I love David French. He pulls no punches. This past week my own (new to me) denomination has been exposed for mishandling sexual abuse claims in a diocese. French highlights that to point out the ongoing problems we have in the American Church.
American Christians are deeply divided. Christian public intellectuals are divided over the best response to the political and cultural challenge of a secularizing nation. Christian denominations are divided between Evangelicals and fundamentalists. Christian families are divided over politics, pandemics, and conspiracies.
Yet these arguments—as important as they often are—will ultimately be fruitless if the church can’t protect its members from predators. We know beyond a shadow of a doubt that sex abuse scandals can devastate a church. They don’t just wreck its witness (who cares what an abusive institution thinks about, well, anything?); more importantly, they inflict deep and sometimes deadly wounds on human beings created in the image of God.
I do not disagree with some of French’s proposals and ideas. We are in deep trouble and need deep solutions.
Where he fails is where we are ALL failing right now: lack of repentance.
We can change all the policy manuals in the world, but if our hearts are not shredded and we are not calling out to God for mercy… it’s nothing. We’ll change policy manuals and not deal with our narcissistic tendencies and go back to our ego-driven ministries and find other ways to feed our pride and flesh.
I’m not suggesting “just to repent.” I am for deep change. But deep change won’t happen without repentance.
Since this is now in “my own house,” I would so deeply love for at least the ACNA to call for a week of fasting and repentance. A solemn assembly where we weep over our sins.
Better? If national church leaders would talk to each other and make a national call for a solemn assembly. If it’s some gathering… no “big worship headliners.” Just sit and weep. Pray. Call out for mercy. If someone leads in music, they don’t get a camera on them. They play from the back of the venue. If some “big name” prays for repentance, they don’t get a camera. No tweets of them kneeling on a platform.
Out with the false piety and our celebrity worship.
In the mean time… I am challenged to pray the Great Litany from our Book of Common Prayer (2019) on at least a weekly basis. This past week in a prayer retreat I prayed through this for well over an hour, weeping over some of those prayers.
Every week I will follow the Spirit and pray that beautiful offering of prayer and ask for repentance in my own heart and in the hearts of those lead in our American churches. We need breaking. We need renewal. We need deep change.
From The Great Litany:
From all evil and wickedness; from sin, from the works and assaults of the devil; from your wrath and everlasting condemnation,
Good Lord, deliver us.
From all blindness of heart; from pride, vanity, and hypocrisy; from envy, hatred, and malice; and from all lack of charity,
Good Lord, deliver us.
ALSO… I just came across this song of lament and play it on repeat: