About Jesus  -  Steve Sweetman

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Rewriting History

(removing the historic monuments)


Sir John A. McDonald, Canada's first Prime Minister, was born in 1815.  First elected in 1867 as Prime Minister, he served until 1873.  He was re-elected in 1878 and remained in office until he died in 1891.  There are a growing number of people here in Canada who want to remove his name from public buildings because he supported a residential school system that oppressed our indigenous peoples.  Similarly there is a movement in America to remove southern civil war monuments from public spaces because of their association with slavery.  If names and monuments promote past wrongs, the wrongs need to be addressed, but not in a way that creates another wrong.  Violent reactions to past intolerances is not only intolerant, it's hypocritical.  Ignoring historical wrongs or rewriting history to suit a personal presupposition is also wrong.  Such revisions of history propagate lies that have no constructive benefit for a culture's future.  


If we ignore or rewrite historical facts to suit a viewpoint, what should we do with President Clinton's adultery in the Oval Office that desecrated the honour of the White House?  Many have chosen to ignore that one.  Should Washington D.C. be renamed because George Washington owned slaves?  Despite the American Declaration of Independent's (July 4, 1776) that declared all people are created equal, what should we do with the founding fathers who held black people to a different standard?  What do we do about President Trump's sexually explicit derogatory remarks about women?  What kind of example is that?  More importantly, what do we do with us?  Who among us has never sinned?  Who among us should cast the first stone of protest?               


As a Christian, I'm trained to ask what the Bible says about every issue; this issue included.  Does the Bible hide the sins of Biblically important people from its narrative?  Does it rewrite history to make it palatable to our cultural conscience?    


In the opening pages of the Bible we read about the most historic sin ever committed (Genesis 3:6).  A few pages later we learn about humanity's first murder (Genesis 4:8).  Twelve chapters later we see Abraham's sin of adulterous disobedience (Genesis 16).  Later on we learn of Moses' sin of defiance that excluded him from entering the Promised Land (Numbers 20:12).  King David, despite his repentance (Psalm 51) was not stricken from the Biblical record because of his public sins (2 Samuel 11).  


The Bible hides nothing.  Parts of it would be X rated if documented in a movie in all of its explicitness.  The Apostle Paul told us why the Bible doesn't hide these sins.  He said that what was written was meant to instruct us (Romans 15:4).  Despite the sins of Adam, Abraham, Moses, David, and others, Paul used these men throughout his writings to teach us the ways of God.  Whether good, bad, or ugly, there is something on each page of the Bible for us to learn and benefit from.  We don't rip a page out because it doesn't fit into our personal cultural platform.     


How you think about any historically cultural issue is your personal prerogative.  Just don't fall into the generational trap and either ignore or rewrite history to suit your own purpose.  The sad fact is that the one thing we seem to learn from history is that we learn nothing from history.  I agree with Paul.  "For whatever was written in the past was written for our instruction, so that we may have hope through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scripture" (Romans 15:4 CSB).  Acknowledging the sins of the past with the hope of making a better future is what our relics of history should be all about.      

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