There are days when you’re ashamed to be a Christian because you’re so evil. And there are days when you’re ashamed to admit you’re a Christian because of how evil other Christians are.
Of course, Christianity is for evil people: it is about how God justifies the ungodly. It is not about how the ungodly justify themselves. And that is why it is not so much even the evil committed by Christians, as that evil self-righteously practiced in the name of Christianity that really nauseates you. All Christians are sinners; but Christians ought to be people who admit their sinfulness and don’t seek for excuses. If we look for forgiveness (as we do) then we can’t simultaneously look for ways to excuse or justify ourselves. And we certainly can’t call our evil good and boast in our non-existent righteousness and claim God’s vindication.
Thank God that our allegiance to Christianity is not because of other Christians: individualistic as this may sound, it is because of Christ. If it depended on other Christians, I would apostasize: if it depended on me, I would apostasize yesterday. But Christ gives me no reason to depart from Him; Christ gives me no reason to behave in any way inconsistent with His perfection.
Sin, in ourselves or in others, is not a reason to depart from Christ: He is the Saviour of sinners. But it is the fact that He is the saviour of sinners which should make us willing to admit that we are sinners. It is the truth that God is both just and the justifier of him that believeth in Jesus that should make us most unwilling to justify ourselves. The parable of the Pharisee and the Publican is still in Scripture: and the word of Jesus still stands. The man who craved mercy, acknowledging his sins, went home justified: the man who praised God for his own righteousness, who compared himself favorably to others, went home unjustified.
I understand that this is not the whole of Scriptural revelation: I understand that there is a legal and a societal innocence which gives you a platform from which to protest real injustice.
But I understand this too: that mud slinging and scandal mongering and rumor circulating and character assassination is behaviour logically inconsistent with the system of doctrine taught in Scripture (and summarized in the Westminster Standards). When it boils right down to it, there are two charges we can throw around, which will stick to almost anybody. The first is truly universal, and it is hard to think of anything worse to say: “You are a sinner”. But the second reaches a greater depth still: “You trust that you are righteous and despise others” (Luke 18:9). The man who confesses and forsakes his sins finds mercy: it is the one who covers it, whether with outright concealment, with excuses, with spurious justifications, who does not prosper.
And so to the TRs and the FVists, whose contentions of today made me think about this, and perhaps even to the smugly aloof from the current ecclesiastical dustup, a word: The fact that your opponent is wrong doesn’t mean that you are right.