Collective Guilt

Self-Portrait ~Rembrandt~


Remember back in February, the remarks the president made at the National Prayer Breakfast? Remember this reasoning in particular?…

“We see sectarian war in Syria, the murder of Muslims and Christians in Nigeria, religious war in the Central African Republic, a rising tide of anti-Semitism and hate crimes in Europe, so often perpetrated in the name of religion…And lest we get on our high horse and think this is unique to some other place, remember that during the Crusades and the Inquisition, people committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ.  In our home country, slavery and Jim Crow all too often was justified in the name of Christ.” – President Barack Obama, February 5, 2015

I have so many questions I would want to ask here. Who justified slavery and Jim Crow in the name of Christ? Who were they? Slave owners, I’m guessing. Segregationists. If I lived back then, would I recognize them as my brother’s and sisters in Christ, or would they look similar to people today who justify horrific treatment of human beings in the name of the Lord?

Thank you, Planned Parenthood.  God bless you.  God bless America.  Thank you.” – President Barack Obama, 2013

Just a quick search on Google and I found a Pro-Choice Action Network article entitled The Bible is Pro-Choice. What they neglect to point out in all the verses regarding miscarriages is that all of the “choice” regarding life belongs to God and is under his command. We don’t get to make that choice.

“They are saying that it would make it a federal law that there be no abortion in the United States…You are taking an extreme case (Gosnell). I think what happened in Philadelphia was reprehensible….But let me tell you something. As a mother of 5 children…As a practicing and respectful Catholic, this is sacred ground to me when we talk about this. I don’t think it should have anything to do with politics.” – Nancy Pelosi, 2013

Sacred ground. It must be in the bible somewhere, because she says she regards it highly. So, she must read it:

“My favorite word is The Word, is the Word and that is everything. It says it all for us. You know the biblical reference, you know the gospel reference of the Word and that Word is …we have to give voice to what that means in terms of public policy that would be in keeping with the values of the Word. The Word. Isn’t it a beautiful word when you think of it? It just covers anything. Fill it in with anything you want, but of course we know it means the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us. And that’s the great mystery of our faith. It will come again. So, we have to make sure we are prepared to answer in this life or otherwise as to how we measured up.” – Nancy Pelosi, 2010

Wait. I thought she said the sacred and politics shouldn’t go together. I’m confused.

So, as a pro-life Christian, praying for the abolition of the slave, uh…I mean ABORTION trade, I don’t recognize the president, Nancy Pelosi or pro-choice activists as being kin to me, spiritually speaking, as part of the body of Christ. Or, perhaps I might be persuaded to see them as brothers and sisters caught in sin, deceived and in error. In February, after the president’s unfortunate remarks regarding the crusades and slavery to guilt Christians into shutting up about ISIS, there was much discussion about what exactly modern day Christians should do and say publicly about anything! This particular article by Rod Dreher caught my eye: When ISIS Ruled the American South. Among other things, Mr. Dreher details a horrific lynching in Waco Texas and quotes Bill Moyers’ response to ISIS in light of that story:

“Yes, it was hard to get back to sleep the night we heard the news of the Jordanian pilot’s horrendous end. ISIS be damned! I thought. But with the next breath I could only think that our own barbarians did not have to wait at any gate. They were insiders. Home grown. Godly. Our neighbors, friends, and kin. People like us.”

Rod Dreher responds:

“We all need to know these things, and face down what our ancestors did. These weren’t Crusaders sacking Constantinople. These were our fathers, grandfathers, and great-grandfathers, doing it to the fathers, grandfathers, and great-grandfathers of our black neighbors. Attention must be paid. That may be the only atonement available now, but it’s better than what we have had, which is nothing.”

Atonement? That is simply not possible. We are completely inadequate for making any sort of atonement of any kind, in any measure. Mr. Dreher says there has been none up to this point. I’m curious what works he would deem worthy of being called atonement. He says “attention must be paid”, but that nothing has been done up to this point. That isn’t true. It is also completely ineffective. Attention must be paid, yes. But it’s to Jesus. The only response available to ANY of us is to bow our knee and confess that Jesus is Lord…and then shut up. Every one of us, and especially the ones who talk for a living. Talk of atonement for any historic wrongs is ridiculous considering the atrocity of the abortion trade we have witnessed this week in the news. We have no means available to us to atone for past sins of long-dead ancestors, but we can certainly ourselves stop killing and abusing this generation. Our own debt to God over that abuse is endless, but is it ‘our’ debt, in the collective? Am I guilty of abortion, when I have prayed and fought against it with my votes and voice? Will generations of Christians after us be punished, because the words of “Christian” politicians are on record forever, praising the slave trade…*cough*…I mean abortion trade? Is that justice? What possible atonement would future Christians have to offer? And who in the world would they offer it to? When you kill your children, there are no descendants.

So, after Rod Dreher’s article was published, he put it up on Twitter and I replied. Another blogger picked up the conversation and wrote about it here. Mr. Dreher decided to write another article entitled Guilt vs. Implication. I’m assuming he did because you cannot discuss these things at length on Twitter, but seeing as how he blocked me from following him and it appears he won’t post my comments, I don’t think he wants a discussion. In his “Guilt” article, he says:

“In the Commedia, Dante could not unwrite the lines of poetry of his past. But what he did, as the reader discovers, is take his writing with greater moral seriousness, realizing that his words, and his actions, affect more people and their fates than he once knew. That’s the modest point I’m making here.”

Hmm…moral seriousness.

“We are not guilty, but we are implicated; how can we not be? We are of this place and these people. Their story is our history. The fact that some people wish to use history as a cudgel to achieve power or to absolve themselves of their own implication in dirty doings, either in the past or the present, is regrettable, and must be resisted. However, we still must look at the past — our past — squarely, and do whatever is right to atone, even if true justice is not possible in time.”

No. There is a fundamental misunderstanding of the gospel of Christ in this pursuit of atonement. This pursuit is the social gospel, which is not good news. These are dead works…as in, not alive. We cannot make atonement for past wrongs. Only Jesus can do this. All we like sheep have gone astray. Every man has turned to his own way. None are righteous. No, not one. We cannot atone. There is only one name under heaven by which we may be saved, healed, justified, sanctified, forgiven and cleansed. This is done when we repent and trust Christ. Repent and trust Christ. We have nothing to offer current day descendants over the murderous abuse of their ancestors, except Christ…and THEN let’s pray and stand against the current evil blood-bath on earth, wherever we may find it, not for atonement, but because we are the only ones today, free to do so, in Christ alone. Not our ancestors. Not our descendants. Us. Right now.

“…For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” – Ephesians 6:12


    • Keith, Thank you! I did read that the day you posted it, and it was intriguing. So, I read many of the other posts from this year about this same subject. The entire conversation on the blog is informative and entertaining. I considered writing more about it, but I’m hesitant to give it any more attention. Besides, you guys over there at Est Quod Est are doing a thorough job. 🙂

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