Should We Apologize for Sins We Did Not Commit?

James Bruce | July 14, 2016

Does it make sense to repent of someone else’s sins? Christians seem to be doing a lot of that recently, so it’s right to ask whether it makes sense. In my own denomination, the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA), we voted overwhelmingly at our 44th General Assembly to “recognize, confess, condemn, and repent of corporate and historical sins, including those committed during the Civil Rights era, and continuing racial sins of ourselves and our fathers.”

The PCA’s repudiation of racism echoes the 1995 Southern Baptist resolution on racial reconciliation on the 150th anniversary of the founding of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC): “We lament and repudiate historic acts of evil such as slavery from which we continue to reap a bitter harvest, and we recognize that the racism which yet plagues our culture today is inextricably tied to the past.” This year the SBC also passed a resolution repudiating the Confederate battle flag. You can stop flying a flag now, but can you repent of someone else flying a flag more than a century ago?


Intergenerational Guilt

One way to say yes to this question is to believe in corporate guilt, or imputed intergenerational guilt. Todd Pruitt, a PCA minister who voted for the overture to…

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