The whole story of truth | Way of life
Were you confused earlier this month? Was October 11 Columbus Day or Indigenous Peoples Day? It was both. Although only Columbus Day is a federal holiday, several cities and states, such as Boston and South Dakota, celebrate Indigenous Peoples Day on the same date.
In doing so, they recognize that some associate Columbus with the displacement of Native Americans. As the Wall Street Journal reports, people “associate the explorer with atrocities against indigenous peoples and the emergence of the transatlantic slave trade.”
Others disagree. As Robert Allegrini, president of the National Italian American Foundation, noted in the same WSJ article, âColumbus representa [the Italiansâ] assimilation inâ¦ the American dream. Thus, Indigenous Peoples Day on the same day as Columbus Day dilutes the explorer’s legacy.
The Columbus Day / Indigenous Peoples’ Day debate will continue to be debated. But is there a “dark side” of state and church that is clearly problematic? And if so, what is the role of God’s people in telling “the truth to one another, [rendering] … judgments that are true and make peace â(Zechariah 8:16)?
A mentor once said, âFew of us are saying the bottom 10 percent. Oh, we’ll reveal up to 90% of the truth, but we rarely risk 100%. Of course, there are times when full revelation is best expressed only to the âearsâ of God. But when it comes to living together, risky confession is good for the soul, including the soul of the country and the church. Regarding the nation, Jon Meacham remarks: âMartin Luther King Jr.’s message – that we should be judged on the content of our character, not on the color of our skin – lies in the American soul; the threat of the Ku Klux Klan too. â¦ Our destiny depends on which element – that of hope or that of fear – comes out triumphant. “
But the KKK is only a small part of the confession needed to say the bottom 10 percent. Other realities overshadow the nation and state narrative. For example, Martin Luther gave an anti-Semitic anti-Semitic speech against the Jewish people. Abraham Lincoln ordered the hanging of 38 Dakota Indians, the largest mass execution in U.S. history. And the Catholic clergy in France have abused over 200,000 minors over the past seven decades.
Naming such offenses is not intended to vilify the nation or the church. Please listen to this. Instead, it is to continue the biblical tradition of telling the story of all truth. Have you noticed: the scriptures do not whitewash God’s people? On the contrary, he easily reports that David committed adultery with Bathsheba (2 Samuel 11: 1-5), that Saul was an accomplice in the murder of Stephen (Acts 22:20), and that Rahab the harlot was a member of the family tree of Jesus. (Matthew 1: 1-17). Just as the Bible tells the story of all truth, we must tell the story of all truth.
A difficult truth is to admit that racism is not just a personal prejudice, but a deep, systemic and far-reaching sin. My elementary school growing up organized minstrel shows as a fundraiser. The shows featured blackface-smeared whites performing skits and musical acts that portrayed African Americans as stupid, lazy, and buffoonish people. In the 1950s, we thought such a portrayal was fine, so I grew up with a distorted image of blacks as comedic, “less than” individuals.
Although minstrel shows have declined, people of color are still seen and treated as ‘less than’. The violence against George Floyd and others bears witness to this. However, people are still in denial, especially the church. As Robert P. Jones notes, surveys conducted in 2018 found that âwhite Christians – including evangelical Protestants, mainline Protestants and Catholics – are almost twice as likely as unaffiliated whites to the religion to tell the murders of blacks. [people] by the police are isolated incidents rather than part of a [systemic] model of how the police treat African Americans. The Church of Christ must face such denial.
The need to preach the gospel is more urgent than ever. But as Raymond Fung points out, the gospel is not only good news for sinners; it is also good news for those against whom we have sinned. Thus, a new honesty about the anguish of âthose who have sinned againstâ is needed, telling the whole truth about the injustices that we have tolerated and nurtured as a nation.
The story of the whole truth is such an embarrassing and upsetting subject. However, his intention is not to annoy or offend but to liberate. As Jesus proclaimed in his first sermon, he came “to proclaim liberation to the captives and the restoration of sight to the blind, to set the oppressed free” (Luke 4: 18-19). Not just freedom for those who suffer injustice, but freedom for those who deny this injustice. Because as Jesus notes in John 8, it is by counting on the truth that we are truly liberated!
Paul Mundey is a pastor, consultant and writer. He recently completed two years of service as moderator of the Brethren Church, the denomination’s highest elective office. For 20 years he was Senior Pastor of Frederick Church of the Brethren.