The self-flagellating church: When repentance goes wrong


It has become de riguer these days for the church to apologize for all its various sins, usually the mistreatment of others and to recognize how these actions have set-up walls against evangelization. This is good and necessary work, we’ve brought it on ourselves, but I fear it comes with a dark side.

There are at least three potential downsides that I see:

  • We do it just because it has become culturally expected of us, even if we don’t actually believe we need to repent of anything, and thus we become hypocrites;
  • We repent of something we do acknowledge we have done wrong, but then feel a sense of pride at our actions, thinking we’ve done something extraordinary that deserves accolades; and
  • We see repentance as a one time event and move on never giving it a second thought. Rather, we should see it as a process and the very work of Christ is too lead others to repentance by using our brokenness as an example. Not because we are enslaved by it, but because we are freed by it.

So, yes, we have much to repent of as a church, but we must not wallow in either the misery of it or the pridefulness of doing it. There is work to do.

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