Oases of Sorrow

Steve Chalke’s Oasis Church at Waterloo has issued an apology. They are ‘sorry for the way Christians have harmed the LGBT+ community’. They go on to explain that they are different, for their doors are ‘flung open’ and they ‘show the inclusive and embracing love of God’. 

Apologising on others’ behalf is fraught with difficulty. Like those seeking reparations from Britain over the slave trade or on account of its imperial past, all sorts of questions and issues are raised. Still, the leaflet fails to explain what harm it refers to. If there have been persecutions of people on account of orientation then this is indeed something to regret, though it was probably performed by the state rather than the church. However, I suspect the ‘harm’ referred to is simply holding to a plain reading of scripture, unpopular and unfashionable though this has become.

In the spirit of Oasis, I thought I might have a go at offering apologies of my own- also on others’ behalf:

I’m sorry for those churches which have so watered down the gospel there’s nothing left to proclaim.

I’m sorry for those fake gospels which are so frequently peddled which make people feel better but offer no forgiveness of sin. Repentance is not urged, self-denial not sought, submission to Christ not desired.

I’m sorry for those church leaders who offer soothing words but little truth. There’s love and heaven, but no judgement and hell.

I’m sorry for those churches who confirm and applaud sinful lifestyles, including Italian Catholicism’s toleration of mafia and US megachurches’ promotion of greed.

I’m sorry for those churches which have allowed themselves to be used as cover for perverts who molested children and other vulnerable people.

I’m sorry for all those preachers who tell nice stories and anecdotes but neglect to explain the way to heaven. 

I’m sorry for those self-seeking charlatans who fleece their flocks and live like kings.

I’m sorry for those clergymen who wax lyrically about refugees and climate change but say nothing of spiritual importance.

I’m sorry for those church leaders who worship Mary, offer prayers to saints and teach you can burn off your own sin in purgatory.

And I’m sorry that some churches have failed to show Christ’s love and power to forgive while denouncing particular sins, repentance from which leads to hope, peace and pardon.