes. However, there is a fine line there. Many go too far and essentially apologize for their own beliefs.
I don’t apologize for the truth. I don’t apologize for the conviction it has on the hearts of sinners. I do not apologize for the offense of the gospel. I do not even apologize for the “darker” parts of Scripture. Too many people want to apologize on God’s behalf when he sent his people to fight others. Too many people want to apologize for God’s action on killing the firstborns in Egypt. Too many people want to apologize for the deaths that were at His hand. Too many people want to apologize for his high standards. Too many people want to apologize for the exclusive means for salvation that were still provided for all who wished to hear.
Why do we feel the need to apologize for things in Scripture? Why do we become so embarrassed at some of the actions of God? There are a few key reasons that I have stumbled across as I wrestle with this topic.
1. We don’t know how to explain the hard stuff in the Bible. Why exactly did God allow for the deaths of those who we assume were innocent? Why is God’s standard so high? Why does He not appear so merciful in different parts of the Bible? We aren’t sure how to answer these questions when they are asked to us so instead we feel the need to apologize for it. It seems like an easier explanation. If we apologize for how these actions make people feel then we seem to portray that we don’t really agree with these parts of Scripture. There are two problems with this. One is that we look like a flip flopper to the outside world. By trying to make them happy we actually come off looking worse. The second reason is closest connected. Throwing out parts of Scripture means there is nowhere to stop. What parts are really accurate? How can we decide what was truly said, and what was just made up over time?
2. We don’t want to offend loved ones. Some of us may not care what the average stranger thinks of us, but maybe we have family or close friends who disagree with our views. Maybe they live differently than they do. Maybe you feel pressured to waver to avoid the risk of appearing self-righteous. I want to make this clear folks. Following God and his standard does not make you self-righteous. Don’t let others guilty feelings over your actions make you feel like you need to apologize for trying to live for God. It’s one thing to expect an unbeliever to act like a saved person, but it is entirely another to be saved and live as one with that change.
3. We apologize for things in Scripture that we don’t really agree with ourselves. This is the hard one to swallow. If you find yourself saying things like, “Well that idea is from Paul’s letters which aren’t really as important anyway.” Then you need to ask yourself what your real issue is with the content. All Scripture is God breathed. We need to stop with this whole tier system view of Scripture. Now it is true that all Scripture has its appropriate context, but it is all important.
4. We misunderstand what Scripture is saying. Now like all the other points this may not be the case in every situation, but I see it happen often. An unbeliever gets a believer into a corner on an issue that seems to show God as unkind, sadistic, or evil. We begin to look at that Scripture through the interpretation of someone who does not even believe it is God’s word, and thus struggle to stand up for it. An example would be Joshua leading the conquest into the promise land. Many people wrongly suggest that God was ordering massacre and extinction of a whole people group that was originally in that land. Don’t be fooled by this though because anyone who tells you this clearly only read closely a grand total of maybe two chapters in Joshua. If they had bothered with the full context they would have noticed quite a few things. Such as God driving out many of the people in the land before Israel ever arrived so that they would not face the conquest, multiple people living in the land who defected and acknowledged God as the one true God, God’s kindness on those who defected realizing who He was, the clear orders from God to only destroy three specific cities no matter what, all other cities needed to be given the option to surrender with being attacked as the absolute last resort. In the end all context needs to be thrust into the fact that it is God’s creation and he decides who can be where. He would later drive Israel out of the land for a very similar disobedience towards God that the original inhabitants had.
We need to be kind, and we need to speak the truth in love. I will not apologize for that truth though. I will show respect and I will show compassion, but I will speak the truth. I will not cower at the expectations to appease those who may be offended by it. I will seek to understand the truth in its full context rather than be swayed by others interpretations to it that try to portray God as evil and sadistic. God does not need me to apologize for Him. Why should you?