Passing the Blame

I don’t read too many apologetics books but every now again I’ll pick one up or hear of an argument or two from different books. A point of contention that apologists are having to provide an answer to are the arguments that religion kills, specifically the wars performed in the name of God. One may even specifically point out the Crusades, sometimes vicious wars carried out in the name of God. This is a difficult issue to address and I applaud apologists who attempt to tackle such troubling points with skeptics and doubters. However, I have seen a couple of ways that apologists have answered this difficult question in ways that are less than helpful in my estimation. For example, I hear people downplay the Crusades. They argue that it was simply part of their worldview and it made complete sense in their context. This does not however, answer the objection that was raised – why are people being killed in the name of God? Another way that I have seen people address this topic is to point out all the atheistic regimes who murdered thousands if not millions. While true, yes, it does not answer the question. Rather, it simply shifts the blame to the atheists. I have even read several accounts that said that Hitler’s regime was atheist. This is not the case. Hitler had the theological justification for his purposes by some of the leading theologians of his day.

In these arguments, apologists are not answering the questions in a straight-forward manner. Instead, they seek to justify the actions of Christians or point out how bad atheists are. I find these unsatisfactory. Rather, I think if we were honest with ourselves as Christians, maybe we should take some blame for terrible injustices that have been perpetrated in the name of our God. We may not have been directly responsible but as the universal church, we are all part of the same body. I think a posture of humility and recognition of our own sinfulness may contribute to a more authentic answer we can offer to our critics.

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