Letter to the Editor: From a Christian Bucknellian

Dear Bucknell,

I want to apologize for what happened the other day when those preachers came to campus.  I am a member of the Christian community here at Bucknell.  Although we were not responsible for what happened on Wednesday of last week and could do nothing to stop it, I feel that it is our responsibility to respond.  I beg your forgiveness for some of the things said in this overall rather offensive sermon and in general for all the wrongs that have been done by Christians in the name of Jesus Christ.  Many of those wrongs have been very hurtful.

Christians are just the same as everybody else when it comes to doing bad things.  Sometimes (often) we’re even worse.  Need I bring up such awful deeds as the Spanish Inquisition, the Crusades, the people who bomb abortion clinics, the priest sex scandals of a few years ago, or the Catholic/Protestant fighting in Ireland?

I am not writing this letter to defend Christians because we have done some pretty horrible things, Catholics and Protestants alike.  The purpose of this letter is twofold:  First, to apologize for the hurt, guilt, and offense caused not only by those who were speaking on Wednesday downhill, but all the things that Christians have done that were not loving, especially here at Bucknell.  And second, to express that this is not God’s intended message for the world, for this campus, or for any one of you.  Yes, God wants us to proclaim the love of Jesus to all of you.  He wants us to encourage every person to seek an intimate relationship with Him.  He loves every one of us and a relationship with Him is not meant to be a burden on the soul, or a guilt complex. He does not condemn, but loves unconditionally.  He does not want us to send a message of superiority or hatred, which is what came across during much of the speech given on Wednesday.

In the Bible, Jesus defends those who have been condemned by society so many times.  Everyone is shocked to see him eating dinner with cheating tax collectors, talking with prostitutes in the street, and spending time with pagans and nonbelievers.  He even saves the life of an adulterous woman when everyone else wants to give her the death penalty.  Everyone was confused—wasn’t Jesus the voice of Godly justice?  Why was he standing up for such sinners?  But to Jesus, these things make perfect sense.  Nobody is completely righteous, he reminds us all the time, so why should any of us act like we’re better than everyone else?  He says, “why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?” (Matt 7:3)  He is constantly scolding the Pharisees for doing exactly what those Christians did downhill on Wednesday.  Sure, some of the people the Pharisees were sticking their noses up at were doing some pretty bad stuff—but so were the Pharisees.  So are the rest of us.

At first, when I heard about what these people were doing and saying on Wednesday, I thought Christians were being too loud.  But perhaps we’re being too quiet, not responding to this by shouting God’s message of mercy and love.

So whenever you hear a Christian speaking of fire and brimstone and threatening the world with talk of Hell, please remember that those words are coming from human mouths and that is not the message that Jesus gives to us to proclaim to the world.  They are grossly misrepresenting the things our Lord Jesus Christ teaches us.  He teaches a message of love and forgiveness, of reaching out in love to help one another, and of not judging others.  Even when we are pointing out wrongs, we are supposed to do so in a loving way (and gently, if possible), because we ourselves do plenty of wrongs also.  We Christians are pretty sloppy at carrying out that message.  We’re trying our best, though, and I believe that the incident on Wednesday is incentive to all of us to try even harder.

Again, I am very sorry for the hurtful things that were said on Wednesday.  We are all truly sorry.

–A Christian Bucknellian

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